Mercury Interactive Updates BPT Software

It is axiomatic to say that testing and QA are the ugly stepchildren of the software development process. Everyone knows code quality is important, but so are features and deadlines. And when it's crunch time, testing and QA get short shrift.

"There's always a chance that deadlines will cut into the testing," says Leanne Stumph, QA manager at Raymond James. "The key is to automate the process, to provide a structured testing process that employs a lot of reusable components and is accessible to non-technical users. That [strategy] decreases the overall testing time and makes things more flexible for business analysts, who can pool the tests they need to run."

Raymond James is one of the largest financial services firms in the U.S., with 220 branches worldwide. Stumph leads the 12-member QA team in the company's Technology Risk Management department, which supports its growing 250-member application development department.

A few years ago, the company deployed a testing tool from Mercury Interactive called QuickTest Professional, a component of Mercury's Quality Center solutions suite. But Stumph says it proved to be too developer-centric for her company's business analysts.

"So we started to develop our own testing framework," she says. "At some point, we showed what we were doing to the folks at Mercury to get their feedback; we wanted to know whether what we were doing made any sense. They said that, not only did it make perfect sense, but they were working on something very similar. And we became very early adopters of their Business Process Testing software."

Launched last September, Mercury's BPT tool was created to enable business-process owners and designers to work with software QA teams to test mission-critical applications. As part of Mercury's Quality Center suite, BPT “closes the gap between the business people who design the business processes and the technical people who design and deliver the applications,” Mercury's CMO Christopher Lochhead told AppTrends.

Mercury has just released an updated version with "user-acceptance" features and expanded integration with other testing tools, including Mercury's WinRunner regression testing software and SPI Dynamics' QAInspect.

User-acceptance testing (UAT) is traditionally a time-consuming process, says John Novak, senior product manager in Mercury's Business Process Testing group. It's the phase of the test process during which the business sees the application for the first time.

“This is when you might have people from finance or manufacturing—people who know the business side of the house but typically have little or no programming knowledge—logging in and using the UAT module to step through the tests that have been automated using BPT," he explains, "and independently certifying that the app has passed or failed each test before it gets released into production. Basically, it gives you a third wall within the system to validate the testing process."

Automating software testing for non-technical users has made it possible for the QA and business teams at Raymond James to operate in tandem, says Stumph, increasing the efficiency of the testing process and freeing up resources.

"When we share roles, we increase the number and frequency of the tests," she says. "And that allows people to spend more time doing other things."

The company now uses BPT and QuickTest Professional in combination, and employs five members of the QA team to write automated test scripts.

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About the Author

John K. Waters is a freelance writer based in Silicon Valley. He can be reached at [email protected].