Software Quality Matters Blog
Original Software and Sheridan Hindle, CIO of Midcounties Co-op spoke with Computer Weekly editor Cliff Saran, to talk about the quality assurance work they are doing together, particularly on iterative development.
In particular, When Midcounties Co-operative decided to upgrade its payroll system, it took the opportunity to move from a waterfall to an agile methodology. “From an IT perspective, we wanted the new system to be tested by the payroll team,” said head of IT Sheridan Hindle.
The organisation used services from Original Software to help it drive down costs on quality assurance and was able to test 50% more software than before. Hindle said Midcounties now has a way to manage and document test scripts, allowing the team to check who had tested what bits of the application and supporting testing in iterations
“We have a properly documented testing process so we can go back and run annual tests each year, looking through what’s changed and ticking off what we did before,” he said.
Read more: http://www.computerweekly.com/news/2240221987/CIO-interview-Sheridan-Hindle-co-operates-to-replicate-IT-benefits
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We have been outnumbered for years now, with little hope of ever catching up. Not by competing nations or companies, but by billions of devices we can hold in our hands.
The number of internet-connected devices first outnumbered the human population in 2008, and their numbers have been growing much faster than the human population ever since. According to multinational networking giant Cisco, there were about 10 billion internet-connected devices in 2013, and there will be 50 billion by 2020, including PCs, smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, chips, sensors, implants, wearable devices, connected cars and devices which have not yet been invented.
Pundit Irving Wladawsky-Berger, a commentator on the global evolution of business and technology, calls the current state of affairs the “hyperconnected” economy, a digital marketplace where a broadening array of sensing and tracking devices share a rising flood of data through an ever-expanding network of channels.
“We’ve been going through a kind of digital perfect storm, where a number of major IT trends are each gathering speed while interacting with and amplifying each other: mobile devices, cloud computing, Internet of Things, social networks and Big Data and analytics,” Wladawsky-Berger wrote recently.
In other words, more and more consumers hold the buying process literally in the palms of their hands.
For retailers – the sector riding the crest of every wave of new technology since the earliest days of e-commerce – the hyperconnected marketplace can be a force that elevates them above the competition or dashes them to pieces on the shore. Here are three reasons why:
• Every transaction is faster – E-tail analysts say about 80 percent of mobile sales in the UK already come from tablet computers. Sales via smartphones are growing even faster, as technology improves and retailers adapt their websites to make shopping from handheld devices easier. No wonder sales from smartphones in the UK nearly tripled between 2012 and 2013. The effect of this sea of mobility is a culture of immediacy among consumers, who seek instant gratification and demand nothing less. A rising tide of sales flows to retailers that can fulfill their desire quickly but low ebb awaits those that cannot — because with a few swipes shoppers can purchase that same item from a competitor while standing in a store.
• Every market is larger – Mobility has made becoming a global business largely matter of choice. According to research by McKinsey & Company, nearly 3 billion people worldwide have internet access and there are nearly 7 billion mobile phone subscriptions worldwide. This means retailers literally have the potential to reach billions customers around the globe – if they can get their attention and keep it.
• Every store is more than a store – e-Commerce forever altered the traditional shopping model. Not only did browsing the web reduce the need to visit a location in person, it expanded the view of available inventory. Today consumers don’t care if an item is sitting on a shelf at the local store, in a warehouse overseas or scheduled to be assembled by the manufacturer next week. Furthermore, they have no interest in whose profit or loss statement is accountable for a particular item. They see ABC company as a single entity, a brand. To win and keep them, retailers had better see the relationship the same way and manage logistics accordingly.
These three points add up to one conclusion: Retailers can’t afford to waste time and money guessing how to satisfy customers. Delivering a positive customer experience will determine who gets the sale across the spectrum of products from luxury items to household goods, which makes agility an imperative for retail organizations in the hyperconnected economy.
And for agility, retailers need technology that enables them to sell as quickly and precisely as hyperconnected consumers can buy. But how many retail IT departments are prepared for the hyperconnectivity of 2017, a year when some analysts predict the number of apps downloaded to smartphones, tablets and other devices will exceed 200 billion?
Conventional methods for developing, deploying and integrating the software that runs mobile interfaces, processes transactions, manages inventories and other critical links in the retail supply chain weren’t designed for this breakneck pace. Automating software testing and website validation processes is one way retailers can cope.
Faster, more efficient software quality assurance reduces the time to market for new retail technologies – new apps and updates to existing ones. And to reap the most benefits from automated testing, retailers can’t afford to have IT workers and business people operate in silos. Each needs the other’s expertise and perspective to manage the speed, scale and complexity of today’s digital marketplace. Working together is the best way to manage the customer experience holistically and continuously.
A futurist might call it “hypercollaboration.” But whatever the term, it’s the way retailers can develop the necessary agility to keep pace with today’s hyperconnected economy.
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Earlier this month, Software Testing News, a website that “delivers the latest news in the industry, from the most up-to-date reports in web security to the latest testing tool that can help you perform better” carried an opinion piece from Original Software CEO Colin Armitage.
“Given the mission critical role they play, it’s odd that testing and QA are perceived in some quarters as little more than a necessary evil,” Colin writes in his recent column. “The cost to business doesn’t help. When a new application is implemented, or a number of systems are aligned, upgrades are performed or even when a patch is applied, the business has a massive contribution to make in terms of verifying and testing they can still perform all their business processes efficiently and accurately.”
Colin points out the “upsides of QA” which include avoiding disasters, such as the initial failure of the Healthcare.gov website in the US and recent online pricing errors that cost retailer Wal-Mart customer goodwill.
“It’s astonishing to think that in the 21st century with the technological progress we have experienced, this sort of failing is still common,” Colin writes.
What’s Colin’s advice to organization’s vexed by QA & testing? Read the full article here: http://www.softwaretestingnews.co.uk/qa-the-yawn-function-of-it/
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Original Software is excited to announce the latest release of Qualify, our industry-leading application quality management (AQM) solution.
The upgrade enhances the ability of project and test managers to optimize testing activities in real time and meet project objectives with the most efficient use of resources.
Gathering data and creating reports and dashboards manually is time-consuming and prone to data aging. The improvements within Qualify allow users to filter live data and structure reports exactly to their requirements, using graphs and pie charts to illustrate information including:
• Incomplete Business Requirements
• Test Cases with Open Issues
• UAT Percentage Complete
• Defects by Owner
Armed with this visibility, project and test managers can drag and drop employees and consultants to outstanding testing tasks.
The solution provides a graphical view of all projects, tasks and resources, allowing teams to fully maximize the resources they have available – shoring up where needed or redeploying elsewhere where not.
This includes alerts when specific expertise is needed – e.g., an automation expert or business analyst, and part-time workers and holidays – giving a real-time picture of the time and resource available.
Colin Armitage, CEO of Original Software, explains the importance of these enhancements:
“This new version of Qualify helps businesses to take a more efficient approach to QA and testing. The management information and planning capability help organizations respond quickly to changes across their software projects and make the most efficient use of resources.”
Read more at http://www.prlog.org/12325578-original-software-optimizes-software-testing-resource-management.html.
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Information Age considers the implications of the results of new research from Original Software which reveals that many corporate IT departments may be unprepared for the accelerating pace of change in business software applications. Analysts estimate there will be as many as 200 billion apps downloaded to smartphones, tablets and other devices by 2017. Despite this deluge of new software the research shows that corporate IT organizations don’t seem to be paying enough attention to the challenges of quality control and have little faith in the applicability of their software testing technology. The article offers IT teams three tips to ensure the quality of new and upgraded applications.
Read more at: http://www.information-age.com
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Insurance & Technology, a US publication that “provides insurance business and technology executives with the targeted information and analysis they need to be more profitable, productive and competitive,” recently published a contributed article by Original Software CEO Colin Armitage.
“We’ve all seen it happen: An IT project plagued with delays, changes and complications goes so far off the rails that it becomes a liability,” wrote Colin, describing projects such as new product launches that exceed budget by more than 200%–sometimes as much as 400%. Industry pundits call these projects “Black Swans.”
“Disasters are avoidable, though,” Colin reassured readers. “Implementing a quality management solution will help insurers introduce new products and get them to market in a timely fashion while still allowing for the rigorous testing that prevents glitches and compliance issues.”
Testing prior to a product launch is essential, he advised, told insurers to pay heed to five testing tips:
1. Validate all IT and business data and technology.
2. Cover every aspect of a product launch.
3. Test everything that could go wrong.
4. Test the live environment.
5. Use technology to ensure your software and website quality processes are fast and efficient.
Read more of Colin’s article in Insurance & Technology here
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By Colin Armitage, CEO Original Software
Learn how Marston’s documented 1,000+ processes in a few weeks.
The Business Process Management (BPM) market is set to reach a value of $10 billion by 2020, from its current value of $3.4 billion, according to a 2014 survey from Wintergreen Research Inc. This highlights just how crucial business processes are to the effective running of organizations all over the globe. The corporate world operates under an extremely complex, constantly evolving web of business processes.
The efficient running of an organization is utterly dependent on the smooth running of its processes and the software that underpins them. And it is impossible to optimize processes and software until there’s a deep understanding of how they operate.
Mind the gap
But there is never a person who knows everything about how their organization operates, rarely a central repository of process information. Process knowledge typically resides with just a few people, the “super users” in the case of software, or “subject matter experts” (SMEs) for business processes. But is this information documented should they leave the organization? What would happen if that process knowledge were to just fall through the gap?
If business processes are not documented in glorious, gory detail, right down to how to execute them in various IT systems, organizations could be leaving themselves open to a significant risk.
Getting in shape
This is where Business Process Capture (BPC)—a subset of BPM—comes in. It’s a way of using software to automatically document an organization’s business processes while its staff performs them. It might seem like yet another acronym, but in complex IT environments, BPC could be the key in helping organizations get their processes in good shape and it’s far less costly and time-consuming than asking business analysts to do it.
Certain situations can complicate the process environment and highlight the need for BPC. Take a merger or acquisition. Bringing together two organizations with very different methodologies, systems and processes can create infrastructure chaos, derailing the efficient running of both organizations. The financial services sector is a classic example of this – consolidation and globalization mean many banks are dependent on ageing legacy systems and highly complex process environments, meaning many suffer from efficiency issues.
London or New York?
Multiple approaches to one process can also cause problems. The London office of one business might take two minutes to generate an invoice and the New York office eight minutes. Capturing the process and taking a single best practice approach, properly mapped screen shot by screen shot, will vastly improve the efficiency of the global finance operation.
Organizations are a web of different business processes that must be understood if they are to be managed effectively. Documenting these processes quickly and efficiently is the vital first step to untangling them and turning an organization into the most efficient, effective operator it can be.
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Original software is excited to announce that our organization has been selected as a Finalist for the 2014 Grocer Gold Awards in the “Technology Supplier of the Year” category, which recognizes the company whose innovation in 2013 has most meaningfully boosted the sales, profitability, effectiveness and/or reputation of a grocery/fast-moving consumer goods retailer or supplier.
Our company is being recognized for outstanding work with Midcounties Co-operative, the best performing company within the Co-op Group, and Marston’s, the UK’s largest independent brewer.
We helped Midcounties Co-operative improve the quality and speed-to-market of their customer-facing software and reduced the time and cost of ensuring a high-quality, low-risk SAP upgrade for Marston’s. For more detailed information about each of these projects, visit the Customer Stories section on our website.
The awards, which are now in their 12th year, will be announced at a glittering ceremony at London’s Guildhall today and hosted by comedian and actor Stephen Mangan.
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Retail Online Integration (ROI), a US-based online publication that bills itself as the “go-to source for marketing, e-commerce, operations and management executives looking for the latest news and analysis on the omnichannel retail industry” recently ran a column by Original Software CEO Colin Armitage.
In his column, Colin summed the direction in the retail world this way: “Retailers are innovating in response to consumer demand for instant access to product information and transactions through digital channels.”
Colin also offered anxious retailers five pieces of advice for coping with this trend:
1. Plan ahead
2. Adapt quickly
3. Avoid disasters
4. Test first
5. Test quickly and often
Read the details of each tip in Colin’s ROI article here: http://www.retailonlineintegration.com/article/retailers-don-t-cut-corners-with-it-investments-skimping-testing/1
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By George Wilson
The mis-selling of financial services products, PPI (payment protection insurance) in particular, has blighted our insurance and banking landscape for years. The figure for consumer compensation for PPI now reaches a breathtaking £20bn, marking it out as the UK’s worst ever consumer scandal. The industry is now relatively switched on in terms of ensuring all employees are toeing the company line on how to sell to customers in a fair and honest way, as opposed to keeping one eye on their end of month bonus targets.
However, there have been a number of incidences where companies have received fines as a result of incorrect or misleading information on company websites. Easyjet and Ryanair have been fined recently by Italian regulatory authorities for incorrect insurance policy information on their website. Website mis-selling is a tricky area for financial services companies. Clearly the mis-selling itself is typically not intentional, but any company can be found guilty of displaying wrong or misleading information on their website that leads a consumer into making a wrong or misplaced purchasing decision.
And this is not compliant with FCA regulation. The FCA itself has referred to mis-selling in the context of “consumer detriment arising from the wrong products ending up in the wrong hands, and the detriment to society of people not being able to get access to the right products.” If the consumer is exposed to the wrong information, then this fits with the FCA’s stance on the issue.
The problem for any company, whether they are a financial services company or not, is that website glitches causing the display of wrong data are usually caused by either human and/or technical problems and are often connected to data validation, testing and quality assurance. Changes made on a website, a software upgrade or a patch for example, can cause anomalies in the website and alter the data that is displayed. One change of code, or even data messed up in a product manager’s spreadsheet, could have repercussions through the site. So data owners might be guilty of mis-selling when the action was entirely accidental.
But there are strategies that can help. Automated testing and validation solutions aimed at maintaining ‘business as usual’ can run thorough content, checking every update and flagging up glitches of all types immediately, so when financial services providers engage with consumers through their website, they can do so with confidence.
The problem is that if glitches do happen and consumers are mis-sold financial products as a result, then the insurance companies and banks are the ones who are liable, even if the reason the mis-selling took place is accidental. And the FCA does not shy away from imposing heavy fines on companies. So to keep on the right regulatory track as far as mis-selling is concerned, FS companies would do well to get their website testing and quality houses in order.
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