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Perspectives

Quality at Speed: The Key to Digital Success

2016-09-13


New Forrester research reveals the importance of software quality and speed for digital transformation, as well as how businesses can achieve this goal. Here’s what you need to know.

In the fast-moving digital age, winning companies are under increased pressure to deliver a highly valuable experience to customers, both digitally and in-person, at their time of need. Meeting the expectations of digitally empowered customers requires IT teams to not only build software solutions quickly but to also ensure these systems are of the highest quality. This requires a rethink of traditional development, testing and delivery strategies. The stakes are high, as all it takes is one great digital experience to win customers from the competition, or one bad experience to lose them forever.  

How can businesses meet this mandate for both software quality and speed? 

To find out, Cognizant asked Forrester Research this summer to evaluate the demands faced by the application testing process in the digital age. In its in-depth study of 500 organizations, Forrester found that while many companies today embrace the importance of digital in theory, they are not universally converting that recognition into a hard focus on ensuring software quality and speed. 

Quality@Speed — Details of the Market Study

This is a mistake, according to Forrester, because software is what makes a business digital—it is the key to unlocking business success today. To release quality software without sacrificing speed, companies must make their testing programs more agile and embed testing more thoroughly into their DevOps practices. Only then can they achieve both quality and speed in unison. 

Key findings from the Forrester study include:

  • IT professionals face unprecedented pressure to deliver high-quality digital experiences, and do so quickly and within defined budgets. Despite what is often said about time and budget dominating project outcomes, one-third of respondents (34%) said the number-one criterion for application success was combining speed with quality. In fact, combining speed and quality was the most frequently chosen No. 1 success factor overall, above either quality or speed individually.

Quality@Speed — Summary of Findings from the Market Study
  • Nearly half of respondents indicated that business leaders were demanding both speed and quality in equal measure. Over two-fifths (44%) said their business leaders were pushing them to improve user or customer satisfaction with the software they deliver. 

  • In pursuit of both quality and speed, more than half of companies today have adopted DevOps practices, which allow them to streamline application releases by removing walls between development and operations teams. 

  • More mature companies – those that  rank themselves ahead of their digital competition in terms of responding to digital disruption – were 11% more likely to use end-to-end testing services and solutions. These respondents prefer in-house solutions (provided they have the capabilities) or use third-party integrators for best-of-breed approaches and tools.

  • While many respondents (65%) have adopted best practices such as code scanning and security testing, their uneven use leads to an overall lack of automation. For example, 67% of respondents usually rely on manual testing, and one-third (30%) said they always test manually. This raises the risk of both delays and errors, according to past Forrester research. 

  • The study also showed that companies still generally favor testing centers of excellence (TCoEs) vs. a federated approach to testing. While TCoEs offer many benefits, Forrester also finds that because they centralize and execute all testing activities within an organization, they can encourage development teams to think of testing as an afterthought. 

  • The most successful digital companies embrace DevTestOps. Most (87%) respondents who rated themselves as digitally mature are following the best practice of testing continuously, iteratively, progressively, and with more automation from DevTestOps.

Our study reveals that the mandate for quality and speed is readily appreciated by IT professionals. Nevertheless, they struggle with four major roadblocks when working to reach this goal: the need for cultural change, scattered adoption of best practices, siloed organizational structures and the need to integrate an incredibly complex ecosystem of specialized tools. Today, there is no one vendor that covers the entirety of the delivery pipeline, and the market is evolving faster than any one vendor can keep up with.

Balancing Quality and Speed for Digital Success

To this last point, surveyed companies were overwhelmingly open to partnering with external providers, specifically for converged testing solutions. In our view, the best integration providers are the ones capable of delivering business as well as technology assurance to fuel successful digital transformation.  Such partners have reputable experience with integrated ecosystems to ensure end-user experience across complex digital environments.

The benefits of automated testing within a continuously changing environment are evident for speed and quality, yet many companies are still struggling to embed automation into their lifecycle activities. DevTestOps will ensure testing becomes an integral lynchpin of DevOps. Adopting Agile testing practices and emphasizing the need to combine testing with development and operations will provide more sustainability to fast innovation cycles to win, serve and retain customers in digital transformations.

To learn more, please read our full report Quality@Speed Is the Key to Digital Success or visit our Quality Engineering & Assurance practice.

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