At its core, DevOps represents a philosophy of collaboration and shared responsibilities for software development and quality. To achieve a successful DevOps deployment in practice, most organizations recognize that the process is the most critical component to realizing impactful change.
That is not to say other ingredients in this recipe are not vitally important. Reflecting on an earlier post of mine following interviews with Hiscox, Prologis, and LVMH about why testing for the People — the people we test for and the people who do the work to make sure applications deliver — is the foundation for which Agile was built upon.
When it comes to the coordination of tasks or responsibilities for full software development lifecycle within a business framework, setting up a defined process for cohesion between teams, feedback loops, and expectations is inevitable. We establish this process to avoid repetitive tasks, reduce complexity, minimize downtime between teams, and ensure delivery of complex projects with quality in mind.
Football Association — Modern performance testing helps the FA make a successful transition to the cloud
The Football Association has been on a strategic journey to move legacy on-premises applications to the cloud. Their systems under test include high-profile, public-facing websites and systems that span 120 applications at any given time, including managing stadiums, players, leagues, and ticketing for sporting events and concerts. After all, they are the second-most recognized brand in England, after the Queen herself.
“We are moving to the Azure cloud. We are looking to add capacity and rewrite most of our systems so they are fast, slick, and become the heart of the Football Association. We need our stakeholders to be able to access technology very easily and very quickly,” says Nick Sewell, Head of Application Development.
The drive to achieve this came after the previous system showed its inability to scale with the needs of the organization and its fans. Examples of this included an untimely website crash with the announcement of the Senior England Squad; and delays in sport league registration across the country to support a grassroots effort to grow the love of football. Many started to lack confidence in the delivery of technology from the organization due to poor previous experiences.
The process started by getting stakeholders onboard. “We got the business involved — they didn’t want a repeat of the old system. From day one, they supplied us with non-functional requirements and discussed what the expectations were, including SLA’s we needed to adhere to in production.”
The team started by putting together six workflow solutions and pushing data into the system with 250 users. This ensured tests and workflows were right before starting to scale for real-life application. Once this process to capture the data was proven, they were able to distribute it to the business in a presentable format.
Over the last 12 months, the team worked on a significant project for systems that applied this process to the point of consistency. Performance testing was run once per week in the development system, starting with 250 users and gradually scaling to over 4,000. “Over our journey, we have noticed it’s not only the functionality, but the environment we need to work with as well,” says Nick. At approximately 1,000 users, the team started to see functional errors that needed to be addressed.
“This tool [NeoLoad] and the process around it has allowed us to introduce performance testing and do it in parallel of functional testing without impacting the other. By building it up, it allows you to improve the efficiency of the script you are using that creates the data and actually run the tests and produce the results. We can turn around the tests very quickly, make some changes to either the Azure environment configuration or code changes — homing in on very specific functionality that was a bottleneck. This allowed us to step through key scenarios, measure against every single one, and publish to the business. They can see what has been done, the results, and this has increased the level of confidence,” says Nick.
Up next, the Football Association is looking to integrate performance testing into their DevOps pipeline process — automating the promotion of code through each of the environments alongside the functional tests.
Norfolk Southern — Planning for operational excellence
“Anything that has no sustainability will fail.” David Jayaraman, Implementation and Delivery Manager at Norfolk Southern, shared this advice with us during his twenty-minute session. If you don’t build something sustainable that addresses the pain points of the people within the organization, you will see a drop in quality.
David goes on to explain how you must evaluate and understand any organization before you can hope to improve it. Transformation is often a 180-degree shift, and what may have worked for you in the past most likely will not work now. “One size fits all does not always work; each organization is different. You cannot go into an approach or implementation without having a top-down approach. Without this, you will suffer.”
Collecting pain points of the organization, at all levels, is a critical first step. Some pain points can easily be solved by your transformation efforts. This is where process change lays the foundation for change. David explains why it is critical to evaluate what is working currently, implement changes in stages, and track your success along the way.
“Continuous improvement is critical to maintain quality. If you do not consistently look to improve what you are doing, others will find the gaps.” As organizations grow and scale, new pain points will arise. We cannot simply rely on “what worked in the past will continue to work in the future.” Processes and systems should continuously be evaluated and measured.
David suggests vendors can often play a role in helping to continuously improve process, as they understand best practices and are consistently looking into which trends are coming to enhance the R&D of their products. “When you have a vendor working with you in the testing journey, they can provide guidance for the long run,” says David.
David continued his industry thought leadership with my teammate Emma Peet on Transformation in 10 – available now on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.
Nuvolo — Leveraging Tricentis to deliver their test automation needs
Nuvolo has been awarded ServiceNow’s America’s Global App Development Partner of the Year award for three years running. Scaling solutions to serve their more than 1,600 customers globally – with custom code and weekly deployments on over 26 applications – was no easy task.
“We have to be up to speed at all times. We cannot delay the release because of testing. We needed something to automate testing, reduce the number of hours and days we spend on regression, compatibility testing, and the different ServiceNow versions,” says Khaled Award, VP of QA and Release at Nuvolo.
Leadership at Nuvolo knew test automation was the only path forward to maintain both the speed and quality expected by their customers. Nuvolo is, after all, the leader in SaaS CMMS application and facility management. However, traditional test automation tools they had tried in the past struggled to work with customized UI pages developed on the ServiceNow platform.
Khaled explains, “We needed someone who understood the ServiceNow platform. Building our applications and our products for our roadmap required a partnership. We needed customer support, detailed release notes. and more upgrades on our automation solution to help us move forward.”
Today, Nuvolo is “building with clicks not code” with Tricentis’s TTA solution. Their process for automation has scaled to 17 of their 26 solutions for monthly releases, and integrates seamlessly into their DevOps toolset for continuous deployment. Watch their session on-demand to see a diagram of the proven process that allowed them to reduce regression testing from two to three weeks down to four days.
Telstra — An enterprise digital transformation journey for Salesforce
It’s often said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. For any transformation journey, that first step is recognizing the need to change.
Telstra recognized the testing issues that needed to be addressed early on in their journey:
- Manual execution required too much time and effort, particularly for end-to-end scenarios of tracking data across systems
- Complex IT landscape with systems based on different technologies
- Continuous deployments meant testing couldn’t be bogged down with test maintenance, particularly as it related to critical Salesforce releases
- Object identification and iFrames were difficult to manage
- Critical integrations with systems such as DocuSign were difficult to automate comprehensively and needed to be tested multiple times per day
With issues clearly documented and an internal process already in place, the next logical step was to identify the solution to address their existing pain points. Telstra landed on Tricentis test automation, particularly its Salesforce scan technology, which would improve efficiency of setup and speed to value. Tricentis was dropped into their current process. It was quickly used to automate everything that is visible, and increase regression testing for disparate systems and end to end testing.
Telstra is now delivering its vision: To simplify and digitize offers to customers through an efficient and cost-effective delivery organization that runs lean and agile to continually improve customer experience.