One of the biggest challenges in the successful execution of a project is the planning phase. And whatever the industry — from supply chain to medical imaging — testing forms the backbone of this planning. Poor planning without testing as a proper consideration in its own right is a detriment of the entire project.
But what exactly is automated testing, and why is it so crucial? Andrew Knight views it as leveraging automation trends in order to maintain the highest possible standards of quality within software solutions.
There are three fundamental software testing categories: functional, performance, and experimental. Here, we’re interested in functional testing: Does the solution work correctly?
A functional testing strategy should focus on risk while striving for proper proportions. It should not focus on automating everything. This seems attractive, but not everything is able to be automated, nor would it be desirable if it were.
A viable strategy for organizations of all sizes across different industries — especially within the supply chain — is to maintain focus on package solutions and risk mitigation across core business functions. This naturally includes testing automation.
We’re All Software Companies Now
Why would a supply chain organization be responsible for testing, rather than the platform developer? After all, a supply chain company is not a software company.
The truth is that this organization is a software company — every company is. The building blocks are simply larger for those that aren’t explicitly software companies.
A focus on a particular piece of code, feature, or function is part of testing. But packaged and integrated enterprise software solutions created through a mesh of existing software applications also need testing. We all face the same challenges — we just solve them in different contexts, with different tools and expertise.
Zeroing in on Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) creates agility and enables enterprises to face supply chain fragility.
Being SaaS-ready leverages automation to satisfy and exceed demanding consumer expectations, framed by a rigorous testing environment, to deliver the highest quality solutions.
Miscommunication, software bugs, and misaligned expectations frequently appear in projects of all kinds. Functional testing is paramount to determine if a solution works correctly, with a simple, deterministic pass or fail metric.
Mutually agreed-upon results get a pass: The solution meets business requirements and user expectations while providing a good user experience.
So far, so good. But throwing current consumer expectations into the mix provides additional strain and pressure on a supply chain that’s already struggling to keep pace. Instant gratification via next- or even same-day delivery and a curated user experience are now industry-standard thanks to giants like Amazon.
Supply chain application development is increasing rapidly in order to keep up with this demand. Organizations must be more responsive, flexible, and proactive along the entire supply chain to deliver a better customer experience. Today’s consumer cares more about their experience than ever before: Delivering a bad one is not an option.
Along with functional testing, performance testing focuses on whether or not a solution works within desired system metrics. Experimental testing hones improved features and metrics after system changes.
The frequency of change and associated deployment rates for enterprise applications are increasing. The adoption of agile philosophies centered on rapidly changing critical business support systems is closely correlated with meeting consumer expectations.
The problem is that implementation of deployment practices supporting packaged software solutions has not matured at a rate that corresponds with the support for increasing deployment cycles. Cycle Labs’ customers usually upgrade enterprise solutions within a two- to-three-year minimum timespan — which can sometimes last five to seven years.
This disparity persists despite the fact that original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) of software solutions (which are major business drivers) produce incremental value in the form of hot fixes and upgrades on a bimonthly basis.
The result? A bottleneck in delivering value to the customer. True SaaS-readiness, industry cloud migrations, associated agile initiatives, DevOps, continuous integration, delivery, and testing are critical to ensure package software deployment teams deliver high-value, on-time solutions.
Retain the Edge
The pandemic exposed numerous challenges related to the global supply chain. In short, it’s not in a good state. But opportunities to reevaluate and fix some of these problems, including several core industry practices, were there all along.
Whenever a crisis hits, some business leaders are tempted to “get lean” and cut costs. Many organizations that deploy “just-in-time” inventory strategies now experience adverse effects. Processes that underpin agility simply aren’t in place.
Organizations need to make the right choices to avoid supply chain problems when the next inevitable crisis hits. But what are they?
There isn’t one single answer. Promising strategies include reintroducing slack into supply chains and eliminating rigidity while remaining lean. Even if the road to recovery isn’t straight. The need for supply chain flexibility is clearer than ever.
Testing automation is at the very heart of these agile initiatives. Organizations built on such practices that have the ability to flex — to ultimately accelerate change — will not just survive, but thrive.
Industries that deploy software solutions are tied together by a confluence of recent events and factors. This moment in time leads them in a common direction and underscores the importance of high-quality automated testing solutions.