Key Forces of Change Driving the Need for Automated Discovery, Testing and Production
In today’s post-digital era, change is constant and inflexible with the potential for massive impact on your critical business processes. Done correctly, a well-executed automation strategy can deliver greater agility, risk mitigation and peace of mind to ensure end-to-end business processes remain intact throughout the cycles of change.
There are five key forces of change driving the increased need for automation today:
Complex IT Landscapes
Prior to the proliferation of SaaS and Cloud, companies had four to eight applications to manage. In today’s post-digital era, that number is exponentially larger with 45, 50, sometimes well over 100 applications or more in a production environment. And these technology applications are increasingly complex, increasingly interdependent and increasingly weaved into the fabric of the business’ operation. A single breakdown can result in significant loss.
There’s a dire need to ensure end-to-end business processes function as expected across these complex applications. Testing, validation and execution practices for these processes must be up to the task of navigating all that complexity. And manual testing is far too time consuming.
Test Automation empowers organizations to scale these practices to match the size and scope of their post-digital era operation. By automating the software testing process, organizations can accelerate project timelines, boost quality assurance and test coverage, and avoid overburdening testing staff.
Uncontrollable Release Cycles
Gone are the days of waterfall implementations and upgrades scheduled to suit the business. Enterprises today are relying on the advanced technology of packaged applications like SAP and SuccessFactors, each with their own release cycles. Even those who use just a handful of apps for their digital core are facing scheduled updates occurring three, four, five, even 12 times a year, per application.
That’s a lot of change to manage. And it’s not change they’re choosing, it’s change that’s thrust upon them.
We’re talking about disparate calendar dates, preview windows, and production cutover timelines. The sheer complexity of multiple, recurring releases cycles that don’t align with one another intensifies the need to ensure end-to-end business processes keep running as intended in the midst of all that change.
What are the steps in my process? Where are the interconnections and interdependencies of all those applications? How do these changes impact my daily operations?
Automated discovery can enable enterprises to understand the connection points between packaged applications and beyond. And automated documentation can provide a blueprint to follow to ensure mission-critical, end-to-end business processes aren’t disrupted as a result of the revolving door of change. For process validation, automated testing can support faster identification and resolution of any issues that do occur.
Agile Development Adoption
Many organizations across the globe are adopting Agile methodologies. The concept is simple: focus on individuals and interactions rather than processes and tools.
The approach supports the ability to break larger projects into smaller tasks and deliver features faster that are useful for the business. The benefits of reducing time to value are significant. But the challenge of applying this approach to a software development environment is that while the efforts of Agile developers are largely siloed, the rapid, frequently implemented individual changes they drive inevitably impact other systems.
A continuous delivery strategy that includes continuous automation done early and often, also known as “shift left” testing, can help provide business process assurance in these rapidly changing Agile environments. Both automated discovery and automated regression testing can be used to support a Center of Excellence to create the checks and balances necessary to deliver the continuity and business process assurance necessary.
Need for Speed
Regardless of the development methodologies used, most organizations feel the pressure to innovate. Whether consumer or business-to-business, we are living in an Amazon world where customers, users, and employees have high expectations for speed, convenience and delivery.
In order to create experiences that meet evolving demand, departments across the enterprise – from IT to HR to Supply Chain Management – are tasked with finding new ways to be competitive. Those tasks frequently translate to a digital application, which impacts some or many of the technologies involved in an end-to-end business process.
By design, automation support goals for expediting tasks associated with business goals. A well-defined automation strategy can play a key component in any enterprises’ innovation initiatives.
Remember, our IT application landscapes have increased by 10 times or more in a relatively short time period. The availability of skilled resources to support those applications isn’t growing as rapidly in most disciplines. Plus, the training and expertise necessary to master every single one of those different technologies is beyond what most individuals can absorb at the rate that these applications are changing. And even if your enterprise is in a top metropolitan market and your talent pool is endless, your budget most likely is not.
Automation can augment the efforts and expertise of technical staff, completing tasks associated with discovery, testing and more in a fraction of the time. So your overtaxed staff is freed up to focus on higher-value tasks, like resolving the issues flagged by test automation, or spearheading new innovation.
Automation that can span today’s complex digital landscapes enables enterprises to keep pace with the rapid rate of change and provide greater quality and peace of mind, while saving time and money.
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