Two friends team up to seek and destroy software/app bugs, writes Balqis Lim
WHEN Kamil Khaidir Roslan and Faizal Fazlil Ilahi receive requests from companies that want to launch a new app or online service but are not sure if there are bugs or flaws in the system, they will engage their team of crowd testers from around the world to test and locate the possible bugs and flaws in the system/app and fix the problem before it is released to the public.
Calling themselves bug detectives, the duo go deep into computer systems to look for bugs and eliminate them before they cause problems.
Computer “bugs” used to mean bugs that get into a device and short-out the switches which damage components.
Nowadays, bugs usually mean errors, flaws, failure or fault in a computer program or software and applications that cause it to produce unexpected results or behave in unintended ways.
However, the number of experts to test software and applications are very limited, even for large companies.
Realising this, Kamil and Faizal decided to form a service platform to provide software and applications testing for desktops, mobile devices and other electronic gadgets.
The platform, called Bugs Detective (www.bugsdetective.com) uses crowdsourced testing as its business module.
The duo, who have a combined experience of 20 years, say they started this due to the lack of such services, especially for mobile devices.
HOW IT STARTED
Kamil and Faizal met when they were working for British Telecommunications Plc five years ago.
Although they left the company a few years later, they always kept in touch.
Kamil met up with Faizal in August last year to discuss his idea. They started the company soon after.
Kamil says they wanted to help enterprises find a better way to test their apps or software at reduced cost.
Crowd testing, he says, is the practice of sending out software and products to broad groups of people for testing rather than testing them internally.
“It is different from traditional testing methods; crowd testing is carried out by a number of independent individuals and not by hired consultants.
“As it allows more participation of individuals who are experts in their fields, this method usually results in faster and better testing quality.
“It is also cost-effective as the testers will be paid by projects, unlike those hired by companies who are paid monthly,” says Kamil, adding that crowd testing is popular in countries such as the US.
Today, Bugs Detective has over 40 testers under its platform from not only Malaysia but the Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia, Dubai, the US, Belgium and Egypt.
Kamil adds that all testers are required to undergo mock assessments before they can join Bugs Detective.
Meanwhile, Faizal says awareness in Malaysia is still low.
“Most businesses may not know if the software or apps they are selling contain bugs or not.
“Bugs Detective provides businesses a new way of testing their software and apps.”
Faizal says they start by finding out the needs of clients before coming up with a specific testing plan.
“We will shortlist testers based on their specialty before forwarding the project to them.
“Once the testing is done, we will send the report to clients for further action.”
If testers manage to locate the bugs or complete the project on time, it will increase their chances of getting other projects.
Faizal says most of the complaints they receive are about mobile applications.
“In this era, all business and interactions happen on smartphones. But some businesses usually wait until something happens. For example, if a retail online store is having a sale, its website will get heavy traffic which can cause it to crash.
“Just think about the losses incurred if customers cannot perform transactions. The company’s reputation will also be tarnished due to the online backlash,” says Faizal.
Kamil says businesses need to change their perception and do proper testing first before releasing or launching their websites, software and apps.
He says most of the time, a company will be hired to develop an app for these enterprises.
“As testing is also done by the same company, which basically involves only the coding part and almost always done in the office, the outcome may not reflect real-life usage.
“Field testing is important. For example, a driving app needs to be tested on the road, while a farming app needs to be tested on a farm.
“They should also look at the bigger picture. When they launch the app, complications may arise and it will be too late to contain the damage. The cost to repair is more than doing it before the app is launched,” says Kamil.
He says Bugs Detective aims to revolutionise testing in Malaysia and be a leading player in Southeast Asia.
“When I conducted a training in Indonesia seven years ago, there was no national body to oversee the testing industry there, unlike our Malaysian Software Testing Board.
“They even asked me to help start the community there. Now, their testing community is more active than ours,” he says.
Besides looking to expand the team, Bugs Detective is also working with an accelerator partner, namely Watch Tower and Friends under the Khazanah Nasional Entrepreneurship Outreach (KNEO) Programme.
They were part of a group of 30 finalists filtered down from a pool of nearly a thousand applicants in the programme.
“We received some funds to mobilise our startup business and are now preparing for the last stage of KNEO, which is the Demo Day in May.
“If selected as one of the top three finalists, we will receive additional funds from Khazanah.”
Kamil says they also plan to hold a “testers meetup” once a month when more players come on board with the aim of improving the testing community in Malaysia.