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How does Quality Assurance work together with Quality Engineering?

Chris McIntoshby Chris McIntosh, Senior Software Engineer

Over the years the software industry has developed many solutions to producing quality software to meet business needs. Software, however, is an ever-changing industry, and our tried methods are failing to keep up with modern development practices. Quality Engineering has made waves in the industry for a few years and is often associated with iterative or agile development processes, as a new way of ensuring quality software. How does Quality Engineering fit in to traditional Quality Assurance to get us working software?

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Wasting Your Money in Software Development

By Chris Durand CTO, Bridge360

ChrisDurand-B360Want a guaranteed way to reduce your spend on software development? Do less. Really. Testing too expensive? Test less! Development too expensive? Develop less! Does this sound too good to be true? The good news is that most teams can benefit tremendously from this approach. The trick is to identify what to do less of.

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How to Lower Your Defect Rate Using Simple Requirements Techniques

By Chris McIntosh, Senior Software Developer

Chris McIntoshWe have all seen the various studies of software development and the causes of failures to deliver on time and cost overruns. The original Chaos report stated that a mere 16.2% of projects finished on time and budget. There have also been numerous studies surrounding the cost of defects and how it varies depending on when in the lifecycle they are discovered. The consensus, first reported on by Barry Boehm in the 80’s, is that the later in the software process a defect is discovered, the more expensive it becomes. There is some debate as to whether or not this is a hard and fast rule, but suffice to say, defects are rarely free to fix. Agile has cropped up to try and address some of these issues. It has certainly helped. A more recent report on software project failures puts it at 50% – 70% of projects are finishing on time and budget, with the projects using more agile techniques in the upper end of the spectrum. Agile practices are successful in reducing the failure rate by, in part, making the team test the development more frequently and elicit requirements more often. This is wholly dependent on your team’s ability to gather, record, and test requirements efficiently.

Here are some simple techniques that you can slowly introduce to decrease the defect rate due to poor requirements.

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Agile Testers Can Increase Their Value by Donning Many Hats

by Rema Sreedharakurup, Senior Quality Assurance Engineer

Rema_Pic_BlogIt seems today that no discussion about software development is done until someone brings up ‘Agile.’ And for good reason, as Agile is all about agility – an Incremental and iterative delivery model which focuses on business value, encourages flexibility and rapid adoption to change. It’s based on collaborative efforts to achieve common goals.

The agile principles & values are very short and sweet, but in the real world, Agile is not that simple. Remember, it’s a collaborative effort that requires people – Developers, Testers, all the folks involved in the product development who are trying to perform their best in this transforming phase and get things DONE… all the while trying to get accustomed to new processes that get introduced to improve delivery, and where output is expected quickly. Though, as Albert Einstein once said, “in middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” Hence for me as a Test Engineer, this transition to Agile opened up a wide array of opportunity where I could wear many hats – as a developer, as a tester, a customer advocate, a constant learner, and much more.

Here’s how I see each of these hats fitting my head, and perhaps yours, too. Continue reading


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Increasing Velocity of Agile Teams

by Benjamin Frech, Senior Software Engineer

Ben-FrechIncreasing a team’s productivity is a ubiquitous goal. But, how do you achieve that goal?

To many, it may be tempting to use velocity as a measure of productivity, but the value of a story point can vary significantly over time. Once you get past counterproductive answers like, “let’s inflate all our story points by 50%,” you’re left with options that can actually increase your team’s productivity or, at least, facilitate collaboration between team members.

In my experience, the top two methods of truly increasing productivity involve creating a comfortable work environment, and addressing technical debt and developer concerns. Continue reading


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The Exciting Potential Of Agile Software Development

by Morgan McCollough, Senior Software Engineer

Morgan McCollough Bridge360In the first week of June, I made the trek to Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas to attend the Agile Development and Better Software Conference. The conference itself was only two days, but I attended a three-day Agile scrum master training class beforehand. It rounded out a full week immersed in all things Agile.

I’ve worked with a number of clients who claimed to have adopted Agile in one form or another. I’ve also read quite a bit about it, but prior to my week in Las Vegas, I had never received any formal training. The trip was eye opening, and it was a great opportunity to talk with people from across the industry.

What really became obvious was just how many companies are successfully implementing Agile processes at both the software development and program management levels. Some are achieving pretty dramatic results, with up to 30% shorter schedules and 75% fewer defects on average! However, learning the formal practice of Agile also made it clear how much dysfunction still exists, even in companies claiming the Agile moniker. Continue reading


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Minimizing Risk in an Agile Approach

by Phillip Smith

The discussion about which project management approach to use is irrelevant if the chosen approach is not implemented correctly. The IT industry, while relatively young, does have reasonably well thought out software development processes (SDP’s) that are mature and reliable. Taking shortcuts within an SDP is never a good idea.

Whether using agile or waterfall, always make sure your plan includes stable requirements, optimized design, and rigorous testing. You should never tailor out critical deliverables, breeze conditionally through tollgates, or attempt to support truly impossible timelines.  It is better to execute in a reliable and true fashion and finish the project the right way, with quality. Stated another way, project managers should never use a difficult timeline or a low budget to justify chaos.

For example: in an agile approach, if you start with a very large scope and parse it into smaller components, and then execute all of the SDP phases for a single component prior to going in to the requirements for any other part of the scope, you will be running a great risk.  The lack of definition of follow-on components, combined with the finality of having the first component implemented, will certainly lead to integration issues and rework.

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