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Software application delivery teams must take a more strategic approach to application quality, according to a research paper from analyst house Forrester.

Forrester, in partnership with software development site Dr. Dobb’s, surveyed more than 1,200 development professionals for its 'Shift Focus From Testing To Software Quality Management For Business Transformation' report. The research sought to understand what type of development processes they use to effectively deliver applications.

Forrester said almost 40 percent of companies are adopting some form of "agile development". Rich internet applications (RIAs), service-driven applications and cloud environments mean that traditional manual testing is often not enough to certify that an application is production-ready, it said.

Integration and system testing together are becoming more critical, it said, pushing more testing responsibility onto development teams than in previous years. Many companies also see business analysts as key contributors to quality and testing regimes.

In highly collaborative environments, said Forrester, business analysts work closely with business stakeholders to determine appropriate requirements and to verify that applications meet those expectations.

Forrester insisted that software quality management (QM) was about much more than testing. Taking a strategic approach to implement smarter ways of working was a core part of QM, it said.

The analyst house said that effective quality management:

  • Examines critical success factors. Smart QM identifies what the technology must do, whether the end goal is winning and keeping customers, moving a business into a new market, or avoiding risk and compliance issues.
  • Determines the actions needed to keep success factors foremost. Smart QM actively determines what thresholds represent acceptable performance and actively plans how to reach them.
  • Avoids adding another layer of bureaucracy to an already compressed process. Taking a strategic approach means asking the right questions at the right time, collaborating with key stakeholders to ensure that everyone is on the same page, and amending processes only when needed.

The allure of outsourced testing has not weakened in response to these changes, however. Forrester analyst Margo Visitacion said: "Companies continue to turn to outsourcing to manage testing, especially specialised testing such as performance, user experience and automation - at a lower cost per head than they could achieve using internal resources."