The following post is a guest contribution from Brian Le Suer, CEO of Zeenyx Software, Inc -- a company that provides an automated software testing solution that allows teams to build manual and automated tests.
I recently read a Princeton University study about success, specifically about how much of success should be attributed to the inherent qualities of the successful thing, and how much was just chance.
What the study showed was:
"It's hard to make things of very poor quality succeed -- although after you meet a basic standard of quality, what becomes a huge hit and what doesn't is essentially a matter of chance."
Apparently the masses tend to go along with what they perceive others think is valuable.
Although the study was about works of art, it got me thinking about how the idea might apply to software products, especially given that in our wired culture, 'going viral' often spells success.
Is the product with the largest market share always the best product?
Clearly being the market leader has its advantages. For one, it's perceived as a safe bet. A decision-maker doesn't feel exposed when choosing a product that has been selected by so many others.
Saving product evaluation time
Perhaps a justification for following the crowd might be that it saves the time that would otherwise be required to conduct a thorough product evaluation.
But what are the opportunity costs of not exploring newer technologies that might improve quality, save time and reduce costs?
In the field of software testing, I recommend to all of our prospective clients that they complete a thorough evaluation, because each organisation and software product has unique requirements.
Important skills considerations
Beyond making sure that a test tool can drive and verify a software application under test, I encourage them to consider whether the usage requirements match the skill sets of their staff members and how test maintenance will impact the cost of ownership over the long haul.
Too often, I think we can all get stuck tracing the same steps that we've followed in the past. We don't like paradigm shifts because they feel risky, but what might be even more precarious is to continue using a tool or an approach that is no longer effective or efficient.
Comfort zones & damage limitation
Recently I engaged with a customer, who has a large staff base that is deeply invested in a tool set and methodology that is no longer working for their organisation. They are spending enormous amounts of time and money patching and working around issues.
Much of this damage control is under the radar so far.
While some of the team members are excited about recent innovations in our field, others throw up barriers because they are threatened by the prospect of moving out of their comfort zones.
It's an interesting twist, because in this case, staying with what's comfortable is what is putting the organisation at risk. I have no doubt that when these followers are found out, they are going to lose their jobs.
Brian LeSuer began as a QA engineer using the testing tools available in the early 1980's. Today he says he is excited to be building the next generation testing tool that will increase the productivity and effectiveness of test & development teams. With AscentialTest, Zeenyx provides an enterprise level Test Management System that encompasses Test Planning, Test Development, Test Data Management and Test Execution.