Business Analysis Meets Test Analysis

Desigan Moonsamy is a principal consultant with 11 years’ experience in Information Systems, holds an Honours BSc degree in Information Systems and as a member of the Solution Delivery leadership team, Desigan manages, mentors and coaches both graduate and junior consultants.

What are the unique project pressures and challenges of being responsible for quality testing during the later stages of solution delivery?

The System and Integration Testing phase, all too often, bears the brunt of any delays to the project schedule. Analysis, Design and Development teams are usually afforded some leeway, as there is nothing if there is no software.

However, with tight project deadlines there is immense pressure on the tester, who is faced with the challenge of achieving the same high test coverage, but in the significantly reduced time.

The pressure to work faster, meet quality objectives and further take ownership of software failures weighs heavily on the psyche of a tester.

Do you think business analysts possess the requisite knowledge and skills to perform testing tasks sufficiently?

Test analysis needs to operate at a much lower level of detail, systematically breaking down functionality, pushing the system to its limits with technical tests and identifying failure points. This is tough to achieve when not properly educated and trained. Furthermore, a business analyst can develop a bias to their solution, while the tester offers an unbiased view from the perspective of: How do I break this?

When a solution is not tested to the appropriate level of detail, the risk of a defect preventing business operation is high, and can result in financial and reputational loss to the business.

Should we opt for a business analyst over a test analyst?

Not unless the business analyst is also a trained test analyst. Given an ideal business analyst and test analyst situation, where should the boundaries of responsibility be positioned Business analysts are fantastic in supporting business to complete User Acceptance Testing (UAT) as – having been closest to the client and spending many hours understanding their needs – the role is in prime position to validate that the right solution has been built.

The lower-level verification testing, such as component, system and integration is best completed by skilled testers. The person needs to verify that the solution remains robust through the test phases: checking for correctness, completeness, ambiguity and so on. If I skip to Integration testing, this requires intimate knowledge of how the various components are meant to work together. Testers expend a lot of effort in verifying that the solution is working from a technical perspective.

How do you feel about the stereotypical ‘Tester to Business Analyst to Project Manager’ industry career path?

Testing is a wonderful place to start a career, as it exposes all disciplines and gives a true hands-on feel for opportunities in the wider software industry, whilst building fundamental skills that are applicable across disciplines and various levels. This provides you with a great background and platform from which to launch into related specialisations as your career progresses.

The future is “T-shaped” individuals: a jack of trades and master of one.

Having true depth in one specialty of either testing, business analysis or project management, combined with competent skills in the remaining two allows one to critically evaluate a problem and provide a practical and robust business solution.

What is it about the quality assurance & testing career that has kept your dedication and passion for it alive?

Over the years, I have been fortunate to have had great exposure within the discipline from high-level black-box testing, to in-depth technical testing such as automation and non-functional tests. I thoroughly enjoy applying my mind to challenging situations and working through a solution that has long-term benefits.

There is a real sense of quality focus in the industry at the moment, and I am helping organisations form solid Quality Assurance practices that provide a foundation for their success. Knowing that I add value energises me. All of the above gives me a true appreciation for the discipline, and it remains a truly challenging and rewarding one for me.

The full ‘Business Analysis Meets Test Analysis‘ article was first published in the 2016 Inter-View Report. To continue the conversation, connect with @DesiganM1 and @Newbert on Twitter, and share how you think business analysis meets test analysis.