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Less than half of IT organizations today staff the quality assurance (QA) function, yet the skills of a capable IT quality assurance group are essential to improving IT processes in general and application development processes in particular. Quality assurance staff can uncover inconsistencies early in the development cycle, reduce errors, and prevent rework, easily paying its way.
Figure 1 shows that in 2009 only 45% of our sample reported having QA staff. Even in organizations that have dedicated QA personnel, such specialists often include only a few people.
This Research Byte is a summary of our full report, Staffing Ratios for IT Quality Assurance and Testing.
Figure 1 also shows that the percentage of respondents in our survey with in-house QA personnel has remained relatively stable over the past four years. The percentage reporting QA staff has risen slightly from 38% in 2006 to 45% in 2009. It is uncertain whether this represents a significant trend. We can conclude, however, that the percentage of organizations that staff this function has at least remained relatively steady over the period.
We define QA staff as individuals whose job functions entail IT quality assurance, quality control, or testing. Other staff members who perform testing as a component of their job responsibilities (such as unit testing by application programmers) are not included in this category.
The full version of this report, based on a survey of more than 200 IT organizations, provides benchmarks for staffing the QA function. We provide the ratio of QA staff to total IT for the composite sample and by organization size. We also examine the ratio of application developers to QA staff, both for organization size and by level of outsourcing of software development activity. We also examine the four-year trend in QA staffing.
Too often the QA function is viewed within IT as an obstacle to getting work done. Conflict is inevitable. The desire of developers and business managers to meet deadlines and enhance systems, however, needs to be balanced against the need for organizations to ensure quality, reduce waste, and enforce standards. In recent years, the quality and integrity of information systems is being examined more closely because of regulations that address the security and privacy of information. The QA function becomes even more important in light of these requirements.
This Research Byte is a brief overview of our report on this subject, Staffing Ratios for IT Quality Assurance and Testing. The full report is available at no charge for Computer Economics clients, or it may be purchased by non-clients directly from our website (click for pricing).
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