Healthy and good value?

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Is your testing practice a healthy, active contributor to your organisation's goals? Do you know? Are you doing too much, or perhaps too little? Are you doing it well? Are you spending more than you need to?

How are you doing?

Organisations spend a lot of money on testing. Given this, there are questions that should be under regular consideration. Is testing lean, attempting what is necessary, no more no less? How well does it do what is attempted and how secure is that performance? Does it achieve the outcomes that really matter? Is it accelerating the speed of delivery or dragging it down? How efficiently is it being done and is this improving over time? Can it be relied on to deal with new challenges and changing situations?


Lets face it, testing can be a bit of a backwater and can be treated as a side-show to the main-event. Awareness of what is actually going on can be light. Certain numbers may be known, the size of the test set and the percentage executed and passed figures, but what about the content? Does anyone look at whether the tests offer real value? What about the approaches being taken, are checks being done that they are sound and appropriate?

When things are not good there may be indicators, for example abandoned tests, missed defects or high cost, but the absence of these does not necessarily mean all is well. Things can run along, as they always have, unnoticed, not doing too well, but not doing badly enough to become the centre of attention.

Missed opportunity

The status quo can mean missed opportunities. Whether this occurs because it is not recognised that things need to improve or because no one knows what to do to improve things, the result is the same. Failing to address this in an organised and effective way is one reason that the perception, right or wrong, is always there that “testing costs too much”.

A fresh perspective

When you are buried in the detail of doing things, doing them the same way they have been done for a long time, it can be hard to step back and take stock. We can help you do that. Organisations engage us to get a fresh perspective and an, evidence based, analysis of their situation.

The trigger for a review can vary, sometimes it is cost, sometimes poor outcomes and sometimes a desire to do better. You may want an assessment of how your own operation is working, or perhaps those of a strategic supplier, either way, we can provide the analysis you need.

Why use us?

We have been in “the business” for a long time and, along the way, members of our team have built and led many test operations. Some have been amongst the biggest test function seen within the UK telecoms and finance sectors. Others have been small units supporting specific deliveries.

We are used to owning and running major outsourced testing services, ones with annual budgets measured in the high tens of millions. We know a lot about obtaining value and effective services from major system integrators and service suppliers. We have vast experience working with Indian testing services suppliers.

We are also used to creating and running test delivery functions, immersed in the day to day detail of running activities for teams numbering from ten, through thirty or sixty up to a hundred plus people. We understand the reality of delivering testing in a diverse range of situations ranging from highly collaborative Agile patterns to traditional build to specification contracts.

The depth of our experience in diverse testing operations combined with our delivery leadership experience and knowledge built up performing health checks and test transformations enables us to see through the noise and get to the heart of how things are working. We can provide a clear picture of what is happening, a sound judgement of what could be better and a plan to attack the opportunities for change.

How can we help?

We can assess your current situation and identify where you have opportunities for improvement. Where appropriate, we can assess whether you are prepared to handle up and coming demands. There are some fundamental perspectives we use for a full assessment, but we can focus in on specific ones if that best meets your needs.

First steps

If you would like to discuss your situation and what you would like to learn about the health of your testing operation then please contact us at

Fundamental perspectives

We look at activities from a number of different perspectives to form a balanced situation assessment. These include:

  • Test model alignment and completeness - How sound are your models for overlaying testing onto development and maintenance work? Do you have one or more models that aligns with each main category of work? Are the models complete enough to ensure bases are covered?
  • Sourcing and contracting - Is the approach to sourcing of resources and to contracting out activities sound? Is it a long term sustainable approach? Is the present commercial position sound? Is the commercial governance sound?
  • Test operating model - Are you setup, organisationally and managerially, to execute delivery of the test models? Are practices and processes aligned?
  • Necessity - Is the testing you are doing necessary or is work being done that is not required?
  • Adequacy - Is testing adequate given the nature of what you are delivering?
  • Quality - Are the tests activities executed being done well, with appropriate test content and appropriate care and fidelity during execution and analysis?
  • Productivity - Is productivity in the right space? Are avoidable activities being done, is avoidable rework being triggered? Is work being done manually that could be automated? Are individual output levels appropriate?
  • Outcome - Are the outcomes of testing what the organisation needs? Is defects prevention good enough? Does it give early warning of flawed change? Does it accelerate or hinder the speed of delivery?
Flavours of the assessments our people have delivered

Financial Services - The CIO at this FTSE 100 financial services provider needed to understand why the cost of test delivery was higher than their previous experience said it should be. Alongside this there were questions about approach. We undertook a six week assessment. We looked at the discipline of testing, how it aligned with the wider development work and how “cost aware” the organisation was. In this case there were opportunities for both service improvements and significant cost reduction.

Banking Sector - This banking software company wanted to revitalise one of its strategic product lines. A significant part of the malaise was known to be the disconnect between its Far East testing service centre and the London based development team. A review, focusing on testing practice and ways of working, was undertaken. This review formed the foundation of a test transformation initiative that created a highly effective close collaborative working relationship between the two units.

Leisure Sector - A well known membership organisation’s head of finance and IT needed to reduce the overall cost of delivery. A significant element of this cost was testing. We performed the review covering how testing was operating, whether this was the most cost effective model and what opportunities there were for cost reduction.

Strategic Supplier - Requiring a bespoke, heavily customised, CRM solution this organisation had a strategic dependency on the software company that supplied it. As is often the case, the delivered solution had issues that the client expected the supplier to have caught, there were questions about the quality of the supplier’s work and how they tested it. To resolve this contention an independent review, with joint sponsorship, was performed to assess the supplier’s practices and to determine whether, in the round, they were sound and reasonable given the nature of the work and the contractual arrangements under which they operated.

ERP Programme - As part of the reset of a stalled ERP programme a review of how testing was operating across the ERP solution supplier and the receiving programme was undertaken. Working as a standalone programme, outside of the normal IT structure, there was a heavy dependency on the supplier and little in the way of organised client side assurance activities. The review confirmed the existence of a significant gap in the way the programme was operating, effectively one leg was missing. It then built an action plan to address this gap.