Software Test Team, from left: Louise Gibbs, Julian Smith, Tom Woodward, Richard Mead, Hemanth Pallapotu, Neil Collins.

Meet the software test team at Malvern Panalytical, a group of people dedicated to defending the quality of the software used for all our products. We will discuss why the work they do is so important but also demonstrate why quality is everyone’s responsibility, not just the responsibility of the software test team.  

There is a famous philosophical riddle that raises the question of observation and perception: “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

I’m going to take a less philosophical approach to answering the question by rewording it: If a bug exists within a product and there is no tester around to find it, does it make a sound?

My answer to the question is ‘Yes!’ – and not only does it make a sound, that sound gets louder and louder the longer it remains undiscovered. The impact of bugs increase the longer they remain undiscovered, affecting both Malvern Panalytical and potential customers. Above all, as a company that strives to produce high-quality products we need to make sure that nothing deviates from this design.

Test early and test often

Our software testing team are dedicated to continually testing our software applications allowing us to test early and test often. As a result, this ensures that the quality of our systems remains high at all stages of the development process.  Bugs are removed as early as possible before they start making too much of a sound. Defects found during pre-release testing can result in delayed launch which can cause issues for customers reliant on our systems. Consequently issues found after release, by customers, can have an even worse impact. A worst-case scenario, for example, could be that the data collected by the customer was invalid. This wastes a huge amount of time, money and resource as a result. It is our job to make sure that this doesn’t happen.

Who is responsible for Quality?

Software testing is not the sole responsibility of the Software Test team. At Malvern Panalytical, we believe that everyone is responsible for quality – and we’re not just talking about the software. All aspects of a system (instrument and software) are the responsibility of the entire team. The software team specialize in development of the software but also play a role in the development of the hardware. We have specialists working on all aspects of the product – electronics, mechanics, firmware, software – but each specialist also ensures that their section interacts with the other areas as well. The hardware and software of a system are not separate entities. In other words the hardware needs the software to perform most operations, and the software needs the hardware to gather data for analysis.

Everyone at Malvern Panalytical are listening for bugs. By working together we ensure that even the quietest ones are heard as early as possible.

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Note: Image from Steve Helsby