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By Wayne Ariola
We’re well past software “eating the world.” Software has become irreversibly intertwined with the world. You can’t find a modern enterprise that doesn’t depend on software, or a business transaction that doesn’t require software at some point in the end-to-end process. In the new world of digital business, companies who deliver differentiating customer/user experiences through software have the clear competitive advantage. Those who cannot are living on borrowed time.
In response, every CIO is now focused on digital transformation initiatives that ensure the company is disrupting, not disrupted. From an IT perspective, this requires faster delivery of innovative software and greater agility—the ability to pivot as soon as you identify a new opportunity or challenge. From a quality perspective, it requires a strategic commitment to continuous quality and a deep-seated transformation across people, processes, and technology. Recently, both Gartner and Clark Golestani (retired CIO of Merck) weighed in on this topic. Here are a few takeaways from each perspective.
Gartner: “Application leaders guiding a digital transformation initiative must make continuous quality the technical, organizational and cultural foundation of their strategy.”
Legacy QA Approaches Don’t Suit Digital Transformation Objectives
“Many organizations are on a journey with DevOps, practicing continuous development and continuous deployment, yet a continuous approach to quality is often missing. A holistic view of quality is uncommon, with QA processes primarily addressing a limited set of functional requirements. While this ensures that the software meets some basic functional quality goals, it is not sufficient to satisfy the quality expectations of the users, the business or the market. The growing pervasiveness of mobile, web, cloud and social computing scenarios has raised end users’ expectations for application quality. The notion of what constitutes superior quality has become much broader and includes overall user experience, quality of service (QoS), availability and performance, as well as security and privacy. It is no longer sufficient that the application just works. It must provide an optimized experience that leaves the user wanting to engage more and interact again.”
Quality is Essential for DevOps Maturity
“The ability to consistently deliver business value with high quality has become critical for organizations seeking to mature their DevOps processes. Based on Gartner’s 2019 DevOps Survey, ensuring the quality of solutions is among the top 3 challenges encountered during the adoption of DevOps.”
Clark Golestani: “Any IT leader concerned about innovation speed and digital transformation success should make software testing a top concern.”
Legacy Testing Approaches Hold Back Innovation
“With digital becoming part of every aspect of activity, brand, and reputation for a business, software testing has become vital. Yet, in this digital age, the amount of manual effort that goes into testing is incredible. I don’t think any business process is as manual as software testing. The hands-on nature of software testing—even at software companies—is simply amazing. I have more automation in my coffee maker than most enterprises have in their testing processes. This is not only expensive; it also holds back innovation.
When you modernize testing for your digital initiatives, testing is elevated from being a line item on your P&L to something that’s strategically critical going forward. By transforming testing, you can actually bridge the gaps in bimodal/two-speed IT—dramatically accelerating the ‘slower’ speed and enabling the entire organization to move much faster.”
Rethink Testing Today—Or Your Lunch Will Be Eaten Tomorrow
Begin by digging into how testing is done by your organization now—especially if it is outsourced, because it may not work as well as you think. You’ll probably find that a big change is needed.
The leadership team will need to champion that change from the top-down, inside the organization. But understand that the change management involved won’t just be about people and processes, but also about technology. You need to employ the best technology in order to drive higher automation levels and gain the outcomes you seek. Also, be sure that your test automation initiatives include legacy systems (e.g., SAP) as well as the shiny new customer-facing applications. You can get equally as big an impact from both.
The bottom line is that if you don’t treat testing as a strategic initiative that’s imperative to your digital success, your lunch is going to get eaten by your competitors. I don’t think any leader can afford to take their eye off software testing.