Testing new applications early in the development cycle both improves the quality of the resulting applications and dramatically cuts the cost of fixing bugs.

This is according to Thomas Cronje, SA team leader: application quality at Compuware, who says that by implementing continuous integrated testing (CIT), organisations can move their applications into production on time and with far fewer defects.

"At one time IT had the luxury of focusing on building the best application possible, often without severe time-frame limitations.

"Today, with budget constraints and a brutally competitive marketplace, business managers are under pressure to find new ways to improve business performance," he says.

"IT therefore has to balance the need to respond to shorter deadlines with that of ensuring an adequate level of quality for the applications it delivers."

CIT is the new approach for cost-effectively increasing both the number of testing cycles and the resulting application quality. At the same time, it decreases the amount of time it takes to find problems and the cost of fixing them.

"The methodology is increasingly being viewed as an effective solution that helps IT organisations successfully marry development and quality assurance (QA) to meet the business’ needs," says Cronje.

"It builds on the success that many organisations have found using continuous integration, a methodology focused on integrating the components of an application more frequently than traditional development approaches – from every week to daily."

CIT extends this approach by incorporating functional testing. With CIT, application testing starts at the beginning of the development phase with a full test cycle executed nightly.

It is a combined development and testing methodology that enables organisations to maximise the use of testing throughout the development process to increase overall application quality.

"In traditional models, application testing is a distinct phase that does not start until after development is completed," Cronje explains.

"With CIT, application testing begins as soon as development starts, resulting in continuous test cycles. This enables developers to isolate application problems as they are introduced and take corrective action immediately, rather than handing them over to testing, where it may take several cycles to detect the error."

This approach has a number of benefits, including defect minimisation, shortened testing time, cost reduction over time, and the provision of integrated tools for development and QA.

With the proper CIT-oriented tools, developers and testers can work together in a team-oriented environment toward a common goal of quality applications delivered when the business needs them. IT managers benefit from the visibility that CIT provides into the development process, enabling them to make more informed decisions.

Organisations can begin to incorporate CIT by adding tools such as Compuware TestPartner and DevPartner to their existing application life-cycle environment.