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Is your software testing strategy hurting your bottom line?


ravichandran_durairajan.jpgBy Ravichandran Durairajan


Ravichandran Durairajan is the worldwide practice lead for HP Testing as a Service.


Out of 20 years of applications services experience, I’ve spent more than 12 years setting up and managing testing practices (including delivering enterprise-to-enterprise software testing services). During that time I’ve watched enterprise applications grow more and more complex. Application development is undergoing significant transformations – we’re now in the age of RIAs (rich Internet applications), cloud apps and mobile apps – but application testing is not keeping up.


Why is this a problem? Application failure is a business failure. So when application development outpaces an organization’s testing capacity there are real bottom line consequences:


  • Failure in end-user apps can lose you customers and increase customer support costs, to say nothing of damaging your brand.
  • Productivity loss as a result of application performance issues may cost you $42,000 per hour for each user group impacted (according to Shunra).
  • According to the 2009 Chaos Report by the Standish Group, the success rate of IT projects was 32%.
  • Also reported by the Standish Group: American companies spend $84 billion annually on failed software projects and $138 billion on projects that significantly exceed time and budget estimates or have reduced functionality.

What can be done? Obviously, these complex applications need to be tested. But, especially with limited IT resources, testing can be seen as a cost center. The solution isn’t just to throw more money at testing. You need to test smarter.


The evolution of testing

Before Y2K there was basically no independent testing. But independent validation became important with Y2K, ushering in a new era. With Y2K organizations saw the value that independent testing could bring. Since then, organizations have integrated independent project-based testing as well as managed services into their environments. And the market is growing. By 2013, IDC/Nelson Hall estimates the worldwide testing market to be $37.6 billion.


But managed services testing has certain drawbacks: Vendor agreements lock you in to multiple-year contracts without service level agreements. Additionally, a managed services arrangement increases the workload on the customer who needs to train, manage and mentor the managed services people.


Testing as a service

There’s tremendous advantage to be gained from evolving your testing strategy to one that delivers more flexibility and value. Testing as a service (TaaS) answers a shift in customer demand for customized, ready to use, fixed-price work packages that include people, process and infrastructure. Specifically, TaaS can deliver:


  • Faster time to market (on-time delivery)
  • Consumption-based pricing
  • Flexibility
  • Higher defect detection
  • Lower risk
  • Service level agreements that deliver to required business outcomes
  • Ability to test what matters to the business

The benefits of TaaS can be profound. Take one example: performance testing. By nature, performance testing needs to be run on a near-production environment, and creating such an environment can be very expensive. But some reports suggest that utilization of that infrastructure is about just 20%.


To be assured your app will perform as expected in the real world, you need to test for thousands of concurrent users. But once the app stabilizes, the frequency of performance testing needs are significantly reduced. Because you’re not really leveraging that infrastructure to its full potential, you don’t get that ROI. However, if you use a cloud back end and combine it with SaaS and Taas offerings you can fulfill those short-term performance testing needs.


Three best practices

Whether you’re considering TaaS or are trying to create your own testing center of excellence, you can improve your testing strategy. Here are some best practices culled from HP’s Quality Methodology, which has been honed through years of experience helping customers improve their software testing:


  1. Focus on risk-based requirement-driven testing. Instead of testing everything end-to-end, focus on testing only what matters to the business. Look at the business criticality of what you’re testing. Ask yourself, how are my end-users going to use this and how many of them will there be? Assign a risk score – based on business risk – to everything you test, and use this to set your priorities for test design and execution.
  2. Find defects early. Change your testing practices to identify defects as early as possible, ideally at the requirements stage. Implementing the right test requirement management practice will avoid 80% or more of rework, as more than 50% of defects are introduced during the requirements phase. Finding defects early can yield significant reductions in the cost of software quality.
  3.  Provide visibility. You want to be able to easily get answers to the following questions: What are we testing? How much are we testing? What is the cost of these testing projects? What is the cost of the infrastructure, and what is our ROI?


Ultimately these are governance and visibility questions that the CIO or VP of Applications needs to address. Otherwise testing will slow down the pace of your application delivery.


To learn about HP software testing as a service, visit the HP TaaS website.


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About the Author


I have been a writer/editor in the technology field for several years.


Ravichandran: Great post.  Another reason is that Applications Security Testing is not given as much importance as it should be as I outline here:

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