QA, QC & Testing

Inoperability

Many products and services have to operate with other products and services during their life of operation. Interoperability testing involves testing products and services against each other, as typical of their use. Interoperability testing can help determine issues that can be rectified

Most large commercial airplane manufacturers build their planes without any engines. The engines are chosen by the airline and the final part of the jigsaw involves connecting the engines to the plane. The engines are designed and built by specialist jet engine manufacturers such as Rolls Royce, General Electric and Pratt & Whitney.

As part of the interoperability testing the engines have to be able to work with the airplane in question. Hence if Boeing is building a 747 then an appropriately powered engine is required that can not only produce enough thrust to achieve flight but can also communicate with the 747's management systems.

Interoperability testing is done to check whether a product works with other products.

Pirate radio stations are the boon of the regulatory authorities because they can cause havoc with emergency air frequencies. Prior to a new radio station gaining a broadcast license, interoperability testing between the frequency allocated for the station and other frequencies is undertaken.

The last thing the authorities would want to do, is to allocate frequencies that stop emergency service's signals. Leaving the police, ambulance and fire brigade without communications.

Usability

Is the product usable? Organisations don't want to spend millions developing products that are not usable by their customers. As the customers will simply elect not to buy their products.

Usability testing is not the same as market research, which mainly focuses on how attractive the product is to a customer and how memorable the product logo was with the customer.

Usability testing is purely concerned with how easy to use a product is. The best way to test usability of a product is to give the product to ordinary people to use. These are people who are most likely to buy the particular product under test.

Consider a food manufacturer decides to cash in on the growing ready meal market by developing their own quick cook ready meals. However, for the customer to make the ready meals several steps are involved, which need to be done correctly and hence take time to do.

In terms of usability the ready meals have failed as the customer was required to undergo several steps which were not only tedious, but could affect the quality of the finished ready meals, if they were not adhered to properly.

In the end customers would be put off by the tedium of making this ready meal and as a result sales would have been affected.

Usability testing determines whether the product is easy to use.

Flat pack furniture is another bane of usability. Many items assembly instructions are poorly thought out and the time taken to assemble the items, leaves the customer frustrated. Ideally a usability test can be used to determine whether an item can be assembled quickly by a novice.

Video/DVD remote controls that require a science degree just to operate are another area of usability that requires thorough testing. Especially as the 'grey' generation is increasing in population and by making products and services that the elder generations find difficult to use, simply makes it more difficult to sell to that sector of the population.

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