Saturday, December 18, 2010

Helping Small Businesses

It's a fact: small businesses power our economy. They create the majority of jobs, spend more money as an aggregate than larger companies and yet when it comes to software quality they are probably the least adept. I can't say I blame them. I'd imagine that most software companies fit into the small businesses category (the definition of which varies so lets say under 20 employees) and as an employee of one I can say that most of the quality processes and tools are out of reach.

Why is that? Quality initiatives started in the defense industry and eventually filtered down into smaller (but still massive) businesses. The truth is most of the companies that can afford to invest in improving quality via tools, people and/or processes are businesses with lots of resources. That puts small businesses like mine in a bind. We can't afford to purchase large (co$tly) tools when we only have one person in the whole department. Why hasn't anyone exploited this market? (My excuse is that I'm not a coder.)

Small business quality tools for:
  • Automation - regression testing, web application testing (selenium is very limited)
  • Bug Tracking (actually there are a few)
  • Manual testing - all kinds of options here
Microsoft came out with Visual Studio Test Edition but you have to have Team Systems which is very expensive. Bug tracking software is pretty cheap these days but automation software and most other testing tools are either expensive or non existent.

Just imagine how much quality would improve if we could design tools and processes for people who work in small businesses. Think of how much we'd be helping small businesses!

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