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Fix your testing now; or fix a much larger problem later

I used to own an old house (like built in 1896 old). I will always have a place in my heart for it because it is where I raised my three children, but I also think about all the things that annoyed me about having an old house. There was always something to fix – the furnace, pipes, electrical connections—you name it. Did I fix all these issues before they became an emergency? No. My budget was limited; the bigger couch, the family-sized TV and the custom fridge seemed to offer more immediate joys. I prioritized aesthetics over the longer-term benefit of investing in better infrastructure. Can’t the same be said about the state of testing? We know we need to increase investment in it, but increased investments are not coming anytime soon. (Any investments will go into the beautiful front-end digital design--pushing the worry about the quality later—when it maybe becomes an emergency.)

So, the investments to fix testing needs have to come in the form of evolved methodologies, principles and low-cost and/or open source tools. In the first chapter of this blog series, I talked about how (some) organizations will use the current downturn in business to reconstitute their testing organizations. Now let’s take a look at some of the imperatives – rather, make that mandates – that the modern-day test organization is now facing.

Kicking the can down the road—for 25 years.

We have had the last 25 years to “fix” testing, but there simply has never been the right focus or prioritization on it. We seem content – or maybe resigned – to the fact that we are going to continue to lose sleep and accelerate the graying of our hair (for those of us that still have it) by following the same antiquated testing methods. The circular wheel was created to serve as potter's wheels around 3500 B.C. in Mesopotamia—300 years before someone figured out to use them for chariots. Do we really need to wait another 275 years before we recognize, and start to adopt in earnest, there is a much better way to do testing? It is right there in front of us – now is the time to strap those wheels onto our testing chariots.

Past 25 years –can really be considered as the renaissance of software development—but with no similar renaissance for testing. We began to transition from the era of mainframe (although there is still more of this than anyone would like to admit) to the age of client-server, to distributed computing, to whatever we are calling where we are today (read: the coolest, most sophisticated software ever is being written on a daily basis). Throughout all these major shifts, we have barely evolved how we ensure the quality (and speed of development) of that software. Though I still talk to too many organizations that have the true desire to do “doing testing better”, but lack the will to commit to the investments in tool, process and change management. They are hesitant to wage the battle (maybe not true battles, but healthy debates) with their development organization to make a necessary change to quality engineering.

The time is now.

Given what I have just said, why do I think we may be at an inflection point? Because I don’t think organizations have the option, nor the luxury, of ignoring it any longer. It is well established that the current disruption is unprecedented in the history of our lives and that it may take some industries up to three years to fully recover, and even then, what will they recover to? Some will never get back to the volume and scale at which they once operated because their industries will have fundamentally altered. All the while, technological changes will only be accelerating. Most organizations will return to some level of scale—but they will be operating in a new competitive landscape and options for speed, efficiency and optimization are going to be limited. Consider this a rallying cry to finally address – and attack – one of the last remaining sources of cost leakage, inefficiency and constraints on speed due to antiquated testing practices.

Fixing the house.

There was already tremendous pressure on the testing organization; mostly to complete its test cycles so the software could get out the door and we are now compounding those previous expectations with all of the back pressure from the COVID-19 downturn. Some imperatives to consider:

  • Has the digital imperative ever been more evident than it is today? Old and average testing techniques are not going to get it done. Testing, and better put, the principles of quality engineering need to be established, right away.
  • We must move beyond standardization of test processes, tools and governance. The organizations that are continuing to expend time and resources on these “table stakes” need to get these in place quickly and move to the next level
  • Acceleration of cost savings. The spend on quality is a black hole for most. We think of it in terms of what we are spending on the resources who are doing the testing. The mandate going forward will be to finally get our arms around the cost of (poor) quality and start to eliminate the major contributors and offenders.
  • Adoption of cloud. The acceleration of cloud and SaaS-based models is only going to increase. The testing organization needs to get off its backfoot and recognize the paradigm shift that is in front of them. They will need to optimize for how they test in the cloud and applications on the cloud.
  • Testing MUST drive digital agility (defining ‘agility’ in the most expanded sense of the word)

Let’s not miss this moment.

I am reminded of a quote from one of the greatest movies ever made – Ferris Bueller’s Day Off in my humble opinion (if you haven’t seen it--we give you full permission to stop reading this now and press play) Ferris turns to camera and says “life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop to look around once in a while, you could miss it.” This can also be said of our current world of testing and to all of us trying to keep the moving forward while maintaining the status quo. We are living in an increasingly digital world – it is moving really fast and if you don’t stop to recognize it, you are going to miss it.

You are just a call (or email) away from a fix with our Quality Engineering Jumpstart offering. Let’s get you on the right track – the track that puts you ahead of the game in anticipation of your organizations rebound and recovery into this new normal.

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About the Author

Chris Manuel
AVP & GTM Global Head – Quality Engineering

At Mindtree, Chris leads a team with one objective - design and implement meaningful DevOps & Quality Engineering solutions that help our clients realize development quality at a speed that matches the demands of their business.

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