You flunked the test

Too much time is spent testing software development projects.

Here's a trick question: When is software testing a bad thing? Usually considered a virtue in short supply, software testing can also be a vice. That may be the case when it comes to government problems with fielding enterprise resource planning (ERP) software.

At least that's the view of Mark Johnson, lead partner in IBM Public Sector's ERP practice. He believes the kind of exhaustive testing government ERP programs undergo is unnecessary.

"We go through that process of testing and testing and testing that was developed for custom-developed software and not for commercial software," he said at the Air Force Information Technology Conference in 2004.

It is possible to streamline the testing process and not give up any quality. Agencies could test ERP modules as they are developed and then string them together for a final test at the end of the program, he said. Agencies would be better off if officials spent more time at the beginning of the process to better gather user requirements, Johnson said.

The current testing process is a result of pulling together too few requirements upfront, said Lisa Mascolo, a managing partner at Accenture. Without such an assessment, users start to notice deficiencies in what they need too late in the program, she said. Extensive reworking of the software is then required, and those changes in turn need testing.

"But agencies are strapped for knowledgeable and qualified people," she said. "We often find that the most qualified people who should be involved in the initial requirements phase are doing their everyday jobs and are not available [for the ERP project] then."

Nevertheless, Johnson said the way government does things is outmoded, and something must be done to allow for change.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

The Fed 100

Save the date for 28th annual Federal 100 Awards Gala.

Featured

  • computer network

    How Einstein changes the way government does business

    The Department of Commerce is revising its confidentiality agreement for statistical data survey respondents to reflect the fact that the Department of Homeland Security could see some of that data if it is captured by the Einstein system.

  • Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Army photo by Monica King. Jan. 26, 2017.

    Mattis mulls consolidation in IT, cyber

    In a Feb. 17 memo, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told senior leadership to establish teams to look for duplication across the armed services in business operations, including in IT and cybersecurity.

  • Image from Shutterstock.com

    DHS vague on rules for election aid, say states

    State election officials had more questions than answers after a Department of Homeland Security presentation on the designation of election systems as critical U.S. infrastructure.

  • Org Chart Stock Art - Shutterstock

    How the hiring freeze targets millennials

    The government desperately needs younger talent to replace an aging workforce, and experts say that a freeze on hiring doesn't help.

  • Shutterstock image: healthcare digital interface.

    VA moves ahead with homegrown scheduling IT

    The Department of Veterans Affairs will test an internally developed scheduling module at primary care sites nationwide to see if it's ready to service the entire agency.

  • Shutterstock images (honglouwawa & 0beron): Bitcoin image overlay replaced with a dollar sign on a hardware circuit.

    MGT Act poised for a comeback

    After missing in the last Congress, drafters of a bill to encourage cloud adoption are looking for a new plan.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group