Test Architecture

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Naive organisation of testing leads to poor results. Programmes need a targeted test architecture. One that guarantees the right sort of testing at the right time. It avoids waste and it prevents quality issues.

What is Test Architecture?

Test architecture is the discipline of looking at a stream of delivery and working out what, how and when to test to achieve the best possible outcome. It produces a framework of test activities that can then be scoped, prepared and executed. The architecture may be a “one-time” architecture supporting a fixed term programme or a “perpetual” architecture used for ongoing product development.

Isn’t that Test Planning?

No it is not. Generally test planning is light on forming a testing model and focusses more on planning work using the model of a particular approach. Detailed systematic analysis of the challenges to be faced and the best way to deal with them does not occur before the plan is built. The plan is relatively generic it has, for example, a broad bush “SIT Phase” without too much understanding of what that is. When using the Test Architecture approach you do not plan until what is to be done has been analysed, then you plan to the approach determined by the Test Architecture activity.

Test Inception

Test Inception is looking at the nature, risks and objectives of the work to be done and formulating the best mix of different types of testing to support that. It considers the various remits of testing, from finding defects to providing an objective measure of progress. Rather than working top down to identify a small number of “broad brush”, loosely defined, test activities, it defines finer grained activities, each with clear purposes and nature, and then builds the bigger picture from these. It is an explicit approach determination practice that is often skipped with unfortunate consequences.

What does it take?

To start with a team with lots of knowledge and experience covering how organisations use systems, the way projects operate, governance, the economics of delivery, development practices, technology, testing techniques and test delivery practices. On top of this, key requirements are the ability to look ahead and pick out the risks that will shape what is required, using instinctive and analytical risk identification, the creative insight that will select and design appropriate assurance activities, the ones that will deal with the risks and deliver the remit of testing, and the discipline required to apply this at a large sale on complex real-world programmes.

Where did it come from?

Our experience of shaping how testing is organised began in the mid of 1990s. Early works were approaches for testing sonar system software, a complex IT product, real-time embedded software applications and telecommunication systems. The watershed came from the experience of leading the testing of a massive implementation of the CRM, Billing and operational support system of a tier-1 retail telecommunications provider. It was clear that top down tweaking of “off the shelf” testing models led to cosmetic plans and that a bottom up approach was required. The idea of Test Architecture and Test Inception emerged.

Working with SQC

Concepts can emerge in multiple places. Other people may have come to the same conclusion about Test Architecture but, without doubt, it is one of the concepts that we developed independently. Out team has the history, experience and understanding required and SQC has a Test Architecture centric approach. We can:

  • Help you to build and work to a Test Architecture for your up and coming work.
  • Build and deliver an architecturally sound test service for you.
  • Review your current approach against architecturally sound criteria to help you improve what you do.

If you recognise the need for something different and more disciplined to the usual test management approach then contact us to discuss how we can help.