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New Age of Testing - The WHAT, WHY and HOW?

Author: Mahesh Venkataraman, Associate Vice President, Independent Validation Services.

While testing has always been important to IT, the last decade has seen it emerge as a discipline in its own right. Hundreds of tools have been developed and deployed, commercially as well as 'openly'. New methodologies have been formulated to test the latest business and technology transformations. IT organizations today recognize testing as a critical function that assures the readiness of a system to go live (or a product to be released to the market).

So, with all this innovation in the recent past, has testing reached the pinnacle of perfection - to the point that no further innovation is possible? Is there nothing further that we can do for testing to add even more value to business? These are important questions.

The development of humankind has its root in questions. Status quo is first questioned, pondered over and then options explored to answer those questions. The result, frequently, is innovation. There are three powerful questions that trigger human motivation to innovate, according to the author Simon O. Sinek. These are: WHY, WHAT and HOW.
If we run these three powerful questions through our current understanding of testing, exciting new possibilities emerge! Let us examine these one by one:
The new WHY, WHAT and HOW of testing
The conventional answer from a testing practitioner to the question WHY would typically be 'to find defects'. If we further ask 'why', it leads us to the top three enterprise value themes, namely, IT speed, IT availability and total cost of ownership. These are the parameters that a typical CIO values and probably loses sleep over. If testing is to add more value to business, it must address these three key themes. 
Now WHAT kind of testing is required to address the WHYs above? To look for answers, let us explore the new testing imperatives in the context of recent business and technology developments:
• Testing for new business imperatives - Assurance for the digital enterprise; risk and regulatory compliance assurance are some key examples.
• Testing for new technology imperatives - As new technologies such as Cloud, Big Data, analytics and mobility become more pervasive, they also expose the enterprise to business vulnerabilities due to functional, non-functional and interface failures. Assuring such technology transformations from the testing perspective is a huge opportunity.
• Testing for new industry imperatives - As the competition adds on more and more business processes and new customer touch points get implemented in IT, there is a critical need to uncover potential risks before the system goes live.
The next logical question is HOW to test all of the above imperatives. This can be done in the following ways:
• New delivery platforms - With a plethora of tools available in the commercial and open source domains, there is a need to integrate all the lifecycle automation tools into a common platform that can enable seamless interplay of these tools along with workflow automation.
• New methodologies - These can include new testing methodologies to support Agile development, increased use of statistical techniques in testing, etc.
• New capabilities - With tighter integration of the testing and development cycles, testers will need to build skills and capabilities in programming and rapid automation. They also need to develop a high degree of awareness of system architecture to provide early and ongoing feedback in line with the Agile culture.
• New technologies - New technologies like service virtualization need to be deployed in the Agile environment. Techniques such analytics-driven testing and machine learning can be deployed to model and predict defects early in the cycle. 
The innovation framework for testing outlined above around WHY, WHAT and HOW is just the starting point. To bring about change at project level we all need to put our heads together and work out the details. The BICEP framework attempts to enable exactly that. Do ponder over these questions in the context of your project and let us all drive innovation to help our customers win! 
All the best!

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