Contributed Articles

Archaic Testing Slows Innovation and Causes a Brain Drain

This article was originally published on Venture Beat

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 that deliver differentiating customer/user experiences through software have the clear competitive advantage. Those that 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.

Everyone agrees that this is a priority. Developers are producing software faster than ever before, and Ops can now deliver applications in a matter of seconds. So, what’s holding us back? Testing.

The same basic story always emerges: Organizations transform Dev and Ops, but then testing cannot keep pace … and they get stuck. The tools and processes architected for traditional months-long release schedules simply don’t fit modern delivery cadences, which require immediate quality feedback with each new build. It’s a sad but simple fact: If you have a slow testing process standing between highly accelerated development and operations processes, there’s just no way that you can achieve the desired delivery speed

Consider the example of Merck. Merck sought out top development talent to advance their digital transformation initiatives. When those developers started quitting, Merck CIO Clark Golestani wanted to know why. He learned that the No. 1 reason for these developers leaving the company was the company’s testing practices. Developers were “fed up” because the company was still using traditional testing practices within Agile development processes — and developers believed it was undermining their hard work and dedication.

That’s the precise moment that Merck launched its testing transformation. Ultimately, the testing organization changed the way testing was done, dramatically reducing attrition and enabling faster delivery with superior levels of quality. According to Golestani: “If it weren’t for the testing organization driving that change, they would have been an inhibitor. We would have never been able to release the types of products we do, and the technology would never work the way that it needs to. It’s absolutely essential.”