Over the last 10 years, the enterprise IT landscape has changed dramatically. It’s not too long ago that even the largest organizations relied on just a handful of core financial, ERP and HR systems across their business - with applications generally deployed on premise and managed internally.
This meant that enterprises were largely able to keep on top of both their innovation-driven developments and compliance-based software release upgrades. Most were focused on a core SAP or Oracle Financials ERP platform, perhaps with additional CRM or HR systems from vendors such as Peoplesoft or Siebel. Internal IT leaders were able to manage and keep on top of their release schedules, finding the right balance between changing their applications or technology for a competitive advantage and maintaining compliance adherence – against the resource implications and testing effort required to effect change.
Managing applications disintegration
Step forward a decade and it’s a very different picture, with organizations across all sectors acknowledging the requirement for deep transformation in the face of accelerating disruption challenges. Perhaps the key difference from ten years ago is that the rate of change is so much faster. A study conducted by the John M. Olin. School of Business at Washington University in 2014 estimated that 40% of the then-current Fortune 500 companies would no longer exist within ten years. Many would say that, with today’s accelerating disruption agenda, this could prove a conservative estimate.
Agile IT is clearly at the heart of this critical digital transformation debate, but it needs to be set against the last decade’s disintegrated enterprise applications environment. Major software application platforms such as SAP and Oracle have expanded and woven across organizations rapidly while new enterprise suites from vendors such as Microsoft, Salesforce, Workday, ServiceNow and others have become established.
Organizations have also been more willing to adopt best-of-breed cloud solutions to address business-specific functions and fill gaps, while a series of national and international regulatory requirements – such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which comes into effect across EU member states in May 2018 - continue to make compliance increasingly challenging.
Transitioning from IT infrastructure management to service enablement
All these factors combine to drive more and more change into the IT landscape, and that’s before CIOs and their teams have incorporated the changes they need to make in response to industry hot topics such as web apps, evolving UI strategies, SAP S/4HANA deployments, machine learning and eventual AI, as well as the adoption of Agile and DevOps methodologies.
Given all this change, it’s not surprising that consultancy firm Deloitte reported that 50 percent of CIOs find it difficult to cope with the rapid change brought on by digital technologies. It’s no longer enough for CIOs and their teams to manage complex IT infrastructures, they must also implement, run and manage multiple enterprise applications to deliver critical business strategies. This means keeping pace with technology change, protecting against business disruption and remaining agile enough to stay competitive in today’s markets.
Driving speed and innovation through intelligent automation
The need to manage digital business challenges and accelerate transformation is also driving the adoption of intelligent automation. As organizations continue to evolve and refine their operating models, they’re increasingly finding that the traditional manual approaches they’ve always relied on simply don’t have enough bandwidth to handle increased demands on testing.
There are a number of issues driving this. First, CIOs and their teams are now managing much broader and more complex enterprise IT landscapes ranging across multiple technologies. For example, an organization might be running their payroll function within their SAP ERP, but also running their HCM modules in Workday or SuccessFactors, and their eCommerce via SAP Hybris. Previously they would have been able to test their processes at a unit level, but now IT teams are effectively having to run multiple parallel tests to ensure that their end-to-end processes are performing correctly.
Evolving toward continuous automation
Similarly, with business processes now spanning multiple deployment models, many feature elements that are delivered by external vendors via Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) models are driving the need for continuous automation. And with SaaS vendors following their own specific testing and release cycles it can be hard to keep pace. For example, it’s not uncommon for software vendors to impose just a three-day testing window each month before updates are released into a production instance.
So, if you’re running four or five overlapping SaaS applications in your core landscape, you’re effectively already operating a continuous testing environment just to remain compliant with all the latest SaaS releases across your business. As a result, many IT teams have found that it’s almost impossible to slow down the SaaS release cycle. At the same time, teams are also being pressured to accelerate their own internal applications development programs. A growing proportion of internal users expect their business applications to keep pace with the innovations they already experience every day in their personal digital lives.
Given these time and resource pressures, it’s hardly surprising that more and more organizations accept that they simply can’t rely on traditional testing methods to meet their evolving applications needs. Many have found that their established script-based testing tools just can’t scale to cope with the level of changes that are brought about by today’s Agile methodologies and DevOps approaches, with the result being that manual test programs can easily hit a wall.
Supporting critical applications with continuous automation
So the choice is clear – either run your IT team and business users ragged by throwing more and more manual resources at your application landscape, or get serious about fully adopting automation. Staying with manual effort, however, will have limitations. As your team has probably already found out, traditional approaches mean that you have to quickly establish what you can and can’t test – which introduces inevitable risk into the process, or means you have to reduce your test frequency. However, that’s not going to leave you in a good place to support the dynamic, iterative, and collaborative nature of today's development approaches. And in many cases, there’s a huge delay in the ability to create effective automation because first you need to identify what your actual business processes are. Capturing and documenting the end-to-end processes manually adds time to testing effort and introduces human bias.
The only realistic alternative is to adopt an automated approach that allows you to start testing much earlier in the project lifecycle – helping you to eliminate your QA backlog and roll out new products and innovations more quickly. Effective automation is simply the only way to keep up with agile development because end-to-end testing must be done repeatedly and iteratively to ensure quality.
Delivering end-to-end applications testing
Worksoft, with its integrated platform for automated business process discovery and testing, can help you minimize the risks associated with IT innovation and digital transformation - enabling organizations to:
- Support critical enterprise applications, including on premise, cloud, mobile, Web and HTML
- Deliver end-to-end automated application testing across entire business processes, going beyond SAP to support platforms such as Oracle, Salesforce, Workday, ServiceNow and others
- Add value and accelerate testing through automated discovery, analytics, documentation, compliance support and robotic process automation
The bottom line is that organizations must avoid the introduction of bugs because it will impact their overall operations. An automation solution from Worksoft allows them to shorten project timelines and improve IT team productivity by speeding up testing cycles and reducing manual effort, offering effective regression testing to ensure high quality code. As a result, they get higher quality applications in users' hands.
Using Worksoft's automation solutions in DevOps environments can not only speed the deployment of high quality software, but also dramatically reduce testing time by up to 90 percent - even in the face of continuous development, integration, and overall change.
With more than 20 years’ experience delivering automated business process discovery and testing solutions, Worksoft has the expertise to deliver innovative technology in today’s constantly changing applications landscape. And with the company’s specific focus on the enterprise packaged application space, Worksoft not only supports applications across the entire enterprise, but also can deliver the automation needed to support end-to-end business processes across applications as well as cloud, mobile, Web and HTML platforms.