BOX 2.8 New Testing Relationships Between Vendors and Customers
Today, testing is generally performed comparatively early in a product's life cycle, as an integral part of the development process, and is led by the supplier with input from, or even the active participation of, the users. The supplier openly shares test results with its customers, thus minimizing the need for customer-performed conformance testing.
Customers view suppliers favored in this way as strategic and often have risk-sharing financial relationships to maintain their interest, performance, and trust. Cooperative relationships often mean that suppliers understand customer needs better, time to market is shorter, and overall testing costs are lower. The disadvantage is that the customer may lose the additional level of assurance that a supplier product conforms to specifications.
Despite the power of a more cooperative testing position, this type of supplier responsibility has typically not extended yet to end-to-end performance of systems interoperating with many other systems from many other suppliers. Achieving and maintaining end-to-end interoperability are often still activities for the customer/user to manage.
An important corollary of having suppliers accept responsibility for the conformance of their systems to their customers' requirements is that this responsibility does not stop when a system is first fielded. Latent faults may not be discovered until new systems are later connected to this embedded system or the system is placed in some new environment. Suppliers practicing good quality management techniques accept the responsibility for later fixes to their systems. Their costs for performing this function either were allocated as an internal reserve of the original system purchase price or are recovered through customer-purchased "maintenance releases" of system improvements.