The Case for Application Testing Services

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When it comes to building applications, nobody really wants to be on the quality assurance team. Every developer out there thinks of themselves as being best-in-class, so inevitably the folks that get put on the internal QA team are by definition not the best developers available.

The folks at Capgemini see this fundamental issue as one of the main reasons that, as more focus is put on compliance and security, IT organizations are going to outsource application testing. To that end, Capgemini is unifying its two major testing arms into a single business unit that will be headed by Charles Li. Previously, Capgemini had two distinct testing units; one that was centered on Capgemini itself that was anchored around testing tools from Hewlett-Packard, the other anchored around testing tools from IBM that was delivered via the company's Sogeti subsidiary.

By bringing the two units together, Li said Capgemini is trying to achieve critical mass in an area that tends to generate a lot of complex management issues. The first issue is simply relying on internal developers who are not experts in quality testing procedures. The second issue is that while many companies have outsourced testing previously, they usually chose the lowest cost provider. Those choices have come back to haunt many companies that find it difficult to work with those providers when many of their testers were not local or even experts in testing practices.

The other big issue that companies wrestle with is application security. Developers are taking more responsibility for testing, but they view security to be a "non-functional" testing step. That brings up issues about where and when to test for security. Li advocates that while security is part of the non-functional testing process, it needs to be closely coupled to the overall development process.

There's a lot of competition to provider testing services, and it can generate internal controversy when an IT organization decides to outsource this process. The issue, says Li, is to make sure that the testing service is really staffed by QA experts, versus just an IT services firm that is merely repurposing available IT people to do some unspecified level of testing.