The Evolution of Software Testing: Why Prioritizing Quality Can Lead to Business Success

Software is now at the forefront of most companies’ strategies — even in traditional industries like financial services, energy and retail. Software’s place in the enterprise has extended beyond traditional systems of record to become a revenue driver and the preferred tool for building customer relationships.

Today, our cars are connected to networks, our smartphones can control the temperature in our homes, our shoes tell us how far we walked and home consoles read us the headlines and the weather. Companies that capitalize on consumers’ engagement preferences with software-driven business models will have the opportunity to develop new ways to connect with customers, be more proactive with sales and service opportunities and create new revenue streams.

Every business is now in the software business, and the ones that embrace that fact will shape the future of our world.

Release Cycles Are Shrinking

Nearly three quarters of enterprises have built, customized or virtualized a mobile app within the last year, according to a recent Gartner survey. To meet consumer expectations and capitalize on new market opportunities, businesses must be nimble enough to rapidly evolve the software they release, all while maintaining the highest levels of quality. Data from the Apple App Store shows release cycles are shrinking — 84 percent of the top 200 free apps on the Apple App Store had been updated within the last month, a July 2017 review shows. The median time between updates was just 18 days.

To ensure high-quality releases at such a rapid pace, companies are devoting an increasing percentage of their IT budget to quality-related activities. According to the 2017 World Quality Report, testing costs will make up a full 32 percent of the entire IT budget by 2020. Additionally, enterprises report high rates of adoption for agile and DevOps methodologies to help bring new software to life.

The banking industry is a perfect example of this shift, with major players like Chase, BBVA and Capital One setting the tone. All of these players have been able to develop and maintain highly regarded apps, thanks in large part to their reliance on agile development methodologies, which promote the integration of testing into the software development lifecycle.

The shift to agile has helped these banks as well as other non-traditional players develop, test and release software in a more collaborative way that allows them to quickly respond to changing consumer preferences.

Banks aren’t the first thing that come to mind when most people picture a software-driven business. But many of these organizations are fully embracing their new role. For example, Capital One now hosts its own online open source community dedicated to software engineering.

More Software Equals More Risk

In highly regulated industries such as banking, the risk of failure and/or poor quality can be catastrophic. Not only is the software these organizations develop subject to stringent regulations, consumers also rely on it to access critical information.

The key to managing this risk often lies in focusing on quality.

Whereas quality was once relegated to software testers, the latest development methodologies promote making quality a shared responsibility. Often times, this means that developers need to take on some basic quality assurance activities. As the 2017 World Quality Report notes, development teams should emphasize defect prevention (i.e. avoiding defects in the first place) over defect resolution (i.e. quickly fixing defects once they’re found).

Where Quality Matters

Quality should matter to everyone, not just to testers, or development teams, or traditional software companies. In a business environment where consumers expect high-quality, user-friendly software interactions, stakeholders across the business should prioritize software quality and promote its role early and often in the development lifecycle.

As more organizations in traditional markets release consumer-facing apps, development and quality leaders will face increasing pressure to release high-quality software rapidly and reliably. These organizations would be wise to embed quality into the development process now, and avoid sleepless nights later.

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