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Testing will save you money and time and resource.

There, I’ve said it. It’s something we say a lot here at Scapa Technologies. We would do, as testing is our business. And yet, I don’t say it only because that’s what we do. I say it because I’ve seen it, I’ve experienced it…a lot! About 20 years’ worth of experience, to be precise. That’s not blind faith, it’s reality and it’s what happens in the vast majority of project engagements I’ve been involved in. (NOTE: In those projects that have not saved money, it’s been because testing was not prioritized and was only instigated once things had started to go wrong.)

“Frugalnomics” and the decision to “do nothing”.

Times are hard, budgets are being scythed and your business needs you to spend wisely. And yet the business world and the world of IT do not stand still. They move together to meet new challenges. Systems need to be upgraded, new systems and new ideas implemented – quickly, before the competition gets ahead. We’re talking about business-critical systems that you and your customers depend upon to communicate with one another and keep the revenue flowing in. Often these are complex, multi-dimensional, spread over multiple locations, multiple offices with many access methods (remote, client/server etc.). Are these systems always well-behaved? In my experience they are not (see some examples here). Do you know why your systems misbehave and what is causing the underlying performance issues? What do you do to try to understand what’s going on? Do you do nothing or do you just throw another box into the mix as a cure-all?

Why change?

Most of us find change – particularly in the workplace –quite a challenge. There may be processes in place that are outdated, difficult to surmount and, frankly, not at all beneficial to your business. So, to go from a scenario of rolling out new applications, upgrades or other such regular system changes on our trusty systems without making time for testing, to introducing testing as a new and critical part to this process, would mean some upheaval and additional costs, surely? Well, in terms of your internal processes, it’s hard for me to comment, other than to say you need to ensure these are not holding your business back. With regard to costs, there’s the initial software license payment and training (unless you engage some consulting services and benefit from 20 years of expertise, if you catch my meaning?) but the alternative seems to me to be an incredibly high-risk strategy, particularly for the types of business-critical systems we tend to work with (e.g. customer-facing, revenue-generating systems that are used in and are the mainstay of call centres, retailing etc..). The questions you should be asking are:

  • Do I know how my systems will behave when I upgrade application ‘x’ or migrate them over to environment ‘y’? How do I avoid extending release cycles, missing delivery schedules and increasing rework costs? How can I keep upgrade project costs within budget and on target?
  • Is it possible to guarantee optimum system performance and to avoid capacity and continuity risks? Will throwing another box into the environment achieve the desired effect (i.e. improved, stable, reliable performance and user experience)? What will the end user experience be from all locations and from all desktops (as I know a sample of end user experience will not identify potential problems)?
  • Which specific systems environment would suit my business model best? How can I ensure that our systems help maximize profit, ROI and improve competitiveness? How will migration from traditional to remote or virtual desktops affect service levels?

In the end, the key question is, does your business play fast and free with its IT budgets? We would all want to answer “no” to that question and yet, all things considered, without having answers to the questions above – i.e. without testing! – that’s precisely what is happening, in my view. I’ll say it again, testing will save you money and time and resource!

So, what is your preferred strategy? And what would your customers think of it? Are your customers’ loyalty and continued support worth gambling over? I think not.