Are Mobile Apps Leaving Quality Assurance Practices Behind?

Consumerization of IT and BYOD have increasingly put IT organizations on the hook to deliver continuous access to employees and customers. But despite the focus on mobility, quality assurance of mobile apps is being left behind.

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Mon, October 22, 2012

CIO — Enterprises everywhere these days are struggling with the consumerization of IT and especially the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) phenomenon. Mobility is changing the way people play and work, and IT organizations are being asked to deliver continuous access to employees and customers using an astonishing array of devices. But despite the importance of mobility, when it comes to quality assurance (QA) of mobile apps, most enterprises are falling behind the curve.

In general, QA has been quietly evolving from in-house testing generalists into a structured and efficient discipline, says Charlie Li, vice president, Global Service Line Testing, at consulting firm Capgemini. QA is exerting more influence on the application development lifecycle. But that holds true only for traditional QA. Most organizations today don't even test their mobile apps, Li says: Only 31 percent of organizations today currently test mobile applications, according to a recent report by Capgemini, its subsidiary Sogeti and HP.

The 2012-2013 World Quality Report was based on 1,553 detailed interviews with senior executives from a range of IT and business-related functions in medium and large companies, government and public sector organizations across 25 countries.

QA Lacks Tools for Mobility Testing

"We found that a large number of organizations out there today do not have the right tools or processes to do mobility testing," says Li, co-author of the World Quality Report.

Sixty-five percent of organizations say they do not have the right tools to test mobile applications, and 52 percent say they do not have access to the required devices. In addition, 34 percent of organizations say they lack the necessary testing methodologies and processes, and 29 percent say they lack the specialist expertise to effectively certify mobile applications.

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"Really, from a development perspective, developing for mobile isn't all that different," Li says. "But QA has been kind of left in the dark. How do you simulate a network, especially a roaming network? How do I get India and China to test a mobile phone roaming in France? What happens when consumers take a device outside the country and begin roaming in a different country? Not all mobile networks are built the same. You have different technologies, speeds and security parameters."

BYOD Exacerbates IT's Problem

The BYOD culture exacerbates the problem, Li says, by dramatically increasing the number of possible combinations that organizations need to consider. After all, in the U.S. you have four carriers, a plethora of operating systems and a multitude of firmware versions.

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