Belfast Telegraph

Business Soapbox: Rob McConnell

Software-testing has been described as the 'poor relation' of software development but it is a crucial part of the IT industry. If Northern Ireland is to excel in this sector, the discipline needs support to develop our international reputation

When you buy a product such as a car, TV or mobile phone, you assume that all of the parts have been tested and that it will perform as described. The software industry is no different - strict testing procedures are required and solutions must deliver a 'right-first-time' result.

Therefore the role of software testing in ensuring the success of our products and services cannot be underestimated.

The scope of the software- testing domain is far-reaching - each element of a designed solution must be rigorously tested. Failure to do so can result in issues that can embarrass the client but also damage a business reputation. I think the recent problems encountered by both Sony and London 2012 clearly demonstrate the vital role testing has to play to ensure seamless end-user delivery.

However, in my opinion, the profession of software testing has been much maligned over the years, being viewed by many as a 'poor relation' to software development. I feel that if Northern Ireland is to attract future investment then that must be addressed. This will require a co-ordinated approach and for stakeholders to recognise testing as a profession in its own right.

It is my belief that change must start at home. The IT sector must work as one to raise the profile of the profession. We will require investment and support from the Executive in order to promote our IT skill-set, both domestically and internationally.

I am delighted to say that work has already begun in this respect. Invest NI and the Department for Employment and Learning recently announced details of a new training programme for software testing. Supported by leading IT organisations, the Software Testers' Academy offers non-IT graduates the opportunity to become certified software testers.

Initiatives such as this will do much to advance Northern Ireland's already growing infrastructural reputation. However, we must not stand still - rather we must build upon this success and ensure that Northern Ireland plc has the skills required to compete on the global stage.

Rob McConnell is SQS group director