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Automated Software Testing SPAR

Digital Transformation

How SPAR is Using Service Virtualization and Test Automation to Ride the “Digital Tsunami”

SPAR ICS is the dynamic IT service partner of the SPAR Austria group (SPAR, Hervis and SES). SPAR ICS provides solutions for 7.000 users in 3.000 locations with state of the art technology, systems and processes.

Everyone has heard that “every company is now a software company” more times than they wish by now. However, with Amazon’s rapidly-expanding role in the grocery retail market, companies such as SPAR are not only transforming into software companies—they are also directly competing with software giants that deploy new code to production on a daily basis.

“Most IT leaders are talking about digital transformation, but SPAR is facing a digital tsunami.” Andreas Kranabitl, Managing Director, SPAR ICS

SPAR has already successfully surfed an initial wave of digital transformation that involved digitizing their existing brick and mortar business for the online era. Now, the oncoming digital tsunami presents opportunities to build new revenue streams and personalized customer experiences that increase both loyalty and euros spent. For example:

  • Online expansion through new online food shops across key regions of Austria as well as complete relaunches of the online Non-Food shop and Wine shop.
  • Regional expansion through new online food shops in Slovenia and Hungary.
  • Customized digital experi­ence that today’s consum­ers now expect, such as personalized new product alerts, recipe recommen­dations, reorder remind­ers, and sales campaigns.
  • Seamless omnichannel experiences, such as easy home delivery of items combined with payment & return options at home or in store.

To capitalize on such opportunities, SPAR’s IT department (SPAR ICS) needs to deliver more (and more advanced) innovations to the market faster than competitors—and with a better user experience than competitors. Obviously, this requires transforming the development process towards Continuous Delivery. However, many organizations initially overlook that if you transform development without also transforming testing, you don’t actually accelerate the delivery of innovative features. You simply move the bottleneck from one location to another.

The SPAR ICS Quality Assurance group already recognizes that their existing quality processes and tools were not architected for the speed and scope of IT innovation expected in the very near future. They are taking this opportunity to re-envision not only their tools and processes, but also the mission of the group itself. Their high-level goal is to make testing a strategic advantage—much like Formula 1 pit stops have evolved from a necessary evil that caused delays, and into a strategic activity for enabling the continued performance/reliability required to win the race.

From a technical perspective, a number of challenges need to be tackled to ensure that the team enables, rather than impedes, accelerated innovation. The top 3 challenges are:

  • Increasing system complexity: Common business transactions involve an e-commerce web shop that interacts with SAP, which in turn interacts with a variety of applications such as inventory systems, warehouse management systems, logistic platforms, delivery systems, payment terminals, and so on. Configuring all the associated systems for a single test typically requires a tremendous level and variety of technical expertise—not to mention realistic test data, which commonly takes weeks to obtain.
  • Limited access to test environments: For a test to successfully complete, all of the involved systems must be available for testing at a single time. This is rarely feasible for one-off manual tests. It is unlikely to be feasible for the continuously-executed tests that would be part of a standard Continuous Delivery process.
  • Reliance on manual testing by high-value resources: Currently, business analysts are tasked with performing testing in addition to their other business-critical duties. This is a slow, mundane process that not only delays testing, but also detracts them from more value-added tasks that cannot be automated.

To overcome these challenges, SPAR ICS is working with Tricentis. The ultimate goal is to transform SPAR’s quality process to ensure the rapid release of new functionality that drives revenue and increases customer loyalty.

Initial steps towards achieving this goal include test automation and simulated test environments.  Test automation enables anyone in SPAR ICS to rapidly define and execute automated “end-to-end” tests that validate whether core paths through the application deliver the expected end user experience.  Simulated test environments allow testers to execute tests whenever needed, as often as needed.

Matthias Wienerroither, Teamleader Quality Assurance, will be providing a first-hand account of this transformation journey at Accelerate, the largest Continuous Testing conference in Europe. Join us to hear their story and learn:

  • How they’re measuring success, and what they’ve been able to achieve so far
  • Lessons learned and advice for others embarking on a similar journey
  • Their strategies for scaling test automation and service virtualization—as well as introducing risk-based testing