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The business side of SOA testing processes

Are there ways that the business people, as opposed to the IT people within a company, can be more helpful in the SOA testing process?

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Yes. The business models and designs that the business processes, perhaps using BPM solution, and IT can then take the process and execute it on top of the SOA, perhaps using BPEL. There you can see that SOA's flexibility can introduce significant complexity. That transition and mapping is not always straight forward, so a collaboration between IT and the business needs to take place in order to adapt the processes to more easily map the the existing IT infrastructure.

Testing takes place on the executable processes that run on top of the IT services or a subset of them, so a variety of use case scenarios can manifest themselves in the runtime process and which are not easily visible in the abstract process model. So business analysts define what the "units" of work are supposed to be doing but also what the "units" of work should not be doing, by addressing the proper process behavior under exceptional conditions. Also in verifying that the use case scenario tests address the most critical business scenarios, because at the end it may not be possible to explicitly test all possible scenarios and paths through a process, but addressing the most critical ones from a business value or impact perspective provides an ideal prioritization from a quality management perspective.

Also keep in mind that the business people still own and holistically understand the business domain knowledge. In BPM (and SOA depending on application) this domain knowledge is crucial for promoting true quality and productivity. It is important to understand that even the best mapped and defined business process still cannot replace the domain expertise of the business person who owns the process.

This was first published in August 2008

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