There is no such thing as an error-free system
Irrespective of the company size, the most important thing before entering the market is to bring the system development to perfection. However, in many cases, the testing phase is left out or if not left out, is not absolutely efficient. By involving exernal quality management, it is ensured that the mechanisms of software operation are reviewed by a professional team and by doing so, much time and energy can be saved in the peak period before the release. TrustChain Platform is tested by the team of MerkIT Consulting Ltd.. We talked about the process and the company’s operation and story with the CEO, Zsombor Szendrey.
When did you first think of establishing MerkIT?
Previously I gained experience as a tester in Profession’s team. I first met Gergely Romhány. the first CEO of MerkIT in September 2015. By that time he already had extensive experience in the industry and we both saw that there were still huge opportunities in the field of testing and a number of gaps, too.
When we started, well, one can say that at many companies not even the need for testing in IT projects appeared on the scene. In October we started to think about building the company and it was the time when a business angel joined us to invest in MerkIT. This is how we started to operate as a testing company in autumn 2016.
Multinational corporations have already realized the significance of testing. What is your experience in the case of SME-s?
Smaller enterprises still need some education to see when and where testing needs to be applied in the course of system development, what are its advantages and which tasks and burdens can be taken off thanks to it.
We can step in at any phase of the development and support it.
Testing is worth being integrated already in the planning phase but in many cases we are rather asked to participate in a bigger testing in the case of bigger releases or before handing over the development.
By the way it is often realized that there is a need for testing when the project is in a delay and it becomes clear that this work shouldn’t be done by the developers. This is our time. We work with different methodology and attitude and after some time companies are unable to treat their own developments without prejudices. We, however, can, so the two processes can be linked together in an effective way.
How do you at MerkIT think of software development?
We treat the software development we support like it was our own development, and we would like to ensure that it can enter the market in the best quality possible. We follow this attitude in each and every case and we expect all of our employees to do the same.
There is no such thing as an error-free system, it is almost impossible to create one, especially in the case of bigger systems. For us the most important goal is to improve the user experience and identify the main errors, which would significantly deteriorate the quality of the product.
Which are the most typical software errors you face?
Even small things can result in serious problems. A lot depends on the communication between different modules and inappropriate data processing happens also pretty often.
We pay a lot of attention to the question of dynamic vs static character as well as the fact whether the project is about a finished product or one which is continuously being developed and extended with new functions.
The error ratio of 1-5 % may be considered acceptable. Banks, who are our key customers currently, specify very precisely what they want but in the case of smaller companies with less experience even the scope can be a question. They often expect us to fulfill the position of a business analyst. It often comes to light at the very beginning that SME-s would like to have more and something different from the scope of the agreement. Of course we try to solve these issues as well, but it is indeed much more of a challenge if the client is not aware of what they require exactly.
In the case of companies, where the product is developed by more subcontractors, our client is in contact with the developers and another way of communication is needed, it may take a bit more time to find the common methodology.
How much does testing cost ideally as compared to the costs of development?
We usually say that the minimum cost is 10% but it may rise up to as much as 50%. When we join a project, first we need to understand what it is about but it can also happen that this initial specification is not complete. We need a specialist to help us to understand the operation of the given product/service as much as possible. We take over more complex systems in cc. one month, while in the case of smaller and more user-friendly projects even a few days can be enough for us to accommodate.
How is the MerkIT testing performed?
We either work remotely or we allocate our employees, we provide either manual or automated testing service with the help of our employees, depending on the customer’s needs. Following the first learning period test cases are written for all elements, and functions and later we run these tests and report on them. After eliminating the errors, the next step is re-testing. When the full test is done, in course of which no more errors are identified, from our side the system is working.
Do you often hear it that “can you do also this and that ASAP”?
Fortunately we have good testers, so we can finish everything until the deadline. Communication challenges may occur nevertheless, in most of the cases it is not the testing result that needs to be waited for.
Young vs. experienced testers?
After 3 years, now we can say that all of our testers work with confidence in this practical environment. The perspective of junior testers is a huge advantage. Our experience is that the younger an employee, the more typical that they are self-educated which is shown in their attitude as well.
We like working with junior employees, with them it is still possible to lay down the foundations of corporate culture and we can effectively have an influence on their attitude to testing.
In the field of testing, there is a chance of burn-out, fluctuation is bigger, which we try to reduce, which is positive for the companies too at the end of the day, since they obviously prefer working with a stable team.
When did you step into the testing of TrustChain Platform?
Since the two companies are connected personally, we were continuously following how development is proceeding, along which specifications and functions the system is evolving but we effectively stepped in only in the last project phase. Since the IT development of the Platform is provided by a third party, Tappointment Ltd., we considered it important to have daily stand-ups. Dr. András Vándor, head of product development coordinates the cooperation among the three corporations and this is how we can achieve the smoothest work and communication possible with all parties.
How big is the team at the moment?
In the beginning we had 2 testers, and now we have 20 employees allocated to different banks, multinational corporations and development companies in manual tester, test manager and test automation engineer positions. This year 4 more employees joined us, and by the end of the year we would like to have employed another 4 persons. It was in 2018 when Balázs Kiss Customer relationship manager joined us and I took over the CEO tasks from Gergely.
What does an ideal project look like from the tester’s side?
We like longer term projects that can be planned easily, and we consider communication a key factor. We like to allocate more people to one project so that it is easier to follow the guidelines evolved.
We find it important that the product under testing is treated by everyone as if it was their own product, our testers want to understand the operation of the system, so that it can enter the market in a perfect form. Our testers are aware of the fact that their work adds a lot to the quality of the finished product.
We consider ourselves partners of the developers. We stand on the same side.
Professional trainings are essential in this field.
When hiring a junior employee, first he participates in an internal training program – of 1-3 months depending on his qualification – , including both theory and practice. Then the experience of real projects comes next and finally an external training providing internationally accepted certificate (ISTQB). By the way, we use the testing of TrustChain Platform for training, as well.
What other projects are you engaged in apart from TrustChain?
We are mainly engaged in banking projects, now it seems like the biggest market demand is in this segment, but we are also getting into contact with more and more small enterprises. In general, 8-12 projects are running at the same time. We are specialized in manual and automated testing, and test management also and we would like to build all of these branches. Our closest goal is to develop the branch of test management.