SOGETI UK BLOG

A recent story in Reseller News focused on findings of a corporate survey which  revealed that almost three-quarters (71 percent) of UK software development heads admitted customer-facing applications were being delayed by conventional approaches to software development and testing.

At Sogeti we’re not at all surprised – we had already conducted a survey of our own that revealed clearly that outmoded application development and testing methods are having a tangible impact on end customers in 2012. But we also know that the key priorities for testing professionals today remain quality, cost and then speed, in that order. At Sogeti of course, we ensure we can deliver on each of these priorities.

In economically challenging, competitive markets, businesses are under ever increasing pressures to deliver a large turnover of new and revised products on an accelerated timetable. This inevitably leads to testing complications, and failures to live up to expectations.

Brave decisions must be made today by software development heads, to throw off the restraints of conventional testing services. Instead they must seize the initiative and gain clear competitive advantage over rival developers by adopting more innovative approaches and methodologies that embrace Test Process Improvement (TPI), a Test Management Approach (TMap), Testing on the Cloud, Agile Development Testing, Software Testing-as-a-Service (STaaS), or a Shift Left philosophy.

If you’re interested in learning more about Sogeti’s innovative thinking, or just want to talk to us about how we might be able to help your business, please contact us today.

Richard Terry AUTHOR:
Richard Terry is the deputy CEO of Sogeti.

Posted in: Performance testing, Risk-based testing, Shift Left, Software testing, Survey, Test Automation, Test Methodologies, Testing and innovation, TMap      
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American scholar Warren Bennis once said that innovation required “courageous patience” to ensure the acceptance and internalisation of ideas through repeated attempts, endless demonstrations and what he called “monotonous” rehearsals. I can understand that viewpoint – innovation isn’t easy and doesn’t come naturally to every organisation. It has to be part of the company’s culture, encouraged by management – and yet managed in a way that limits overall business risk. Here at Sogeti we understand that balance: innovative software testing and thorough Quality Assurance require both a sense of daring and a conservative streak.

Sogeti, as part of the Capgemini Group, is in an enviable position. In the 25 years we’ve been in software testing innovation has been one of our main drivers and a catalyst across our business. Of course, you may point out that I work for Sogeti, so I’m bound to say that. But I’m not alone in my enthusiasm for how we successfully nurture and encourage innovation at Capgemini and Sogeti. This week Capgemini Group was recognised by HP with the award ‘HP Software Most Innovative Alliance Partner of the Year’ for EMEA.

Innovation must never be a spurious claim. It must be a day-to-day execution of a strategy underpinned by core beliefs. At Capgemini Group this extends to the scope and strength of our partnerships with companies of the calibre of HP – a collaboration reinforced by initiatives such as the TMap® Accelerator for HP Quality Center; a mutual go-to-market vision which has grown our joint client base in public and private sectors; and a fundamental interest in our market, highlighted by our joint commitment to comprehensive market reports such as the World Quality Report and the new Application Landscape Report.

In technology, partnerships are only as good as the effort and commitment put into them. Our relationship with HP has gone from strength to strength, benefitting our own teams, our consultants and most importantly of all, our customers. I look forward to 2012 and innovating further in partnership with the HP team.

Richard Terry AUTHOR:
Richard Terry is the deputy CEO of Sogeti.

Posted in: Capgemini Group, Software testing, Sogeti Awards, Testing and innovation, World Quality Report      
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Software development is fraught with risk: the complexity of today’s applications, interoperability and time and budget constraints make it, well, interesting and challenging, to predict how an application’s code will perform under different real-world conditions. Meanwhile downtime and its massive impact on brand, reputation, sales and customer service is not an option.

With those factors in mind, I think it’s worth every company taking a step back to consider how to eliminate the risks they run with software testing. Certainly some considerations that I think should be kept front of mind are:

1- Start early. Reduce operational costs and the potential risk of rework by incorporating testing throughout your development and implementation processes. When you come to define all your application requirements, define your testing approach in parallel. Test the requirements before you write any code. Remember that automated testing can be used to accelerate time to market, but should be used only where appropriate.

2.  Be methodical. Use tried and tested methodologies including TMap (Test Management Approach) to guarantee that the whole process meets standards, customer expectations, laws and other criteria. Risk can be reduced and quality improved, by employing best practice at every stage of the testing process, by following a cycle of testing and rectification through which issues are identified and resolved. Testing also helps to clarify and quantify the risk in any untested piece of software.

3-     Don’t mark your own homework. We all benefit from a different perspective in our work. External consultants can be used to add broader, more varied testing expertise to the cycle. A fresh perspective can be useful in uncovering software faults that may have been missed by a focused tester in need of support for verification and validation. Ask external consultants to ensure that the project meets the specification, the specification meets the requirements, and that the requirements meet end-customer expectations.

4-     Prioritise according to business risk. Ultimately risk is based on two criteria – the likelihood that a problem will occur and the likely damage of the problem when/if it happens.  Any and all areas that could potentially have the greatest impact on the business should be tested first. It is essential that this is understood throughout the business from top to bottom, establishing a shared understanding of how important each software feature really is. This means anyone from the board to the IT lab knows the difference between essential functionality and ‘fluff’ features.

5-    Bridge the gap. Despite best efforts, it’s not uncommon for there to be a communications breakdown between the business and IT. Typically IT heads simply fail to understand why the business really needs certain features, while the business cannot empathise with the constraints on delivered from IT. It’s vital to nip this in the bud and ensure that there are clear and even lines of communications across any project from the outset. The business must work together with IT experts to ensuring thorough planning, testing and continuous retesting and improvement of software.

 

Richard Terry AUTHOR:
Richard Terry is the deputy CEO of Sogeti.

Posted in: A testers viewpoint, Risk, Software testing      
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You may have heard it first as the title of the 2000 film starring George Clooney which told the tale of multiple disasters that combined to sink fishing boat the Andrea Gail. But today the expression ‘perfect storm’ has passed into our language to describe a situation in which a rare combination of events arises simultaneously to exacerbate circumstances dramatically.

In meteorological terms, a perfect storm referred to the disastrous confluence of three separate weather-related phenomena. In the Quality Assurance arena our CEO Brian Shea recently used the label to highlight the fact that three rapid changes in technology – the advent of the cloud, the low levels of QA budget post-recession and the highest requirements for application performance – can all combine to throw up significant obstacles for organisations trying to increase efficiency while delivering innovative IT solutions in a slowly recovering economy.

Our World Quality Report (WQR) revealed that 42 percent of companies do now have plans to increase their budget allocation for application QA and testing, while 81 percent of companies hope to move at least some of their IT systems to the cloud over the next two years. These are extremely positive and welcome findings.  Many of these organisations have never had to pay so much attention to application quality in order to ensure they get it right, first time. But do their internal IT departments always have the specialist skills required at their disposal to test emerging technologies such as the cloud, mobile internet and virtualisation? With hefty QA budget cuts still rife (our survey revealed that organisations across all industries had witnessed reductions over the past two years) businesses must now need to find new ways to quell the storm.

At Sogeti we believe that test outsourcing will play an increasingly important role in enabling and optimising quality assurance investments over the coming years. Test outsourcing is a compelling alternative route that may have been overlooked or dismissed by some organisations, however it offers a fresh, cost-effective means of bolstering internal teams with external expertise, while adding vital missing skills for adopting new technologies that promise to strengthen applications security.

Over two thirds (70 percent) of respondents to the WQR already employ contractors or third-party vendors, not just for software testing but also for some degree of quality assurance. By exploring the broader possibilities of test outsourcing, businesses are able to get smarter at optimising those tight budgets.  This is particularly important as companies adopt agile delivery methods, and look increasingly to move systems to the cloud. The realisation that both testing and application QA can be readily outsourced to efficient, trustworthy partners without relinquishing control, will almost certainly contribute to many organisations steadying their ships thanks to that objective guidance, and navigating themselves to calmer waters in the very near future.

Richard Terry AUTHOR:
Richard Terry is the deputy CEO of Sogeti.

Posted in: Opinion, Software testing, World Quality Report      
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Sogeti’s Manager’s Guide to Success with Cloud Computing – Seize the Cloud – takes a look at how different types of organization are moving towards cloud enabled solutions.  For new start-ups cloud enabled solutions can be as simple as a purchase of business enabling solutions on a pay per use basis using standard tools such as SalesForce and GoogleApps.  This will enable them to manage sales and communication between staff and with their customers.  Almost zero investment is needed and their business is up and running.  For established organizations it is, perhaps, more difficult.  The book suggests that for those organizations who are able to realise the benefits of Cloud computing more readily  there is a need to be a  business technology focused rather than information technology focused organisation.  This means that the organization’s technology is no longer seen as “quasi-independent”, and exists and is measured on its ability to support business transactions.  The book suggests that enterprise architects in a business technology focused organisation will be characterised by facilitating, accelerating and coming up with ideas rather than causing delays to business projects because they are not a perfect fit for the documented or  imagined organizational enterprise architecture.  Those organizations that are truly business technology focused are best able to achieve the greatest benefits (and cost savings !).

In a study conducted by Booz,  Allen, Hamilton investigating the potential savings of cloud computing for the US government, they concluded that the total cost of ownership of sustaining a cloud environment could be as much as two thirds lower over a 13 year period than for a traditional non-virtualized data centre [Alford and  Morton 2010].

A fully cloud-enabled business will view their solution as more than just a shift in the use and selection of infrastructure but as a way of having “anything-as-a-service”; potentially allowing users to purchase their own solutions.  This means the enterprise architecture needs to be able to adjust rapidly to the emphasis on a business (process) led solution rather than a technology led solution.  An enlightened enterprise architecture that embraces the use of the cloud over time significantly increases business agility.  Similarly, the adoption of the cloud enabled solution is predicted to show a significant decrease in IT running costs.

The authors urge caution on selecting your Cloud provider.  The ability to specify the service levels you need is important for established business.  Today’s IT savvy users are unlikely to accept prolonged periods of poor response time or even unexpected or unplanned service outages.  Researching the real levels of performance, availability and reliability you are going to receive is an essential part of the purchasing decision.  If possible you should get this written into a contractual SLA.

The book then goes on to describe the common risks associated with moving to a cloud enabled solution, but in reality these are no different to the considerations we have to make when implementing any other new IT solution.  There are ways of overcoming the issues that will enable the benefits to be realised. The most often quoted risk is that the cloud can never be secure.  This is true but the same statement can be made about any externally accessible system.  The challenge for businesses considering making the move is to engage or employ appropriate specialists  and address the issues early in the process and to choose their solution wisely.

This means that successful deployment of cloud enabled solutions that offer real benefit to the organisation require an architected integrated solution that is driven by the outcomes needed by the business.  It will also, as the book explains, push IT to a new level of professionalism, making it an organic part of the business.  This suggests that moving to the Cloud is not a “simple technology migration but a whole shift of paradigm”.

If you are interested in finding out more, you should get a copy of the book (Seize the Cloud: A Manager’s Guide to Success with Cloud Computing ISBN 987-74314-32-5) or contact your local Sogeti representative.  In the UK this is Richard Terry, Deputy CEO (Richard.terry@sogeti.com).

Richard Terry AUTHOR:
Richard Terry is the deputy CEO of Sogeti.

Posted in: Sogeti books      
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