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Quality, per J.M. Juran, is fitness for use. The presence of attributes and features that  will satisfy customers, users, and other stakeholders, as well as the absence of attributes (e.g., bugs) that will dissatisfy them.

Resources for “Quality”


Testing is an excellent means to build confidence in the quality of software before it’s deployed in a data center or released to customers. It’s good to have confidence before you turn an application loose on the users, but why wait until the end of the project? The most efficient form of quality assurance is building software the right way, right from the start. What can software testing, software quality, and software engineering professionals do, starting with the first day of the project, to deliver quality applications?

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Quality Software

By Rex Black

I suspect that, in the near future, many types of software will become commoditized, just as many types of computer hardware have. The open-source phenomenon is leading the way, with Linux and Apache ascendant on the Internet. Regardless of the motives of the partisans of open-source software, the motives of the important business users of these open-source applications are clear: They want cheap software with the same quality levels as the commercial alternatives. 

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Testing can be considered an investment. A software organization—whether an in-house IT shop, market-driven shrink-wrap software vendor, or Internet ASP— chooses to forego spending money on new projects or additional features to fund the test team. What’s the return on that investment (ROI)? Cost of quality analysis provides one way to quantify ROI.

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Information appliances, which provide simplified, easy access to specific information such as e-mail and Web sites, promise to bring the benefits of computing to a wide customer base, including some computer-averse people who have hitherto avoided buying a computer. Internet appliances are evolving from personal computers, game stations, digital mobile phones, and server technologies. While this allows us to apply well-known quality assurance techniques, including testing techniques, the software quality professional must remember that the risks to product quality are different; the quality bar is higher, especially in terms of usability, robustness, and harmonizing the appliance with the dynamic Internet. Customers will assess the quality of information appliances by the degree to which the appliance reliably, quickly, transparently, and intuitively provides them with access to the desired information, and we expect them to be much less understanding of glitches than the current PC user. Information appliances are gaining wide acceptance—millions will hit the market in the next few years—so many of us who practice software quality professions will spend time working on projects to develop them. Indeed, we expect that information appliances will present tremendous opportunities to those who seek to bring quality to software in the new millennium. This paper presents the test team’s findings on one such project.

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"Back in 2010, at the launch of Core Magazine,, I wrote a series of columns to welcome people to the magazine. As a sort of Throw-Back-December, here they are, as they appeared in the original magazine issues. I hope you enjoy them."
-Rex Black
Greetings, and welcome to my quarterly column on software testing best practices.  When I was asked to write this column, I had to choose the approach, the theme.  The writers' aphorism says, "Write what you know." So, what do I know?
Well, if you know me and my consulting company, RBCS, you know that we spend time with clients around the world, in every possible industry, helping people improve their testing with training or consulting services, or doing testing for them with our outsourcing services.  Our work gives me insights into what goes on, the actual day-to-day practice of software testing.

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Engineering Quality for Bananas

By Rex Black, Daniel Derr, Michael Tyszkiewicz

[How can dumb monkeys built from free tools help you? Give this article a read to see a case study.  Originally published in Software Testing Professional magazine in 2008, these ideas and techniques are still relevant to SDETs, Technical Test Engineers, and Technical Test Analysts looking to build their own automation solutions using open-source components.]

Arrowhead Electronic Healthcare has been creating eDiarys on handheld devices since 1999. Arrowhead helps pharmaceutical research and marketing organizations document important information about how their products are being used in patients’ homes.

ePRO-LOG is Arrowhead’s third generation eDiary product. The primary design goal of ePRO-LOG is to be able to rapidly deploy diaries used for data collection in clinical trails and disease management programs.

A typical diary may include 100 forms translated in 15 or more languages, and used in several locales. This results in a large number of software builds and configurations.  As a result, we needed an automated test tool to address potential risks and to automate common tasks.

The most important quality risks we wanted to address were:

  • Reliability
  • Translation completeness
  • Functionality of UI
  • Input error checking
  • Verification of requirements

We needed an automated test tool with the following capabilities and features:

  • Address defined risks
  • Produce accurate form-flow diagrams
  • Reduce tedium and opportunity for error in manual testing
  • Save effort associated with manual testing for these risks
  • Improve time-to-market by reducing test cycle duration through 24x7 testing
  • Provide auditable documentation
  • Handle any screen flow or translation without custom test scripts (i.e., be trial-independent)
  • Be easy to implement and cost effective

This is a case study in how we reduced our risks and achieved our test automation objectives in just a few months on a total tools outlay of $0.

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Towards a True Engineering Profession

Recorded February 18, 2014

Ten Bugs that Shook the World

Recorded January 2, 2014

Is Testing a Waste of Time and Money

Recorded October 23, 2013

Podcast Episodes

Why Does Software Quality (Still) Suck

Length: 1h 49m 0s

Software quality, for the most part, sucks. It still sucks, seventy-five years since the advent of the programmable computer. Software bugs are a constant fact of life, thanks to the ubiquity of software and the ubiquity of software bugs. Sometimes the bugs costs millions of dollars or kill people. Why is the reaction so muted? Rather than just accept software bugs as unavoidable, let’s ask the obvious question: Given that manufacturing is able to achieve six sigma levels of quality—i.e., only three defective items per million manufactured—why does software quality still suck? In this webinar, Rex will address some of the real barriers to achieving six sigma quality in software, while at the same time holding software engineering as a profession accountable for not doing nearly as much as we can.

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Let’s suppose you bought a car. Six days later, someone from the dealership let himself into your garage, removed the tires on the car, installed some “updated” tires that actually had holes in them, and then left. In the morning, your car was there in the garage, all sad and undriveable on its flat, flabby tires. That’s clearly unacceptable, in fact even criminal, but we allow the same thing to happen all the time with software. Why? In this webinar, Rex will catalog infamous automated software updates, released without sufficient testing to wreak havoc, or at least inconvenience. He’ll then give a detailed roadmap for reducing your chances of being part of the problem.

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Some people use the terms “verification” and “validation” interchangeably, but there are significant differences between them. Some people disparage verification, or deny that it’s even involved in testing. However, you can’t adequately build confidence and reduce risk in the software you test without using the proper mix of both. In this webinar, Rex will clarify the meaning of these two terms, give examples, and explain why both are essential to proper software testing.

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Webinar: Two Bug Metrics, Millions in Process Improvement

Length: 1h 20m 50s

When we do assessments, we always try to look at process metrics. In most cases, we can find millions of dollars in process improvement opportunities. In this webinar, Rex will show you how two very simple bug metrics, calculated using only two simple facts for each bug report using simple, free spreadsheets you can get from our website, can reveal millions and millions of dollars in potential process improvements. All the more reason to track those bugs! To paraphrase Timothy Leary: Tune in, download, and drop software co

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Shift Left and Friends

Length: 1h 0m 28s

Shift left. Continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD). Continuous deployment. DevOps. What is all this stuff and what does it mean for you as the tester? In this keynote, Rex Black will explain these concepts and their test implications.  He’ll then describe the emerging role of the SDET (Software Development Engineering in Test, also called SET) and what SDETs do.  Yes, being an SDET is about test automation, but it’s about a lot more than that, and Rex will give you some examples of things you can expect to do as an SDET in a shift left world over the coming decade.  Don’t worry. Life as a tester in the SDET reality is gonna be fun and exciting, and Rex will give you some ideas how.

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One Key Idea: Test Automation ROI

Length: 0h 18m 11s

Test automation is all the rage.  Spinning away in Agile lifecycles or playing key roles in DevOps pipelines, automation is supposed to be everywhere, right? However, such widespread automation is a big investment. If you want to obtain management approval for the kind of automation investments all the webinar and conference talking heads are saying you simply must do right now, you better be able to talk automation ROI. In this One Key Idea session, Rex will explain the measurable business benefits of test automation and how to calculate automation ROI.  In twenty minutes or less, you’ll learn how to bridge the gap between automation techno-speak and the managerial bottom-line focus.

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For nearly ten years, RBCS has run a highly successful free webinar series.  In 2018, we’re adding the Two Points of View at Two series to our monthly webinar rotation. In each of these sessions, Rex Black will talk with another software luminary about topics of mutual interest, where the two have some different views, and then Rex opens the floor to questions. 

In this inaugural session, Rex is happy to welcome Maaret Pyhäjärvi .  Maaret’s bio describes her as feedback fairy with a day job at F-Secure, where they call her a Lead Quality Engineer. She identifies as empirical technologist, tester and programmer, catalyst for improvement, author and speaker, and community facilitator and conference organizer. You can catch her latest thoughts on her blog at

In this session, Rex and Maaret will discuss tester-developer collaboration and the relationships between testers and developers.  How to approach developers for collaboration? How do testers-developers ratios affect relationships? What about people who move between tester and developer roles? Join Rex and Maaret to hear their thoughts and ask your questions.

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ISTQB Virtual Advanced Security Tester Boot Camp

The Advanced Security Tester Boot Camp course, created by Rex Black, past President of the International Software Testing Qualifications Board (ISTQB), past President of the American Software Testing Qualifications Board (ASTQB) and co-author of a number of International Software Testing Qualifications Board syllabi, is ideal for testers and test teams preparing for certification in a short timeframe with time and money constraints.

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ISTQB Virtual Advanced Test Automation Engineer Boot Camp

The Advanced Test Automation Engineer Boot Camp, created by Rex Black, past President of the International Software Testing Qualifications Board (ISTQB), past President of the American Software Testing Qualifications Board (ASTQB) and co-author of a number of International Software Testing Qualifications Board syllabi, is ideal for testers and test teams preparing for certification in a short timeframe with time and money constraints.

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Black-box Bug-a-thon

If you are looking to spend one day learning powerful test techniques in a hands-on way using real apps, and having fun while doing so in a friendly yet competitive setting, this black-box bug-a-thon is for you.

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