How We Reduce Costs And Waste By Aligning Testing With The SDLC

Posted by John Bunting on 11 December 2012

Testing can suck up a significant portion of the budget – in terms of money, time and resources - for any IT project. But if your testing regime isn’t fully lined up with your SDLC, that investment may not produce the high quality, on-time, on-budget results you expect. At Optimation, we work across the full SDLC so we take a holistic view of quality and outcomes. A common mistake we see is organisations over-investing in improvements to their testing practice in isolation from the SDLC, when in fact some of the biggest gains – in terms of reduced waste, improved costs and better business outcomes – may be found in in areas outside of testing’s direct control.

Based on industry metrics and data we’ve collected over the years from our clients, as well as our own project experiences, we’ve identified several areas where cost over-estimates or over-runs commonly occur. These are also the places where significant cost savings can be achieved through straightforward improvements to processes, methodologies and governance. As you can see from the chart below, the interesting point is that most of these areas are traditionally outside of Testing’s influence or control, instead lying within the wider SDLC.

testing reasons for cost overruns

What this indicates is that improving your Test Practices maturity will add value, but improvements in Requirements, Environments and Design are likely to return even greater rewards in terms of your testing speed and costs.

So how do you achieve this? Our approach is to work with clients to identify ways of lowering their overall cost of quality. That means that we look at the whole organisation, not just at the Testing area, to best determine what changes will add the greatest value.

The diagram below shows a number of generic test activities across the Software Testing Lifecycle (STLC, on the right) and how they should align to the basic SDLC:

Testing align SDLC and STLC

The problem is, in the real world what usually happens is that all of the testing activities end up being compressed into the Testing Phase when they should actually occur throughout the SDLC. This late involvement of testing will increase both the cost of detecting defects and of their resolution. By contrast, if defects can be prevented or identified and resolved earlier in the SDLC then the cost of quality will be significantly reduced and you’ll also cut down on wasted testing time and effort.

A key feature of Optimation’s Testing Framework is the Test Management Process, which sets out where Testing and the wider SDLC most commonly interact. This helps clarify when to engage Testing and what key artefacts should be being produced by or are required by the Test team. This is then coupled with an appropriate project governance framework to ensure the smooth flow of information to and from Testing to give the client the right information at the right time to make good decisions.