Presented by Tricentis

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.

Developers are fed up with archaic testing

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.”

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.”

Testing directly impacts business agility

For one final example, consider this account from Andy Walter, retired CIO of Procter and Gamble.

“A few years ago, I took over the project delivery for the company. Six months later, they told me that they’re going to sell 20 percent of the company — about 100 brands, including two major transactions.

The first was selling Duracell to Berkshire Hathaway. We’ve done lots of acquisition divestitures, but this one was a bit unusual because Berkshire had no systems. We had to set up a $5B company from scratch. This was a cool project — we designed a really modern, cloud-based infrastructure for the business. But eventually the game plan led to us asking, “Well, how are we going test to make sure everything works?” The answer was to do it by manually running the 40,000 test cases accumulated for the Duracell business. And then, without a chance to even breathe, we learned that we were selling a big chunk of the beauty business to Cody. There were over 100,000 manual test cases associated with that transaction.

At that point, we realized that manual testing was no longer sustainable. We, as IT, became the bottleneck for the company. We had to tell the rest of the business, ‘We can’t make any changes for you over the next 18 months because we’ve got to focus on these transactions.’

I think Continuous Testing is core to companies being able to dynamically evolve their structures, their M and A, joint ventures, all these types of areas. While we were doing the Cody divestiture, we started a covert project of ‘how are companies going to be structured in the future?’ And there’s no way you can satisfy the demands of digital transformation without DevOps, Continuous Testing, and the speed and agility they enable.”

Related Forrester research: Testing differentiates DevOps leaders from laggards

Want further evidence that transforming testing has become imperative for accelerating innovation? New Forrester research — What Separates DevOps + Agile Leaders from Laggards? — found that an organization’s approach to testing is a key differentiator between DevOps leaders and laggards.

After analyzing data collected from 603 global enterprise respondents responsible for their firms’ DevOps strategies, Forrester learned that firms with the most mature DevOps practices do several key things differently:

  • They are transforming software testing into Continuous Testing by adopting five core practices.
  • They focus primarily on contextual quality metrics (e.g., requirements coverage) while others focus on “counting” quality metrics (e.g., number of tests).
  • They are more likely to measure the user experience across an end-to-end transaction.
    while others rely on application-specific or team-specific metrics.

For detailed findings, as well as Forrester’s recommendations, download the complete Forrester DevOps Leaders vs Laggards report from the Tricentis web site.

Wayne Ariola is General Manager at Tricentis.

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