Week 3 into my expedition on TheICEway and one thing really stands out for me - the number of businesses who go ahead and change their mission critical environments without adequate or independent testing.
Now, like many of us, I consider myself a bit of a risk taker and undoubtedly there remains a certain frisson to doing a hard power down on the home PC when the latest Windows 10 update seems to drag on forever.
However, no matter the outcome, life goes on and no economic fallout ensues. Conversely, we know in business an un-researched and untested action can invoke unintended consequences. A business that cannot deliver service to its customers in a timely fashion may not survive too long.
In the digital age, disruptive technology breaks down previously impervious barriers for new competitors to emerge - however that’s not to say it’s our own technology that should instigate the disruption! With such high stakes to play for, it’s essential all businesses look to implement a competent test regime for all IT projects - large and small.
Such a test regime can provide a number of escape routes should the project not reach its desired outcome. It may be as simple as the ability for the operating system patch to be rolled back to a known stable release or your software application’s major version release can be put through its paces in a controlled sandpit environment.
Taken together, the experiences learnt along the testing journey will identify the stumbling blocks and maybe even on occasion deliver a number of streamlined shortcuts within the business flow.
Who Should Do The Testing?
If you’re already on-board with the inherent benefit of testing, then the next question is who should undertake the testing? Traditionally it’s been a binary choice – either the business itself or the software vendor.
Both choices have their drawbacks- the typical end-user is not trained for software testing and quite often their natural desired outcome is for the software to simply clone its predecessor’s functionality. If the user’s initial experience of testing is negative, then this can have an enduring effect on their confidence in the software and the underlying data.
So you have the option of employing your own in- house test team which is fine as long as it's large enough to handle the peak testing times, but then what happens during the quiet times? Dedicated in house testing teams can become an expensive and inefficient choice.
Instead, we can use the software vendor to do the testing and in some cases this can work. However, we must recognize that while the latest version of the software may indeed be well coded and functional, this can still fall a country mile short of the business need.
What About A Third Way?
It’s increasingly a fact that business software applications operating in isolation cannot drive value and their integration capability with other applications is at least as important as their innate functionality.
High up the list of criteria would be three essentials. Namely system environment knowledge, technical expertise and vendor independence. Taken together, these individual attributes deliver a rounded view of the business and its’ mission critical day-to-day operations.
The technical expertise creates the relevant testing environment and where necessary, develops the integration with other applications. Vendor independence ensures that as the business needs and software application functions diverge, your IT system provider can, without fear or favour, recommend the best package for your contemporary and future needs.
Here at theICEway we deliver vendor independent Consultancy, Managed Services, Hosted Services and Testing Services to scores of customers. With in-depth knowledge of our customers’ IT environments and business drivers, delivering project scoping and testing becomes second nature to us.