Four Steps to Rock-Solid e-Commerce

BrandPost By Brian Smith
Sep 08, 2015
Business ContinuityIT Leadership

To have it, you really need to check everything, every day

rock solid e commerece cio

Your website is the face of your business to your customers, yet the news is full of customer-impacting software glitches that seriously damage that relationship, hurt company revenues, or both! Let’s explain how you can avoid all of that, and keep your e-commerce sites functioning like they should.

The key is that any defects in your website’s business processes need to be detected early, before reaching the production environment and the customer. That’s not always easy, but there are four things you can do to get the job done. We call it “taking an outside-in approach” that begins with your customer experience.

Step 1: Focus on the end user. Understand exactly how customers are interacting with your website and its underlying enterprise applications. Then create business scenarios for testing purposes that reflect this actual usage. You’ll need a business-process-aware automation platform that enables this, and makes business process discovery and capture very efficient.

Step 2: Build an automation portfolio of end-to-end processes. Your consumer-facing website is not just one application! It’s more like the tip of an iceberg. You’ll need to ensure that your portfolio of test automation covers not just the entry application on your website, but also all back-end applications and their integrations. You’ll need to identify all business process variations as well, and make sure you build them into your automation plans so that you check them too.

Step 3: Test continuously. Having functional test automation in place allows you to run it on-demand as well as on a daily basis. This will let you uncover problems by proactively validating that your business processes work – and let you find problems before your customers do!

There’s only one way to ensure that every business function and all the underlying enterprise apps work like they should on your watch. Every one of them needs to be tested.

  • Check everything. How often? Well, the frequency of testing needs to match the rate of change and digital transformation in your enterprise landscape. The point is that business process validation needs to happen at the same frequency to keep pace. If not, you’re exposed and falling behind.
  • Test often enough. If new technology or updates to your website or its underlying applications are deployed monthly, you need to check all your interconnected business processes and enterprise apps monthly or better. But odds are, you’re deploying changes much more than that. If you have many technology projects, maybe it needs to be weekly. Some companies validate their core business processes Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. And if your enterprise relies heavily on hybrid cloud apps – where you don’t necessarily control the timing of changes (like – then maybe you need to perform daily validation.

When companies don’t match the rate of change with the rate of testing, that’s what often causes news-making business disruptions – as well as the many that don’t make the news. If firms shortcut functional testing, or worse, deploy changes without testing anything at all, there is enormous risk to business continuity.

Step 4: Scale using the cloud. If your customer-facing website is substantial, then you’ll need to run a lot of automation and distribute your automated testing across multiple machines to achieve scale and full coverage.

Automation makes it possible. Obviously, if you are validating hundreds of core business processes every day on virtual machines, or testing thousands of business process steps every night, it can’t be done manually. Those days are over. Today, automation platforms have replaced manual labor with digital labor when it comes to automated functional testing and business process validation. Sure, it’s an investment in new work practices and some new automation software, but that’s small compared to a major disruption in business continuity.

Some firms even use a public cloud infrastructure to spin up machines on demand and spin down when automated testing is complete. One large enterprise relies on 100+ Amazon servers to perform daily business process validation for web-administered programs serving more than 10 million consumers!

To some automation advocates, these solutions mean confidence and iron-clad business execution. Others think of it as insurance or a safety net for their business. But whatever you call it, there’s no better, cheaper way to ensure rock-solid e-Commerce.

For more info, please contact me or read our new whitepaper on the subject.