When an Enterprise Wide Test Strategy can be worth its weight…

By Jane Such | October 20, 2017 | Categories: Blog | Tags: , , , ,

The latest is the recent glitch in the Amadeus Altea system, used by BA, Air France-KLM and Lufthansa. The system crashed for 15 minutes, but that caused hours-long delays at Heathrow, Gatwick and other airports around the world, including Charles de Gaulle, Washington, Singapore and Zurich. BA has also had its fair share of problems, no fewer than seven tech failures this year.  BA’s problems peaked during the summer holidays, when its check in systems went down, leaving angry passengers queuing for hours. The system, called FLY, was introduced last year and replaced a series of old systems covering seat allocation, baggage and passport checks.

It’s not just the airline industry that suffers glitches. But compared to other industries – and because the effects on passengers are so immediate and so extreme – it probably attracts more negative media coverage. The reputational fall out is extremely damaging – it affects customer loyalty, market share and investor sentiment. Some airline industry analysts believe that BA’s tech woes have cost the company north of £80 million.

And the cause of most of these tech disasters? Almost all of them can be put down to holes in the company’s approach to quality assurance and testing, when undetected software bugs are allowed to slip through the net and go into production.

An enterprise-wide test strategy (EWTS)

A major issue for organisations is that QA and testing are often in silos and are parceled out to specific projects rather than having a centrally managed approach – it is piecemeal and disparate, not cohesive. In the same way organisations have a single financial or HR strategy, they need an enterprise wide test strategy (EWTS).

A major element of an EWTS is that the mundane aspects of testing become part of a repeatable, industrialised process, freeing up testers to focus on more strategic elements of their role, like anticipating defects and challenging specifications. The strategy is the first step in giving testing a framework and real foundation.

The importance of leadership and getting ‘buy in’ from the top can’t be underestimated. It helps to give the strategy impact and gets the message across to the organisation. Making testing measurable is also important – assessing how QA is performing as a service is vital in making it a successful business function. Issues, such as how good the testing team is at finding defects, and how efficient the development team is at fixing them, is important to measure. It is only when assurance becomes measurable is it possible to improve it.

What is to be gained from EWTS?

Avoiding technical glitches is the primary aim of an EWTS. If it’s not in place, how can a team effectively perform an upgrade or implement a new application? When it has the dire consequences we have seen in the aviation industry, that’s a risky road to travel. In the same way a company might use disaster recovery to avert a potential crisis, an EWTS can future proof against any potential tech pitfalls. It won’t solve all your problems – but it is an excellent place to start.