This article, authored by Wayne Ariola, was originally published on DevOps.com.
We’re well past software “eating the world.” According to Tricentis CEO Sandeep Johri, 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.
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.
When Johri talks to CIOs about how their digital transformation is progressing, the same basic story always emerges: Organizations transform Dev and Ops, but then testing cannot keep pace…and they get stuck. The testing 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.
Many companies have already recognized this—and they’ve galvanized their digital transformation initiatives by modernizing their testing. By re-examining and re-inventing software testing across their organization, they went beyond removing the “testing bottleneck”—they’re also driving the positive user experiences that can now make or break a business.
Many of these distinguished quality leaders joined thousands of software testing professionals from around the world at Accelerate 2018 in Vienna, Austria. This year, the conference theme was “Digital Transformation Requires Continuous Testing.” To ensure that the conference thoroughly covered both the digital transformation and continuous testing sides of that topic—as well as the core intersection between them—we invited CIOs as well as quality leaders to share their perspectives. Here are some of the key insights that are most pertinent for executives leading digital transformation initiatives.
Archaic Testing Approaches Can Cause a ‘Brain Drain’
Merck sought out top development talent to advance their digital transformation initiatives. When those developers started quitting, (now retired) 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.”
Agile, DevOps, Cloud and Testing are Inextricably Linked
Agile, DevOps, cloud and testing transformation are all interlinked as part of a broader digital transformation. Andy Sturrock, CIO of one of the world’s largest energy companies, stated: “All of these things are self-reinforcing. You certainly don’t get the full benefit of one without doing the rest.”
He explained the Ops team used to be the primary bottleneck to moving applications to production (just getting servers provisioned could take weeks or months). Now, the cloud relieves that bottleneck—and that places a lot more pressure on the “apps” team, which tends to emerge as the new bottleneck. “You can write code as fast as you want, but if you can’t test it, you’re not going to get into production quickly,” he said. “Testing has to become automated, and the role of the tester must evolve.”
When Software Runs Your Business, Software Testing Becomes a Business Issue
According to Golestani, nearly $1 billion US in revenue passes through Merck’s SAP instance each week. Consider that this instance is updated at least four times a year, and more than a thousand changes are made each time. Manual testing is simply not an option. No amount of manual testing can thoroughly de-risk the core business processes, given the frequency of updates, scope of changes and breadth of functionality that’s impacted. Extreme test automation is the only way to achieve the required business risk coverage with the necessary speed.
Due to the nature of Merck’s business, lives also are at stake. Merck ships billions of medicines and hundreds of millions of vaccines each day. The company’s continued focus on digitizing the business means that software runs everything from the shop floor to the way that they interface with customers and educate 4 million healthcare practitioners. As Golestani explained, “When the software driving all this fails, nothing ships, manufacturing shuts down, research shuts down … and people die.”
It’s Not Easy, but Transforming Enterprise Testing Pays Off—Significantly
Global 2000 organizations that want to implement continuous testing—the extreme test automation required for DevOps—need to overcome challenges such as:
- Highly complex application architectures (e.g., processes that cross browsers + APIs + mobile + SAP + other packaged apps + custom Java/.NET apps + mainframes).
- Different application types, planning cycles, development methodologies and tools existing in parallel.
- Deeply ingrained quality processes across different groups and projects.
- Scarce test automation resources.
- “Bloated” test suites that delay the process while providing limited business value.
There is no silver bullet. Transformations take time and they must involve all of the people, processes and technologies associated with your application delivery pipeline.
Nevertheless, you can rest assured that your efforts will pay off. Consider just a few examples of how organizations that committed to transforming testing are now growing the business and enhancing the customer/user experience:
- Duke Energy achieved a $9 million cost savings during the first year of its testing transformation—and it also reduced testing time by ~ 85 percent. This enables the company to more rapidly deliver software that transforms the customer experience, modernizes its energy grid and creates a smarter energy future.
- SPAR accelerated time to market 3X, enabling the company to expand its online presence across Europe, deliver more customized shopping experiences and provide seamless “omnichannel” experiences across the customer journey.
- EdgeVerve now releases 30 percent more new functionality in cycles that are 60 percent shorter with 50 percent fewer escaped defects. This enables the company to help its global banking clients onboard, sell, service and engage customers with flawless personalized experiences.
- ExxonMobil saved $140 million in cost avoidance and increased productivity 3X. This enables the company’s IT department to take on more projects and complete them faster—which in turn helps the company boost sales and increase customer loyalty.
- Vantiv (now Worldpay) transitioned from eight-week testing cycles to daily testing, which has been critical for enabling rapid growth and agility during the recent Vantiv-Worldpay merger.
Continuous testing was once just an aspiration. Now, the drive toward digital transformation has made continuous testing a business imperative. Organizations such as these are paving the path forward, demonstrating that continuous testing can—and must—become a reality in enterprise organizations.