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Software Testing and Social Media

3 February 2010 4,023 views No Comment
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Software testers unite. You’re not alone anymore.

Social QA – the framework for those too big to fail.

Social Quality Assurance

Here comes another paradigm shift. How do you get an IT group to think about the business of QA and sharing, without getting the APP/DVL community all worked up to the point where they want to develop their own wiki or social media layer instead of using something that’s already been designed, proven, and tested.

And how about their feelings? You don’t want tick off the developers either… cause you’re all in the software delivery boat together. How about projects that’ve been in flight for a long time? What drive is all that information stored on? The fact remains; more and more distributed IT divisions are finding it difficult to mind share across an enterprise.

If vendor x was a partner with one of your IT projects, and they messed up and had to be replaced, wouln’t it be great if there was no need for a transition because all of the thought, dialogue, and discussions were already logged, tagged, and available on your cloud? You bet it would.

We’re going to use software to break down the silos project barriers once again. Larger IT organizations that have thousands of employees, might want to look to collaborative social business software to increase communication and collaboration.

Business Gets It

Business leaders get the idea. They’ve been struggling for years to engage their customers to better understand their needs. If the business is a true innovator, they know that keeping customers satisfied costs dramatically less then going out and securing new ones. Business cases have been built highlighting this opportunity, and companies like Dell, Starbucks, and Fidelity have seized the moment offering sites that allow customers to share ideas, complaints, needs, and priorities. But the business can’t just listen….the power comes behind the scene when they begin to do something about it. Social business software is the conduit to build the communication, and track efforts to better manage the communciation.

Can IT organizations steer away from clunky wikis or less aggregated message boards and create something that allows everyone it IT to understand just what the business wants from them? They can. And social business software is the gateway to provide it. It’s just realistic to mention that maybe some in the organization don’t want you to know what they want, thinking like there’s some kind of job security that goes with keeping information secret.

Take a look at why salesforce.com has taken a stranglehold on the CRM ERP market. Salesforce has taken business leaders by storm. Salesforce provides a business solution that leverages technology. The business was fed up with all the IT jockeying, delays, problems, and non-business focus. Strangely, it was IT who opened the door for salesforce to come back and stick it right in IT’s face.

Waves

Maybe you’re into making waves? Maybe you’re into surfing them. Either way, Google’s certainly latching onto the idea of social collaboration by creating it’s first pilot for Google Waves. If Google’s diving into the water, there’s gotta be something there. Google calls it “Waves”. The concept, give a group of people with various rights to various discussions and start the discussion. Think of a wave like a CEO creating a task force. You know, every time senior management wants something addressed immediately they build a task force…a.k.a here as “a wave”. So if the CEO of Toyota wants a task force on say “Gas Accelerator Failures”,  they can create a task force, build a google wave, and start gathering tasks, people, conversations, documents, and every thing else needed to build, track, and communicate the topic.

After initial scope, setup and configuration, mission statements and all the other blah blah, you can begin a globally distributed discussion gathering input, feedback, suggestions, directions, professional expertise and whatever else you need. You don’t even have to send out for pizza!

Back to QA

Now, not that there aren’t a 1,000 more inventive uses for social business software, because there probably are. The thought here was to comment about how quality assurance organizations that deal with system-wide distributed, cloud, virtual, mainframe, oo type enterprises can actually leverage the idea. These behemoth organizations can actually “share” the information that each project based QA groups are already delivering and mash it up to a more senior layer where the QA information can be shared, globalized, and improved over time. It’s about the communication. If we can find ways to better communicate, we can better measure, better evaluate, better prioritize, and better do our jobs. We’re talking the business of QA, not the IT of QA. And the business of QA should include this kind of logic.

Take for example HP”s Quality Center, a web based test management repository software solution that stores information on requirements, use cases, test plans, executions, and defects. It’s kind of like a social environment but not really. Can I share? Can I aggregate, can I tag to search…no,no, and no. Can we collaborate…not really unless some admin lets you. Thought here is simple. Back in the Y2K days, and EURO conversions in the financial sector, all systems were effected. Everyone needed to be involved. If we had collaborative tools back then, think how easy things would have been. You listening HP? I bet Atlassian is…..who’s Atlassian? (google it).

Where’s the Market?

Companies like Atlassian, Jive Software, and others have picked up the torch and ran with it. IBM with Lotus, and even Microsoft’s entries are jockeying for position as the 800 pound gorillas. Agility is key here because the framework will need to be flexible, adaptable, and configurable across some very large enterprises. Then consider linking external communities to boot (with proper aggregation), so your customers can tell you how well you tested and delivered.

What do you think?

Is there any merit to this case?

Or is this just another business re engineering case gone too far.

But one thing is clear. Social media does push ideas out that you might not have thought about before, and it opens doors that you never knew were there. So if you think that it works in a social environment, why can’t it adapt to a business environment?

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