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Keynote Presentations

    1. The Current State of IT Application Quality
    2. Testers: Get Out of the Quality Assurance Business
Wednesday, October 20 - 8:30 a.m.

The Current State of IT Application Quality

Bill Curtis, PhD
SVP & Chief Scientist, CAST Software
Director, Consortium for IT Software Quality

Lack of visibility into the technical health of critical business applications creates business and financial risks that include application outages, security breaches, degraded performance, data corruption, and excessive ownership costs.  This problem is exacerbated by the multiple languages and technologies that are integrated into modern business applications. In his keynote address, Dr. Bill Curtis will present the results of CAST's state of the industry report on IT application quality.  This report was based on an analysis of over 500 business applications covering multiple industry segments such as financial services, telecommunications, and government.  The applications were developed in multiple languages including Java, C++, SQL, COBOL, ABAP and spanned technology platforms such as mainframes and retail websites. The results address software engineering and architectural practices as well as several attributes of software quality such as robustness, maintainability, performance, and security. Implications for improving IT application quality that can be drawn from this report will also be covered.

In his presentation, Bill will discuss:

  • The state of IT application quality by quality attribute
  • The most frequently violated rules of good coding and architectural practice
  • How quality differs across industry segments, languages, and technology platforms
  • Opportunities for quality professionals to improve IT application quality

Dr. Bill Curtis is Senior Vice President and Chief Scientist with CAST, a leader in providing technology for measuring application software quality.  He is co-author of the Capability Maturity Model (CMM), the People CMM, and the Business Process MM.  Bill was a co-founder of TeraQuest, acquired by Borland.  He is a former Director of the Software Process Program in the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University.  Prior to joining the SEI, Dr. Curtis worked for MCC, ITT's Programming Technology Center, GE Space Division, and taught statistics at the University of Washington.  He has published four books, over 150 articles, and was recently elected a Fellow of the IEEE for his contributions to software process improvement and measurement.

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Thursday, October 21 - 8:30 a.m.

Testers: Get Out of the Quality Assurance Business

Michael Bolton,

The Agile movement, continuous changes in technology, and the ubiquity of computing devices have all prompted discussion about the role of the tester. Whatever the organizational structure of our development shops, it’s time for us testers to get out of the quality assurance business.  If you're a tester, you're typically not allowed to change the source code, the scope of the product, the budget, staffing, schedule, customer relationships, market placement, or the development model.  So how, exactly, can testers assure quality?

Michael Bolton argues that testers cannot assure quality, nor should they try.  Decisions about quality and how to assure it are in the hands of those with the authority to make such decisions, the programmers who write the code and the managers who run the project.  Testing is not confirmation, verification, and validation of what we already know or hope to be true.  Instead, testing is focused far more on exploration, discovery, investigation, and learning.  In this view, when we’re doing our best work, we’re providing valuable, timely information about the actual state of the product and the project. We don’t own quality; we help the people who are responsible for quality and the things that influence it.

In his keynote presentation, Michael will discuss these ideas:

  • Testers don't "own" quality, are not quality gatekeepers, and don't have an exclusive claim on speaking for the customer.
  • Testers are skilled investigators and systems thinkers, diversifying their tools, skills, and tactics to apply many different perspectives on value and problems that might threaten it.
  • Testing centers on the skill set and the mindset of the individual tester.  Testing and testing education must become interdisciplinary, adopting learning, skills, and techniques from economics, anthropology, cognitive psychology, philosophy, and many other disciplines.

Michael Bolton has been teaching software testing on five continents for ten years.  He is the co-author, with senior author James Bach, of Rapid Software Testing, a course that presents a methodology and mindset for testing software expertly in uncertain conditions and under extreme time pressure.  He has been Program Chair for the Toronto Association of System and Software Quality, and 2008 Conference Chair for the Association of Software Testing.  He wrote a column in Better Software Magazine for four years, and sporadically produces his own newsletter.  Michael lives in Toronto, Canada, with his wife and two children.

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