Managing the components of the entire software development & release cycle is no mean feat. Configuration management effectively manages all the components that make up an application or software. When it comes to implementing configuration management in practice, the general view is to accept it plainly as a versioning tool. But, just as the myths surrounding software testing, this is a myth too. Appropriately deployed configuration management practices go a long way in managing source code files, test scripts, automation components, documentation pertaining to the application, review management and any other component that makes up the software.
Configuration management is much more than a tool for managers to track the code changes or delivery, or for developers to work on the precise version of software. The quality assurance team or the third party software testing company benefits equally from this approach and the success of testing depends on configuration management more than what meets the eye.
Configuration Management – Bringing in Reliability toSoftware Testing
Just as configuration management is indispensable to ensure that developers do not overwrite one another’s code or multiple developers work simultaneously on the same module without losing changes, configuration management system also ensures dependable version controls for bringing in reliability to software testing.
Testing the Right Version
The output of the testing process eventually leads to a fool proof final delivery. Hence, it is vital that the testing team has the correct version of the code to perform the testing. Incorrect version results in inappropriate results, as the code to be delivered to customer is not really tested. Lack of configuration management techniques leads to loss of productivity to the testing team, as they move back and forth with the developers to ensure that the correct application version is tested.
Leveraging the Correct Test Parameters
Testing is not just about having the right set of code to begin tests. It is imperative that the correct & verified test scripts are deployed to perform the requisite checks. It is also necessary to determine that accurate quality levels in line with agreed benchmarks are being validated as part of software testing.
The platform changes to the application should be in line with what is agreed for delivery to the customer. Only a properly implemented configuration management system can ensure all the test parameters are accurate for the assurance team to deliver superior results.
Updating the Test Components Correctly
Each test run, whether it is limited to a particular component or the entire applications, results in a wide array of artifacts. Test cases have to be regularly updated till the final rollout is signed off to effectively cater to all possible scenarios.
In case of automated testing, scripts or tool settings may need to be reconfigured, which in turn would be documented somewhere. Test results would be recorded as a reference point and failures or success at each level would be captured.
All these test components would lead to a lot of confusion at an enterprise level in the absence of configuration management system. Email exchange cannot account for every change, and even if a common repository is present, it is incomplete without a proper versioning system.
Configuration Management – The Backbone of Quality
Configuration management systems today are integrated with software rollout systems to support the build & deploy process of the software with an Agile approach including testing with the effectiveness & sharpness of Agile. With proactive record keeping and periodically defined checks, configuration management plays a pivotal role in minimizing risks to the application and ultimately to the enterprise reliant on third party software testing servicesfor efficient performances.
Software or code versioning no longer requires manual efforts and previous history can be browsed & compared with just a few clicks to avoid any discrepancies. Configuration management brings in a lot of enhancements to the entire software development life cycle and improves the reliability of the tests itself.
Configuration management plays a key role in getting the system organized, with all stakeholders aware on the latest release and what components to use. This leads to better managed & more efficient systems.
Configuration management tools come with the capabilities of defining as well as enforcing better project management methodologies like Agile and continuous integration. Auditing and status reporting are an added advantage of properly implemented configuration management systems.
Configuration management is very effective when it comes to reducing duplication of coding efforts or ensuring productivity is not wasted while looking for the right set of latest documents. Configuration management also ensures that IT staff working to maintain &develop the application make minimal mistakes by providing the right code version to work upon.
Configuration management with guidelines of assists with proactive IT asset management along with a wide array of predictive & preventive features when it comes to compliance levels.
Integrating with the Build Process
Configuration management integrates with the rollout pipeline that releases the software code and retains the version history till testing happens and release is marked complete. Configuration management auto updates the code version along with other files and artifacts. In case the rolled out version has problems, configuration management will supply the previous code versions with minimal clicks effectively supporting faster roll backs.
In a Nutshell
Recording bugs and defects is the chief task of the quality assurance teams &third party software testing companies and is a vital aspect to eventually ensure that the application is in the exact state as the customer wants it when it goes to the users. The number of defects logged with each run would vary, and so would the nature & description of defect.
Software testing without configuration management today is next to impossible.For a release manager the possibility of the testers reporting defects against a piece of code that is not version controlled may escalate into a nightmare before identifying the correct versions &testing further.
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