Digital Assurance Consulting

Digital Assurance

The scope of Digital spans all the new technologies including mobile, the Internet of Things, Drones, 3D printing, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning, sensors and actuators of all descriptions and Virtual or Augmented Reality. It really is – everything.

The change that Digital forces on testers and Assurance is profound:

  • We need to re-think how we approach testing so that we achieve levels of confidence in very challenging circumstances.
  • We need short-cuts to create tests at volume and this requires both superior modelling skills and tools that support modelling too.
  • We need our testers to skill up. They need to presume that they test functionality at scale and with tools almost all the time. The days of manual testing in Digital are numbered.
  • We need our testing to align precisely with definition and development processes – to Shift-Left, to embed and align with developers, to be indispensable partners in the thinking, development and testing processes.

The New Model for Testing is an attempt to identify the distinct thought processes involved in exploring sources of knowledge and the system under test and to scope, design and select meaningful and valuable tests of systems.

The key to better testing is not better process or more sophisticated tools. Rather it is the interpersonal, communication and thinking skills of testers. If the role of Assurance is to increase the chances of Digital System success, then the person or team doing Assurance must acquire and exhibit the very best of those same skills.

Digital Assurance Consulting

We provide the following range of services in Digital Assurance:

  • Test Architecture and Strategy - we can help you to distribute test activities across a Continuous Delivery or DevOps process between developers, testers, operations and users
  • Test Automation Strategy - we help you decide what blend of test automation tools and processes are required to achieve Digital success
  • Team Coaching and Mentoring - the Digital team owns their processes and tools, but also needs support and gudance in shifting from a staged to a continuous culture
  • Training - we help your team to come to terms with DevOps, Shift-Left, Shift-Right and Continuous Delivery approaches; to embed and align with developers, to be 'more technical', to be indispensable partners in the thinking, development and testing processes.

Our Consulting Approach

We have delivered testing services since 1992 and have gained a reputation for innovative independent thinking based upon an honest open relationships with clients. Our clients tend to have difficult or unusual problems that involve issues of scale, culture, technical strategy or implementation, for example. These cannot usually resolved using simple off the shelf solutions.

Free Diagnosis Workshop

Assignments are usually initiated with a FREE Diagnosis Workshop. We offer to spend a half-day with the right people in your company to explore the problem you have or to figure out a way to solve it. You might have a project that needs a strategy or resources or perhaps there's a quality problem or you want to reduce your dependence on manual testing and use more tools; you might be transitioning to a DevOps regime and need your testers to get more technical.

If we are able to help, we will prepare a costed proposal for services to support your goals.

What we Offer

Every assignment is different, but the pattern we tend to follow is:

  • Given a clear understanding of the problem, we will provide an honest and comprehensive appraisal of your current situation.
  • We will identify a range of practical, viable opportunities for improvement, transformation or change of direction.
  • We will provide a roadmap for implementation and a costed implementation plan,
  • We will support the implementation through coaching, mentoring and advice, and/or provide an assurance role to ensure implementation goes smoothly.

Advisory and Leadership Roles

Paul has a track record in providing advisory services to executives and practitioners in the software field. He is currently a member of the TestPlant Technology Advisory Board, for example. Paul was the founding Chair of the ISEB Testing Certification scheme through which hundreds of thousands of testers have acquired a qualification. He was a member of the working Party that created the first general-purpose Testing Standard BS 7925. He was the Programme Chair for the Testing and Finance Conference in 2011 and for the 2014 EuroSTAR Conference. He is the Founder and Host of the UK Test Management Forum and Linkedin Group.

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FREE Diagnosis Workshop

Get to the bottom of the 'Testing Problem'

Over the last twenty years or so, we have been called in to investigate testing problems many times. Our experience, again and again, is that many problems in testing are often symptoms of problems elsewhere. We promise to call a spade a spade and not attempt to impose testing solutions on teams whose problems are caused elsewhere. Of course, testing teams do have problems, and we'll suggest appropriate courses of action for those.

Whatever your testing problem, take advantage of our half day Diagnosis Workshop free of charge.

This is what we do:

  • 30 min exploration teleconference to set terms of reference and objectives
  • 2-3 hour onsite workshop
  • Dedication to your specific issue and goals
  • Selected attendees from your organisation
  • No commitment beyond the workshop
  • One page summary action list
  • Provision of industry contacts if we can’t help directly
  • Proposal tailored to meet your goals should you wish to proceed any further
  • No cost to you except for travel expenses for venues outside of Greater London

If you’d like to know more about how we work, please contact us directly. Our key software testing services are listed below:

Test Managers and Specialist Resourcing

Why use an external source for testing?

There are three main reasons why many clients choose to involve a third party to assist them in testing:

  • To impart independent expertise and advice to the business. This normally takes the form of assisting in risk evaluation and mitigation, test leadership and support of stakeholders to assist their decision-making.
  • To supplement the experience of the client’s team. This is particularly appropriate when there are new technologies involved.
  • To supplement the resources available in-house. Testing is an obvious function to outsource, since it benefits from independence.

How can Gerrard Consulting help?

All IT project development plans include a number of testing steps, many of which are on the critical path of the project. Testing specialists, independent from the developers, should perform these tasks to gain the maximum risk mitigation.

Typically, these tasks include:

  • Preparation of the overall Test Strategy and a Test Plan
  • Test Automation Plan
  • Configuration of the Test Environment
  • Selection and installation of proprietary or open source testing tools
  • Training of testers (e.g. user testing, advanced test techniques, test tools etc.)
  • Acceptance testing of a Build
  • Systems testing
  • Performance, usability, accessibility, security and other non-functional testing
  • User Acceptance Testing
  • Integration testing
  • Testing of the migration of data between builds
  • and so on

First and foremost, Gerrard Consulting brings a goal-oriented, stakeholder-obsessed, proven methodology for creating a test strategy quickly, taking into account the project’s schedule and budgetary constraints. Test strategies always include a clear definition of scope, priorities an approach.

We assign trained experienced resources such as test architects, test managers, tool specialists, security and performance specialists when required, as well as the more traditional teams of systems testers and help for the user testing team. A managed testing approach ensures that the testing is done efficiently and effectively.

Why Choose Gerrard Consulting?

  • We have a long record of accomplishment in software testing. Our flexible approach, huge experience and know-how allows us to define effective test strategies remarkably quickly.
  • Amongst the software testing companies, we uniquely combine a leading-edge consultancy practice, with the provision of managed teams.
  • We are flexible in responding to changing project plans in a dynamic project environment. Most projects are under extreme pressure to deliver in tight and often unrealistic schedules. We are pragmatic and are sensitive to the needs of stakeholders, project management, users and developers.
  • We have partnerships with the major test tool vendors and other specialist test resources such as for security testing and for remote portal-based performance testing.
  • We are independent from the vendor or software developer’s testing teams, e.g., ‘we are not marking our own homework’.

Why does it work?

The measure of success of this service is that the right resources are available at the right time. An additional benefit is that the service frees up senior testing resources from recruiting activities (reviewing CVs, interviewing, taking calls from agencies). This is particularly valuable at project start-up when these activities can occupy a significant portion of the test manager’s time.

As well as providing dedicated testing resources, with a managed team approach, Gerrard Consulting will provide advice and support to help clients over any particular problem or resource demand.

The team is managed using ‘best testing practice’, and even when we are called in after a test strategy has been set, we will make suggestions for improvement if we believe that testing can be done more effectively if a change of practice is adopted.

Contact us and we'll arrange to meet you to explain how we can help.

Test Strategy

It’s our experience that a test approach should to be tailored to meet the specific needs of an organisation and/or a project.

There is no 'one-size fits all'.

Testing needs to take into account organisational culture, people, suppliers and method of working which together combine to make a unique situation. No two organisations are exactly the same. For a project, testing has to account for stakeholder goals, business objectives, technical environment and development approach being deployed. No two projects, even for the same organisation, are the same. We apply our extensive knowledge and experience along with industry good practice to define:

  • An organisation wide testing framework to be used as a model for your individual projects, taking account of both waterfall and agile methods
  • A project specific testing approach that meets your quality goals and takes account of your budget and timescale demands

We will deliver a testing approach that is ‘tailored fit’ to meet your needs. If you’d like to know more, please contact us directly or buy the Testers Pocketbook.

*** If you are interested in an on-site workshop, see our 'Test Strategy in a Day' workshop ***

Test Assurance

Test Assurance critiques your test approach for suitability and effectiveness. At the project initiation stage it’s a form of insurance, supporting the identification and application of the most appropriate testing approach. Test Assurance provides a subjective view with direct feedback to stakeholders and is totally independent from the delivery of the project. When projects get into difficulty, Test Assurance rapidly identifies the issues relating to testing and provides practical & pragmatic actions to get the project back on track. We can provide this service directly or work with your organisation to set-up an internal test assurance function. Both services deliver:

Assess and Improve Your Testing

We help you find smarter and more effective ways to address your testing issues.

  • Are you being asked to do more with less?
  • Are stakeholder goals and concerns being fully addressed?
  • Is acceptance testing more of a challenge than it should be?
  • Are your management and reporting processes fully up to the task?
  • Have you found it difficult to motivate and develop your testers?

We have extensive experience in addressing these challenges. We will work with you to understand your specific goals and challenges and we will target our service to your specific requirements. If you’d like to know more, please contact us directly

Supplier Selection and Management

We can help you meet the challenges in the selection and management of your current and prospective external/internal suppliers and partners. We can help your supplier management by:

  • Evaluating supplier strengths and weaknesses
  • Identifying any major risks associated with your supplier services
  • Developing contract schedules including specific acceptance criteria
  • Refining and improving the commercial relationship with your suppliers
  • Developing plans and techniques for the performance tracking and management of your suppliers

If you’d like to know more, please contact us directly.

Service Description: Test Automation Support

Automated Testing Service

We offer to:

  • Help you to select and implement open source or proprietary tools
  • Accelerate and maximise the return on your investment in test automation
  • Find bugs, security loopholes and performance issues before your customers do
  • Avoid disillusionment with test tools in your organisation
  • Supplement test tool training with skills transfer in the practical real world of your own systems
  • Build a solid basis for making test automation work on subsequent releases and future systems.

Expert assistance in automating testing from Gerrard Consulting will help you meet tight delivery dates, ensure user satisfaction and reduce risks.

Putting test tools to work

If the idea of Computer Aided Software Testing (CAST) tools is new to you, Gerrard Consulting can give you impartial advice. We don't sell tools of our own, but we can help you choose the right one and implement it successfully. We’re experts in putting test tools to work.

The fast pace and high risks of web development have encouraged many organisations to 'Go Agile' and purchase automated test tools for both functional and non-functional – performance and capacity testing.

A test tool can replace repetitive functional regression testing. For web systems, with their heterogeneous and distributed architectures, and target user communities of thousands or even millions, there is no feasible way to ensure adequate performance under load without automated testing.

Though the potential benefits of test automation are clear, and the tools are sophisticated and mature, the payback from test tools often falls far short of expectations. It doesn't need to.

“Know-how” and experience are crucial

There are many important "soft" issues that affect how much you’ll benefit from a test tool. You can choose the right tool from a market-leading vendor, improve your testing processes, sell the idea of automation internally, train your staff, do all the 'right things' and still end up with shelfware. Why?

Test tools look easy enough to be used by manual testers or even business analysts. But to get the best from a tool, automators need many of the same technical skills as programmers with additional experience in the unique problems of test automation. Would you ask your business users to write programs? Do your developers want to spend time testing?

Our experience shows that resolving the "hard" technical issues of test automation is a crucial success factor. To make the most of test tools, you need testers with specific skills in test automation.

Where automation specialists can help

There are many situations where test automation specialists can get you off to a good start with a test tool, add capacity to your test team on pressing projects, recover lost automated test assets, or simply demonstrate conclusively that automated testing works.

  • Are you considering purchasing a test tool, but are unsure you have the skills in-house to make it pay off?
  • Do the testers, programmers, network and web administrators, and management need proof that a tool will pay off?
  • Would you like to quickly convert your existing manual tests into an automated regression suite?
  • Do you need to jump start your automation efforts to meet deadlines?
  • Do you need extra, skilled test automators for a few weeks or months to supplement resources on your in-house team?
  • Do your manual testers or business analysts need further training in using a test tool or in preparing test cases for automation?
  • Do you need to release your skilled programmers from technical support of a test tool to allow them to get on with important development work?
  • Have you used a test tool on a previous project, but lost the skills to maintain and run the tests?

Calling in the experts

Automated testing services from Gerrard Consulting are specifically tailored to your needs. To start, a senior team member will help you assess the requirements. We can then supply a fully managed independent team or work within an integrated team, with individual Gerrard Consulting experts working alongside your manual testers, business analysts, and technical administrators. We can manage the integrated team or work in a team under your own management.

We are equipped to provide a long term outsourced automated testing function or to plan for a shorter-term injection of resource. We can transfer skills to your own staff and establish automation “best practice” and standards as a sound basis for the future.

Partners

Gerrard Consulting has relationships with the leading test tool vendors, including Hewlett-Packard, Original Software and TestPlant.

Contact us and we'll arrange to meet with you to discuss the pros and cons of tools, where open source can help, and what you can do to maximise your chance of benefiting from them.

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