CIOs share why software testing matters

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Once “below the radar,” software testing has emerged as a focal point for innovation and speed.

Rapidly delivering innovative software has shifted from a technical challenge into a business imperative. Today's businesses know that they can’t gain or retain a competitive edge unless they consistently deliver market-leading software innovations faster than their competitors. This is the force that’s escalated development movements such as Agile and DevOps into digital transformation initiatives on the boardroom agenda.

Even though “software testing” is consistently cited as the top obstacle to accelerating software delivery, few organisations have addressed testing as part of their digital transformation strategy. However, that’s starting to change. A select group of CIOs have recognised that reinventing testing is essential for achieving the speed and agility required to thrive in the digital future. And those who have already gone after this “low hanging” fruit can attest to how transforming software testing accelerates innovation while improving cost efficiency and reducing business risks.

In this article, CIOs from a broad array of industries share why software testing matters to them—and why it should matter to any IT leader looking to take their organisation to the next level.

Testing directly impacts business agility

Andy Walter (Procter and Gamble)

"In 2013, I took over the project delivery for the company. Six months later, they told me that they’re going to sell 20 per cent 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 realised 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 going to be 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.

The project leaders used to wear those 40,000 to 100,000 manual test cases as a badge of honour. But you need to change that culture because you need to remain agile.  There's no company that's too large to be disrupted. And both the pace and scale of disruption are increasing rapidly.”

DevOps enables innovation…but testing can hold it back

Jennifer Sepull (USAA, Kimberly Clark, American Honda)

“I think the beauty of creating a DevOps model is that you have a powerful team that is empowered to really connect with the consumer. When those teams come together in that powerful way, and they own the entire end-to-end process, there's opportunities for innovation. Application development and testing are absolutely critical to making sure that those innovations, or that connection with the consumer, can happen.

However, you can’t continue testing manually, the way that it always had been done, when you have an enterprise that’s moving at the speed of light. As a CIO, you do not want to be the bottleneck that's slowing everything down. This means that you have to address testing and ensure it advances your digital transformation initiatives rather than holds them back.” 

Testing is pivotal for accelerating digital business

Robert Webb (Etihad)

“As a CIO, what I’m doing across Etihad and our equity partner airlines is trying to accelerate innovation. That really means everything we’re doing with online and mobile, and all the rapid application and agile development we need to do is the most differentiating part of our application portfolio.

I know that software testers can make the CIO’s survival rate higher—but they can make the company more profitable, make it safer, and help it grow faster. If they make your testing faster and get your new apps out there, you can be more competitive. And if they can do that while lowering costs, that’s remarkable.

Transforming testing is pivotal for accelerating how software is digitising the business.”

Testing is critical for an exceptional customer experience

Vittorio Cretella (Mars)

“In the past, there was the cushion in between IT and the consumer. But, now we are dealing directly with IT and dealing directly with the consumer, which places IT in a very strategic position in the company. We have to really understand how the user is reacting and how to achieve this optimal customer experience.

To accomplish this, we need constant deployment. But we also have to ensure that deploying functionality daily or hourly always improves the user experience. We can’t risk disrupting it—so this is where Continuous Testing comes in. A year ago, I thought testing was boring. Now, I can tell you that testing is truly strategic.”

Testing is strategic—and a critical component of digital transformation

Andreas Kranabitl (SPAR ICS)

“Testing really came onto our radar when the business started to go online, enabling online shopping. The main challenge was speed. There was a constant demand to implement state-of-the-art online customer requirements, so we started deploying functionality on a daily basis.

Now I really understand how strategic testing is and how important it is within a continuous delivery environment. Before, in a classical waterfall model, testing was something deferred until the end of the project. It was completed by the business people or by some IT people, and it was not really of interest at the C-level. But, now I think testing is really strategic. It helps you save money as well as save time. The sooner you start to do testing, the more efficient and effective it becomes.

I believe that the most important element in digital transformation is people. We cannot have people spending their time on software testing tasks that can and should be automated. There is much higher-level work to do. We need future-oriented staff, and we can’t afford to make them suffer by asking them to do needless manual testing.”

Speed, quality, cost - quality @ Speed is Supreme

Erwin Logt (FrieslandCampina)

“All CIOs face tremendous pressure to speed up innovation and continuously reduce time to value. Of course, there’s always a desire to improve cost efficiency, but allowing quality to slip is never an option. As a matter of fact, the expectation is that quality increases even as time to market decreases. Testing is key for balancing these demands without making tradeoffs.”

Wayne Ariola, CMO, Tricentis
Image source: Shutterstock/niroworld