Companies still sidestep software testing

Australian companies are sidestepping software testing in a race to meet strict deadlines but the result is a litany of failed projects without any quality control.

IT disaster stories will continue to haunt Australian enterprise until companies stop taking a thrifty and short-sighted approach to software development, according to Software Engineering Australia (SEA) chief executive Nathan Brumby.

Releasing the results of a survey entitled, What's Bugging Australia's Software Industry, he said the study proves confidence in Australian software remains low because companies are not using Software Process Improvement (SPI) methodologies.

While six out of 10 companies claim they are using SPI to improve the quality of software development, 47 per cent could not name the methodology used within their organisation.

SPI is basically a set of world's best practice to improve the quality of software development with Brumby pointing to India as an example.

"There are some overseas markets that recognised the value proposition of using such methodologies to improve processes, testing and code quality; but Australia has been slow to recognise its importance based on the false belief that it is too expensive to implement," he said.

Brumby said companies want IT projects to be "better, faster and cheaper", but this will not occur until SPI practices, such as the Capability Maturity Model (CMM), are adopted.

Telstra recently announced it has adopted CMM in a bid to cut costs and improve the quality of its organisation's code cutting.

Brumby said the telco has also made it clear it will favour other companies with the same capability.

"IT shops cut corners because they may have three weeks of software testing to undergo but only one week until deadline. As a result they cut testing thinking they will fix glitches later but if it costs $1 to fix a potential bug in testing it will cost more than $1000 when it reaches the customer," Brumby said.

"SPI is not about creating a paper storm. It is a growing issue for every software developing organisation in Australia as demand for reliability, predictability and cost efficiencies increases. It is also crucial to Australian industry should it pursue international competitiveness."

Brumby said 71 per cent of respondents believe there is room for improvement in the area of software testing.

The main industry concern expressed in the area of software testing is "insufficient time and resources for testing software throughout the development cycle".

This was of particular concern in large organisations which mainly produce software for internal use.

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