Let’s face it: business applications aren’t getting any less complex, and customers aren’t going to lower their digital expectations any time soon. There’s a new king in the IT world—quality.
The reality is that many computer systems are one glitch away from catastrophe.
Imagine an anvil suspended precariously above you, hanging by an overmatched rope that’s slowly shedding its fibers—counting down strand-by-strand until the metal behemoth becomes too much to bear.
Sounds like something straight out of Looney Tunes, right?
Though the example may be a touch over-the-top, it’s analogous of the reality many companies face regarding their computer systems—one glitch away from catastrophe. Whether it’s an ERP system, a custom app, or something else entirely, business applications are a company’s nervous system, controlling almost every aspect of the organization. And while most of these applications are pretty stable if left alone, a near-perpetual stream of patches, releases, and updates provides a constant threat—a single stray line of code can bring the whole system to its knees.
So why then, under such a significant threat, are so many corporations content to merely shudder in fear while doing nothing to shore up the problem? The answer is simple: a lack of focus on quality. Historically speaking, quality assurance and software testing have gotten the short end of the stick when it comes to IT budgets. Putting an actual value on quality isn’t an easy task, so its diminished role is understandable when compared to other options that have a more concrete ROI attached to them.
But, as Bob Dylan so famously said, “the times, they are a-changin’.”
Over the past two decades, a number of disruptive technologies have emerged across a wide swath of industries. In their efforts to quickly adapt to support these constantly changing trends, many companies were forced to develop complex stopgaps to shoehorn them into their legacy systems—leaving themselves with an intricate, highly specialized system that has to be tested by a decentralized network of SMEs. Naturally, this isn’t optimal for the business side of the company (as SMEs are immensely valuable outside of testing), and has become a primary driver of change in IT organizations.
At the same time, customers have more technology at their fingertips than ever before, and that’s driving changes of its own. As they demand better quality software to interact with, along with better back end systems to support them, they have a seemingly infinite supply of alternatives with which to turn to, should your product fail to live up to its standards.
In response, companies are spending more on QA/testing than they ever have before. According to the 2017-18 World Quality Report, a staggering 26% of their IT budgets are going to testing! Brand managers and CFOs have finally recognized the value of quality, and it’s driving transformational, department-centralizing changes like the establishment of in-house (though sometimes externally-managed) Testing Centers of Excellence and the rapid adoption of third-party outsourcing.
More than ever before, quality is “sexy” in a business sense. And that’s a good thing, because it means that it’s finally cool to commit yourself to making those improvements you’ve been eyeing up for years. That anvil’s been hanging over your department for far too long now, hasn’t it?