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Testing times

Marco Venzelaar
July 12, 2019

When the Wright brothers started their first flight they had probably tested all the possible outcomes with their Wright Flyer I before they took it to the sky. Testing the flight software was easy… There was none. Even when de Havilland developed the first commercial jet aircraft, the Comet, they tested a lot of things from the more complicated jet engines to the pressurised cabin. Unfortunately, the square windows were not properly tested. When the first 737 took to the sky in 1967, computers were there to assist the pilot. The latest version of the 737 (yes this is the MAX) is now programmed to avoid crashing… A very different setup from those computers more than 50 years ago!!! 

Life and work are getting more complicated and so we have to take the time to ensure we properly test every aspect. Like with the Wright Brothers the testing of the aircraft took merely days as the systems were simplistic, but over time jet engines, avionic computers were added and so we need to take more time to test. We are not that far off introducing AI in aircraft, being it military drones for now, but who knows what the future brings. Testing will get more complicated, testing AI will add another dimension to that. Rik Marelis wrote an excellent blog about testing AI a few years ago. 

Developing more complicated systems including AI means in principle that there will be longer periods of testing. Agile can help to shorten that and does a great job in that. The next step in shortening the time needed to bring complex products to the market is by having QA at every level to ensure we don’t have to spend an excruciating amount of time testing at the end. 

When the first piston aircraft engine was strapped into the Wright Flyer of the Wright brothers it was tested but it probably took a couple of hours and that’s it. Today’s Rolls Royce jet engines go through rigorous testing before they even leave the factory and “smoke testing” when they are attached to the aircraft. It certainly takes longer than that Wright Flyer in 1903. By testing in the factory, it shortens the amount of testing that ultimately needs to be done before an aircraft is delivered to its customer. This is the same with software development programs, test early and ensure quality responsibility throughout the life cycle allows you to shorten your test cycle. This is exactly what came out of the Continuous Testing Report that we issued with Broadcom last year. 

As a further development, we are now also incorporating RPA and Integrated QA into the program or even organisation wide situations to achieve further time savings and allow project resources to focus on high-value activities. As I explained in previous blogs; this is what we call NextGenQA

The examples are plentiful around us and have proven to be working, but at the same time, this process of implementing Agile and also NextGenQA is a strategic implementation and requires a structured and controlled approach. It is certainly a journey that companies are interested in so if you are interested too, we can have an open conversation about this. Ping us a message, tweet or an email and we can tell you in great detail how this can benefit your organisation.  

About the author

Managing Consultant | Test Automation | UK
Marco started his career in Quality Assurance with ISO certifications including environmental and safety regulations. His attention to detail on processes continued into his career as an expert testing consultant where he integrated this with his passion for test automation, performance testing and now applying this to Cognitive QA.


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