Transforming Paradigms - From Quality Assurance to Business Assurance
Author: Srinivas Kamadi, AVP - Group Practice Engagement Manager.
Today's digital landscape is riddled with disruptive forces that are transforming business models and industries alike. The proliferation of social channels and continuous creation of big data is fuelling this transformation and heating up global competition. Forces such as Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud (SMAC) and the Internet of Things (IoT) are now critical to delivering omni-channel experiences. These digital imperatives guide how businesses engage with their customers, employees and stakeholders. Customers demand 24/7 connectivity and free flowing information accessibility. This has made it contingent upon companies to deliver superior customer experience in an agile fashion.
However, the adoption of new technologies creates new vulnerabilities for information technology (IT) systems. Most of these vulnerabilities such as network performance, security or cloud service availability are often not within the direct control of the organization. Companies are waking up to the pressing realization that, as their IT systems become more vulnerable, there is need for greater focus on quality assurance (QA) and testing functions.
Research indicates that the share of new development projects now accounts for over half of the testing budget (52%) of which 40% is allocated to big data and analytics, 27% to cloud and 17% to mobile. The Worldwide discrete (standalone) enterprise application testing services market was USD 16.7 billion in 2013 and is growing 15% annually to reach a projected USD 33.7 billion in 20181 . This indicates that the rise in the proportion of corporate IT spend on QA and testing is linked to the growing importance of application quality for business outcomes.
Need for a Robust Testing Frameworks
The onset of digital is changing the role of Chief Information Officers (CIO), who are no longer expected to merely deliver software that supports business functions. Today's CIOs share the onus for business outcomes and help proactively shape the strategy of their organizations. A CIO is expected to be innovative, partner closely with other business functions and implement the roadmap of how software can assist business to deliver superior customer experiences, resulting in customer intimacy, retention and acquisition.
CIOs across industries want better alignment with business priorities such as faster time to market, enhanced service levels and optimized expenditure. Further, as expectations from QA evolve, there is a growing need to position testing as a partner service rather than relegating it to rudimentary quality checks. Traditionally, the business value of testing services was evaluated in terms of cost optimization. Today, it is crucial for testing to transform business value articulation frameworks and showcase value delivered to the business.
Challenges in merging testing with QA
There is an implicit expectation by consumers, employees and other stakeholders for responsive, device agnostic, 24X7 accessible software applications that provide superior functionalities and value. The increasing penetration of social channels creates a minimal tolerance environment wherein failure, error or outage culminates in an instant reprimand. Businesses have become acutely aware of how a poor user experience can lead to a negative review on social media, instantly causing irreparable damage to the brand image.
Such a service-driven digital landscape adds pressure on testing organizations to transform and accelerate their operations. One of the biggest challenges here is the speed of testing, particularly for mobile businesses. The need to successfully deliver a greater volume of business critical projects has never been higher.
Driving the change
Companies that maintain their edge in such a digital landscape adopt some key methods that ensure testing departments contribute to business functions. Some of these methods are:
- Adapt quality models to fit latest technologies of the digital era - Digital and the adoption of cutting edge technologies have changed expectations from testing functions. Testing requires a holistic viewpoint of all dimensions of consumer experience. Thus, to meet customer expectations, testing resources require strong testing skills as well as a deep understanding of the business and the industry domain. Leaders should foster close communication between QA departments and testing resources to internalize testing requirements completely.
- Maintain laser-sharp focus on omni-channel experience testing - Leaders focus their omni-channel application test strategies on the subtleties of consumer experience design. Utmost importance should be given to the dimensions of performance, ease of navigation and functionality.
- Create faster testing solutions for agile projects - Testing needs to keep pace with application delivery in agile development environments.
- Merge automation with test-driven development - Pioneers are automating test scripts in the earlier phases of the software development lifecycle (SDLC) by employing quality services before the user interface (UI) is formalized. They also deploy service virtualization to test before the services become available. Further, they automate build verification scripts and test environment set-up processes to minimize downtime.
- Increase deployment of cloud for test environments - Leading companies are setting up a cloud and virtualization strategy for their test environments. The number of offerings available for building cloud-based and virtualized environments is rapidly expanding. However, CIOs need to be cautious as all types of systems are not well-suited to virtualization or cloud migration.
Evolving from quality assurance to business assurance
Quality assurance is poised to help businesses harness richer customer experience and deliver superior relationships. Organizations seeking to implement a robust testing and QA framework should consider the following factors to ensure they achieve higher business value:
- QA methodologies and tools need to cater to digital/ Testing as a Service (TaaS)/ mobile testing. Virtualization of network, services and testing in the cloud are key elements for businesses to consider and invest in.
- Applications have become more fluid and are delivered faster, requiring leaner development and testing. Agile is set to take more precedence than before, implying the need for relevant competencies and centralized capabilities.
- There is need for more non-traditional automation and DevOps for faster and organized release to production and to bridge the gap between development teams and operations.
- With the increase in overall testing spend, businesses need to invest more in tools adoption.
- Since security testing is still a nascent field, companies can invest in proper enterprise IT security governance frameworks and conduct more testing in this space.
- Investments in skills and tools as well as change management are crucial elements in winning the testing battle.
- With the commoditization of testing, organizations need to invest in creative cost-efficient TaaS models, agile service-based and output-driven models. They also need cross-shared and cross-skilled resources versus legacy, traditional waterfall processes, dedicated resources, and restrictive licensing models.
Infosys IVS Offerings
Currently, software is not used to merely run a business. Instead it drives the relationship between the business and its customers. With increasing evidence about the business benefits of QA on business goals such as service differentiation, churn or cost reduction, organizations are becoming more aware of the need for optimized QA functions. QA is set to become a crucial parameter to judge CIO performance and is making its way onto the agenda of business level discussions. Whether CIOs are overseeing a DevOps aligned test team, performance testing their latest mobile application or rolling out a new cloud application, business assurance matters now more than ever.
Infosys Independent Validation Services (IVS) caters to market imperatives with a vision to be the best QA partner by bringing innovation and business value to everything we do. IVS focuses on comprehensive business assurance supporting enterprise-wide digitization, orchestrating ecosystems, ensuring risk mitigation and compliance, and enabling man-machine intuitions. To achieve this, IVS has a core team focusing on NextGen QA services focusing on the consumer, enterprise and ecosystem. Our objective is to enable organizations to shift focus from pure play testing to complete quality. The result is agility, availability and automation of the ecosystem that businesses need to succeed.
1. World quality report 2014-15