Development discipline will be rewarded, says HP

New Zealand has lagged behind quality control trend, says consultant

A drive for tighter control over software quality, combined with a rush of system refresh projects, should mean plenty of business for those selling products and services that support good governance and disciplined applications’ development, said speakers at an HP software tools presentation last week.

Darren McTigue, of consultancy Assurity, told the audience that, in 2006, when he was with Synergy (now Fronde) in the UK, he saw organisations advance quickly from having almost no idea of how to ensure quality to developing a deep interest in the idea — with their competence rising accordingly.

New Zealand has lagged behind this trend by a couple of years, he says. “But now it’s beginning to happen here.” The pressure of a tight economy will encourage rather than discourage investment in the proper control of application quality.

Sam Higgins, an analyst with Longhaus, told the audience that the average life of technology is about eight-and-a-half years. In the 1990s, the renewal cycles worked independently in different companies, and in business units within a company, producing a staggered cycle and a fairly steady overall flow of upgrade work. However, Y2K demanded a massive simultaneous renewal.

“That put us all on the same cycle. Now that cycle is coming to an end [and] we will be renewing ICT at a time when business is constrained.”

The wisdom of spending upfront on a good requirements definition, which arises from well understood business needs, as well as disciplined development and testing, was a recurring theme.

“Most defects in applications are discovered in the testing phase,” HP’s SOA specialist, Raymond Lambie, told the audience. “But second to that is the production phase.”

It is quite common to find faults when the application is up and running in the business. The cost of fixing a late bug is many times that of fixing an early one, so proper controls make good sense, said Lambie.

The suite of products introduced by HP, under the name Business Technology Optimisation (BTO), largely come from testing specialist Mercury. Originally an Israeli operation, the company subsequently moved to New York and was taken over by HP in 2006.

The Mercury product range encompasses application lifecycle management, a configuration management database, and testing, performance and security monitoring, and change-control tools. It takes in the research phase of evaluating the needs of the business, as well as the development and operational phases.

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