Mercury Adds Business Process Testing To Software Quality Suite

The new tool, called Mercury Business Process Testing, is now available as part of the Mercury Quality Center suite, said Mark Sarbiewski, senior director of products at Mercury Interactive, Mountain View, Calif. Quality Center is Mercury's offering for testing and managing the quality of enterprise applications and ranges in price from about $10,000 to millions of dollars, depending on the size of the customer implementation.

Business Process Testing allows business developers to create tests ensuring an application's business processes are behaving according to business requirements as the application is being developed rather than after it has already been built, Sarbiewski said. Currently, most testing is done when the development of an application already is complete, he said.

"Eighty percent of apps are made to go live without a lot of testing," Sarbiewski said. The new tool "allows people who know how the applications are being built for the business to play a direct role in quality assurance. They're writing the test based on what they need. This allows [them] to do the kind of rigorous, complete testing you need to do on an ongoing basis."

Indeed, leading testing tools vendors such as Mercury, IBM Rational and Compuware have been developing tools that gives testing higher prominence in the application lifecycle so it is not so much an afterthought as something that is done concurrent with application development, said Melinda-Carol Ballou, senior research analyst at Meta Group.

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This trend stems from the need for organizations with tight IT budgets to identify application defects sooner rather than later to save money, she said. "The sooner you fix something the less expensive it is to fix it," Ballou said.

Mercury and other testing software vendors also are closing the gap between the business needs of an application and the testing done to ensure the application is behaving according to those needs, she added. This will make the overall application development process more efficient and enable developers to build better applications.

"Typically, business staff are not as cognizant of quality assurance functionality and processes," Ballou said. "Any product that enables better coordination of quality assurance with key business imperatives will improve the relevance and effectiveness of applications overall."

To make it easy for business analysts without development or quality assurance testing skills to use Business Process Testing, Mercury has built the tool with a drag-and-drop interface that will be familiar to them, Sarbiewski said.

"All the technical stuff is abstracted away," he said. "They know the business steps and the data [an application should have]. In the process of pulling that together, they can create a test."

As part of the release of the new tool, Mercury also has teamed with ISV partners to build solution acceleration kits so Business Process Testing works seamlessly with popular packaged applications, such as those from Oracle, SAP, Siebel and PeopleSoft. The first of those kits for Oracle Applications 11i already is available, with others to follow.

Mercury also works closely with both global and regional system integrators, which both resell and provide testing and quality assurance services using Quality Center, Sarbiewski said. Currently, about 30 percent to 35 percent of Mercury's business goes through the channel.

A group of about 10 key systems integrator partners, including Accenture, had early access to Business Process Testing, he said. Mercury now is making training available to the rest of its partner community so they will be up to speed on Quality Center's new component.