Founder & CEO,
QA InfoTech (QAIT) is a leading Independent Software Quality Assurance and Testing Company which specialises in providing independent, unbiased services to Fortune 500 companies.
Mukesh Sharma, in conversation with digital LEARNING, provides insights into the work being done by QA Infotech in this field.
Can you tell us something about vision of your company? Please highlight your role in the Education Sector.
We are a leading and independent Software Quality Assurance and Testing Company. The idea is to provide testing and quality assurance services to the e-learning and the online education sector. We started in 2003 and the first product that we tested in India was essentially for libraries and online databases. In this kind of testing, we were trying to ensure that the users who utilise the search engines get the right and relevant data that they are looking for from the online archives and information portals. This is what we had started with and we have grown in. So far we have been working with e-learning companies and publishing houses like Pearson; companies providing software in e-learning, including Adobe systems, are also some of the customers that we are serving.
What are your strategies regarding online education? Can you reflect on opportunities in field of testing for professionals?
As a testing company, our strategy in online education is to assist companies providing online education to provide quality content in education. There are enormous opportunities in this field for a test professional. If we compare a programmer and a tester, we will find that the scope of growth for a tester is far greater than that of a programmer. The kind of knowledge that a test engineer has is much more expansive since he has to understand the functioning of the whole system, while as a programmer, the focus is on a specific component of the product. As a tester you are not just working towards making a product, but also are on a look out for problems from diverse customer perspectives, and trying to address it.
What are the specialised software solutions that makes you company different from the other players in the Indian market?
As an independent quality assurance and testing company, the primary advantage that we have in the testing field is our knowledge domain and expertise. By testing, we imply that we are not just looking at the input and the output. It is also about being able to understand the customer interests and needs and the kind of customers that the product is going to serve. Essentially as a tester, we are responsible for the quality of software and also to serve as a quality gatekeeper before the product is released. The value that we add to quality assurance comes from our domain expertise in e-learning; the kind of tools that we use for testing, i.e., from open source and off the shelf tools created from test automation framework and processes; and performance testing.
Are there any Research Projects your company is involved in? Can you share some details of the same?
The research projects that we carry out are basically in the testing field. We have created something called ‘Distributed Intelligent Automated Test Harness’. The idea is to cater to a wide range of customer needs. Usually when a product is launched, 80% of the customers might be happy with the product. The rest of the 20% customer base who may have complaints are either those using old machines or those with high end equipments networked into highly sophisticated and complex systems. These customer requirements also need to be taken into account.
Therefore, testing not only involves checking the functionality of a particular product on single user material but checking the same on multiple browsers and operating systems.
Through our research projects, we are making it possible for software testing engineers to be able to click on just one test, run all these tests on the products and crosscheck the configurations. We are not creating a product but primarily creating a framework where these kind of services can be given to the customers.
Would you like to throw some light on the partnerships you have with Private players? Do you think Public Private Partnership is useful in current scenario of education?
Public Private Partnerships are very crucial and collaborations is going to be the key for the growth and success of this sector. A lot of content companies and publishers exist today. However, some of the publishers have absolutely no online presence. Publishing companies need to tie up with online content providing companies to deliver the content online.
In the era of globalisation, we are looking for major partnerships in India and China. In India, with its distinctive feature of several regional languages, localised content can be provided in all these dialects. Infact, making this content online is something that has a huge potential and can be tapped into.
Can you give us some details about your security and performance testing methodologies?
SABA is an enterprise learning management system which is used in companies whereas MOODLE and SAKAI are used in educational institutions. We do majority of our testing on institutional LMSs. There are a lot of companies in the US that have made their content online through their respective LMS, but the challenge to educational institutions is to use the content through individual LMSs of different publishers. To put it practically, for a student who is using 12 different books from 4 different publishers, it means that the student will have to use 4 separate online content and remember 4 user passwords which becomes challenging. Tools like Learning Management Integrated Platform have come into existence where these publishers integrate their e-content for the benefit of the user.
We are not just manual testers. There was a perception in the industry that testers are the ones who cannot do programming, but such is not the case. Testers are the ones who understand the customer’s needs and relate it to the products. That is how we add more value to the testing sector. A lot of planning goes in performance testing.
In security testing, a number of things need to be taken into account. How would the application behave when a lot of information has been stored in it? Security testing involves finding ways and means to prevent hacking.
Presently, what according to you are the challenges being faced by education sector with regard to content quality?
The lack of a systematic testing procedure and awareness, even while India is witnessing tremendous growth in online education, is a major challenge. A lot still needs to be done in terms of standardisation and collaboration. Several content related products are being released in the market, which have not necessarily been tested, resulting in a situation where the customers are not sure if they are buying the right merchandise. The government can play a facilitating role here. There has to be a Public-Private-Partnership wherein the government approves and empanels the testing companies. These companies will then be in a position to test products, give certification, and only then can the product be released in the market. This arrangement will ensure quality assurance for the customer.
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