Archive for the ‘DELNI and Momentum.’ Tag

Testing… Testing

We all appreciate its importance when the proverbial has hit the fan. Software Testing and Quality Assurance that is. Just ask the organisers of the London Olympics whose online ticketing system has been far from Gold Standard or BAA whose new baggage handling system at Heathrow’s Terminal 5 failed to get off the ground during thenew building’s much heralded opening.

While these high profile examples help prove the case, it is clear that the importance of software quality assurance globally has never been greater. Industry research proves it is increasingly a major differentiator in the global software and technology industries. Not surprising perhaps when both quality and security of technology is now not only business critical but can often be life critical.

At a time when there is a growing trend in software development towards low cost regions such as China and India, there is a need to add value and compete on another level than price alone. Quality Assurance does just that. The question is can NI, with leading edge technology clusters in areas such as digital media, financial software, telecoms and embedded systems get a bigger slice of the global software pie through a focus on Quality?

I for one think the answer is yes and in particular if we all pull together in the same direction. I was delighted to see the newly launched initiative by a group of 20 companies in Northern Ireland supported by Invest NI, DELNI and Momentum, who have come together to encourage people to consider a career in software quality assurance, pledging to create hundreds of jobs between them in this field in the next few years. Among them are global players such as Openwave, Deloitte, Allstate, NYSE, Liberty IT as well as SQS and Navinet, both based at the Science Park.

According to local ICT trade association Momentum, there’s a global shortage of software testers; a shortage which is due partly to a growing emphasis on quality within the international software industry.The other factor is that for some unexplained reason software testing and quality assurance has been seen as the poor relation to software development. Traditionally software testing was excluded from most academic courses here, and unlike software development there were no corresponding professional pathways for software testing. Typically it has been left to individual companies to train their own people in the necessary software testing skills. But that is now changing and software testing is raising its game to emphasise the many and varied career paths available.

Part of the new initiative announced recently includes the creation of a Software Testers Academy to provide graduates with the skills and experience required to take up opportunities in the IT industry. This type of response demonstrates how effective a partnership approach between government, industry and the further education sector can be and hopefully will bear some fruit for the local industry.

I see two major advantages for NI plc in targeting this area. Not only is there massive potential to immediately serve the software testing needs of the international markets of business software, finance, connected health and media but if this campaign promotes and embeds an ethos of quality assurance in our very own software output, then this can provide additional strategic advantage to NI software houses wishing to compete globally.

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