Most of my QA experience has been on the development side, testing software before it goes to the customer. I am now working for a company that is purchasing software. The software vendor is historically a mainframe software provider. The software we are purchasing is a PC-based three-tier application, and this is their first cut at a pc based product.
The vendor has been struggling with quality issues from the start. Builds will be provided to us that have supposedly been tested, yet when we install the software key components do not function. At the current rate, the estimated 3 year rollout will take 5+ years. My company has been hammering on the vendor to address their quality issues, thinking that we would induce them to make changes internally to improve their quality process. Instead, they proposed that we share the QA process with them.
Once I got over the shock of the idea of the vendor asking us to provide our time and expertise to help them test (I must add that they have not adjusted the cost of the software, even though this greatly adds to the demands on my test team) I began to ponder what impact this would make for my company, as the software consumer, legally. Specifically, if we consent to assist the vendor with their testing do we "lose" any legal recourse if the product turns out to be a piece of junk? Additionally, if we act as a part of the vendor's test team (testing on their system through remote access, helping them with their QA processes, etc) do we then become jointly liable in the event that another customer sues them for selling an unfit product?
Has anybody else been a part of an organization that has either asked paying customers to help test (beyond User Acceptance Testing) or been asked by vendors to help test?
Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons, for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup
I think as a purchaser one can do only acceptibility testing to either accept or reject the project. One can not train the vendor in quality aspects.
Alternatively the vendor can appoint a third party QA contractor to help him in improving the quality if that organization is not capable of doing so.