3 Simple Quality Control Tips That Can Save You $7 Billion

A change in code that is not properly reviewed and tested can cost you $7 billion – If you are Microsoft that is! ZDNet recently reported that Microsoft risks $7bn fine after browser ballot failure.

Browser ballot is a feature in Windows that offers the users to install a browser of choice. It is a part of the settlement with the European Union Commission. You can see the Browser Choice in action here. Note that the order of browsers offered on that page changes every time you load the page. More on that later…

The release of Windows 7 SP1 did not include the browser ballot. Microsoft issued the following statement: Due to a technical error, we missed delivering the BCS [browser choice screen] software to PCs that came with the Service Pack 1 update to Windows 7.

The statement does not provide details about the technical error, but we do know that the fine imposed by European Union may include up to 10% of the revenue earned during the time the browser ballot was not available which can amount to a whopping $7 billion.

Here are a couple of tips to help you catch technical errors that can cause the omission of a feature during your release:

1. Capture key requirements and test against them before releasing your product

It is easy to lose sight of individual emails and documents such as Word and Excel spreadsheets being sent around. A QA management tool like QAComplete can help you keep your requirements and tests organized and included in the plans for each consecutive release.

2. Use tool assistance with peer and code reviews

Like in the case of requirements, the primary goal of reviews should be to avoid losing sight of elephants in the room. Review the build scripts and smoke tests with a code review tool such as Code Collaborator to make sure you don’t miss an important feature.

3. Add test automation and test result evaluation for confidence that you are ready to release

Test automation with tools such as TestComplete is an excellent way to improve regression testing and to provide confidence in new releases. You can automate key use cases and run them repeatedly on each new build. A simple test that checks if the browser choice screen is available would catch omission of a feature.

These are just some basic steps for improvement of your quality control process. Automation can help you achieve so much more. For example, you can verify if the order of browsers displayed in the Browser Choice Screen is truly random. Also read this interesting study from a couple of years back by Slovak tech site dsl.sk which reported that the order of browsers in the Browser Choice Screen is not exactly random.

More than ever, quality is the key to success of your business. Think of the Microsoft example as a warning to get your quality processes in shape. Can you afford to lose 10% of your revenue due to a “technical error”?

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