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Contributed Articles

Testing: Your Secret Weapon for DevOps Success

This article, authored by Sandeep Johri, was originally published on DevOps.com

I spend virtually all day, every day, speaking with IT leaders who recognize that their bottom line ultimately rests on their ability to accelerate the delivery of innovative software. That’s why they’ve invested so much in digital transformation initiatives—including hiring the best and brightest developers, scaling Agile, driving DevOps adoption, automating the Continuous Delivery pipeline, and all the other components involved in moving from ideation to delivery as rapidly as possible.

In most cases, this investment has exposed opportunities to optimize culture, process, and tooling…but not yet delivered the level of acceleration and flexibility that IT leaders expect. I’m frequently asked: Now what? I think we’re “doing” DevOps. But what else is needed to deliver on faster innovation?

Something as unsexy as “transform testing” is not what people expect to hear. As someone who’s been in the software testing industry since 2003, I know that software testing is typically seen as a necessary evil, not a strategic advantage. However, I’ve also witnessed how it can be a secret weapon for surging ahead of the competition.  

The dirty little secret in the IT industry is that despite all the advancements in software development, software testing remains dominated by yesterday’s ALM tools and Manual testing —and they simply don’t meet the needs of today’s accelerated development processes. Transforming testing for the modern era represents a tremendous opportunity. It’s a low-hanging fruit that can help you increase acceleration, reduce risk, and cut costs.

Boost Acceleration

Agile and DevOps initiatives aim to accelerate the process of delivering working software to the end user. However, even organizations who have adopted Agile and DevOps report dismal test automation rates: less than 20% for end-to-end testing. This means that after the rest of your software delivery pipeline is automated and optimized, an outdated testing process eventually emerges as the bottleneck. By transforming testing, you can increase your throughput significantly. I’ve witnessed many companies increase time to market by 55% by modernizing their testing process. 

Reduce Risk

Now that software is the primary interface to the business, a software failure is a business failure. Yet, with today’s compressed and continuous delivery cycles, it’s simply impossible to test everything before every release—even if testing is automated. By aligning testing with your top business risks, you can automatically assess the overall impact to the core user experience and instantly determine if the release candidate has an acceptable level of business risk. This is critical for stopping high-risk software from impacting your prospects, customers, and partners.

Companies still relying on traditional quality processes and platforms are usually covering only about 10% of their top business risks with their current test suite. A goal of 80% is typically achievable with about 3 months of effort.

Cut Testing Costs

There are hard costs associated with trying to retrofit outdated testing processes and tools into modern delivery processes. Many organizations try to bridge the testing gap by throwing an abundance of manual testers at the problem…typically through a global system integrator. By the most recent estimates, this approach consumes approximately 35% of an average IT budget—a total of $30+ billion per year, globally.

A way to help testers achieve high test automation rates allows you to reallocate a large portion of that testing spend towards creative tasks which advance competitive differentiation. Many enterprises that transitioned manual testers into “scriptless” (non-technical) test automation have slashed testing costs—and eliminated one of the most significant constraints to achieving faster time to market.