The Early Years of Packaged Applications
From the inception of packaged applications, companies of all sizes have taken advantage of the economies of building, maintaining, changing and deploying functionality through third party software providers. Why build a general ledger or payroll/human resources system when you can license it instead? Why not leverage out of the box functionality offered by third party software and rely on the vendor to offer support and maintenance and stay current on regulatory, industry and process best practices.
The first generation of mainframe software transformed quickly as the technology evolved, introducing client-server as the better, more cost-effective deployment platform. The applications themselves were still being developed and deployed in functional silos - their interaction with other critical functions of the business an after-thought. Although less than ideal, interfaces were developed to transport data from one system to the next – leading to the introduction of middle-ware as an economical means of “connecting” the silos.
At that time, SAP emerged as the leader in delivering comprehensive, end-to-end business solutions on the most advanced platforms. They quickly captured the market and cross-industry adoption continued to deliver best in class results to their customers. PeopleSoft was also introduced to the market during this era, initially focusing on the payroll/human resources market. They ultimately started developing and delivering ERP and CRM systems as well.
Change continued to accelerate as web-based systems were introduced which impacted the economic and technological dynamics of “user requirements,” development, deployment, and costs.
Throughout this evolution, industries, companies and individuals not only developed an incredible reliance on the performance of their “systems,” but forward thinking organizations saw this as a quick path to competitive advantage.
The Need for Speed
The problem then as now - how do you accelerate the value of the technology investment to the business? The technology was purchased, licensed, and implemented to achieve a specific set of business benefits. When it comes to these large enterprise application investments, companies conduct in-depth evaluations and build business cases to map out exactly what results they expect to realize. This typically involves a look at what financial and human capital investments – time and money – will be needed to achieve success with a product as well as the financial, efficiency, and competitive gains that come with the ongoing use of the software.
On one side of the equation, development methods have evolved to meet this need for speed. Waterfall methodologies are being replaced with Agile. DevOps has become the new buzz-word. But there’s something else to consider - the business side of things. There is an ever-increasing reliance on packaged applications to execute and deliver critical business outcomes. It’s important that applications are developed and deployed quickly and changes can be made regularly, but how do you ensure that business processes are running flawlessly?
Surprisingly, many companies are managing their enterprise application processes manually. This means hours of white-board meetings spent trying to understand existing business processes. Weeks during every project spent writing test scripts that break when something changes. Delays in delivery because manual testing can’t keep pace with business change. The implementation and ongoing management of enterprise applications is complex, and a crucial component is making sure that end-to-end processes work—every time, every day. Manual or first generation testing means system downtime, errors in production, wasted time and energy and companies left open to technology risk.
The bigger picture is that those approaches are fundamentally standing in the way of achieving the results companies set out to achieve with packaged apps. How can you make the financial, productivity, and competitive gains that you were counting on if your processes aren’t performing flawlessly?
The Evolution of Testing
Thankfully, the answer is today’s fourth generation test automation that is enabling business users and organizations to adopt, accept, and utilize new applications faster. When processes across enterprise applications are executed seamlessly and as designed, companies can harness the potential of their enterprise applications to achieve strategic goals like entering new markets, increasing revenue, and maintaining a competitive advantage.
Worksoft, the pre-eminent fourth generation automation platform, delivers unmatched speed in automating the identification of current business processes and automatically creating tests to ensure that each business-critical process works as required. An independent study of Worksoft customers by industry analyst IDC identified many unique benefits of Worksoft’s automation platform, but chief among them was accelerating delivery of these applications by an average of nearly two months. Consider how much more you could accomplish if you could cut weeks and months from every project. Leaders across the globe have adopted Worksoft as their weapon of choice to improve their financial and operational positions in their respective industries.
Lead the Way
First to market with autonomous cars? Moving your business model from DVDs to online subscription services? Evolving from an online bookstore to the world’s largest internet retailer? These companies didn’t simply try to keep up. They were determined to lead.
Today’s digital economy brings massive opportunity to companies looking to disrupt the market. There has been a fundamental change to the business landscape and companies who are competitive innovators will win.