Sofie Thielemans

First time right: not just good for the customers

Testing products, surely that’s something you do once you’ve developed something?

Testing products, surely that’s something you do once you’ve developed something? Tobania Specialised Testing Services actually start the ‘finding the fault’ process before anything has even been produced. Prevention is better than cure – after all, this is better both for the customer and the end users.

'Finding the fault' is better known in production environments and IT circles as First Time Right. Sebastiaan van Gucht and Christophe Soens from Tobania STS are both huge supporters of this. This is because it results in significant time and cost savings for all parties involved. “Testing can be incredibly expensive and labour intensive. Even though we have managed to partly resolve this through automation, it will always continue to be reactive. You don’t start measuring the quality until the product has been developed and produced, whilst the intention should be to produce the right application, integration or software right from the very start. We try to place the emphasis on good things with first time right: what is the customer’s priority, what does the product need to satisfy before we start testing, what makes it useful for the user?”

This preventative testing may still sound a little abstract right now, so let’s compare first time right to a new house. It goes without saying we would all like to own our own home. The architect sketches out a washing area on the plans and this naturally includes sockets. The contractor thinks the washing machine and dryer are going to be stacked on top of each other and positions the sockets high up on the wall. However, the future occupant wants to position the machines next to each other and is therefore actually expecting low sockets. That’s how simple it is to create a tricky problem: as a result of expectations which are not clearly expressed, as people are making incorrect assumptions, followed by insufficient communication. Recognisable, right? If Tobania STS had intervened, these sockets would have ended up in exactly the right place.

Developing scenarios

Of course future occupants will usually know where they would like the sockets to go in their new home with some effective two-way communication, but it’s quite a different story when it concerns software, applications or other IT solutions. This is where Tobania STS’ solutions will come in very handy indeed: API testing, DevOps integrations and an Agile way of working. We can also work with mock-ups or graphic effects in order to make it easier for the customer to imagine the product or process. “You can already apply quite a number of qualitative checks before you even start the development process. Going over the various different screens will allow you to see where something is missing. Then you can start thinking about tables, about the number of decimal points, whether the Euro symbol needs to be added ... You certainly don’t need to hold off until everything has been implemented. The customer will often assume developers know and understand everything, whilst this doesn’t necessarily need to be the case at all. We, as quality engineers, can bridge the gap to all involved parties. What is the project owner talking about and do the developers actually agree with all of this?” Tobania STS has adopted a Behaviour Driven Development (BDD) approach for this purpose.

It’s certainly quite logical for the teams who are working on the products to also be very focussed on the functionalities, according to Sebastiaan Van Gucht and Christophe Soens. The demands made are focussed on what the product needs to do. “This process doesn’t always devote the right amount of attention to the performance, user experience, the compatibility with other mobile devices or with browsers and the network connectivity, etc. The product may effectively be able to calculate a price, but if this process takes more than four seconds, the customer will already have gone off to one of your competitors. Offering Performance Testing as a Service will allow you to efficiently respond to this in order to detect it.

But equally validation of what the user can enter on the screen. What if a customer can enter an amount higher than 50,000 Euro? Will the quotation calculation still be correct? What kind of notification will the customer receive if he exceeds his credit limit? We can make everything understandable for both the developers and the customer by defining these types of very concrete scenarios beforehand with the use of Example Mapping. This will only serve to increase our chances of getting things right first time."