News & analysis from across the industry

Improving your IT budget (and The Beautiful Game)

First meetings with our many clients around the world often reveal their misconceptions about testing technology. Let’s face it, testing isn’t the world’s sexiest topic, and few CIOs and CEOs are interested in the details of what goes on under the bonnet (or the hood if you’re reading this in the States).

We always spend time talking them through different scenarios or analogies to improve their understanding of how testing works and its possible impact on their business. Our own CIO was in London this week speaking to a company’s product and marketing team. Trying to explain the effect testing has on their business, he quickly got the attention of two Fulham fans in the room when he used a football analogy.


The beautiful game

Our CIO believes that testing is the goalkeeper of the payments industry.  Goalkeepers receive little attention from the fans, and they’re just expected to get on with their job without major flair or celebration.

Development and Design, on the other hand, are strikers and creative midfield players, and so much more interesting. They’re the flair players – the ones who get the major accolades, often simply for doing their job. The only time things are different in a football match is in a penalty shoot-out, where the keeper’s ability to prevent goals is as important as the striker’s ability to find the net.

Your business is in a penalty shoot-out every day of the week, and the ‘goalkeeping’ function that prevents failure is testing. Although hidden away and out of sight, it will make a high-profile appearance if there’s a mistake. Ignore it at your peril!

Good goalkeepers are worth their weight in gold. Good testing is equally so.


Quantifying the cost of testing

Fulham has just reached the League One play-off final at Wembley Stadium. For our overseas readers, this is the richest football match in the world, as victory here and promotion to the Premier League is estimated to bring in a guaranteed £170m in revenue from sponsorship and television rights. Fulham will play Huddersfield Town, who booked their place in the final after a penalty shoot-out with Sheffield Wednesday. Their goalkeeper was outstanding.

And that’s where testing has another similarity with football: the potential rewards for getting it right are enormous.

According to Capgemini, QA and test budgets have grown steadily every year since 2012. On average, the industry is spending 31% of its IT budgets on testing and this is expected to rise to 40% over the next two years. Capgemini believe that a reasonable level is 25%, but many people are relying on outdated methods which rely on large teams of manual testers. Manual tests can add eye-watering costs, but for anyone testing payment technology with the right experience and an automated system I think that costs can be kept below 20%.

Another study by NIST, ‘The Economic Impact of Inadequate Infrastructure for Software Testing’, estimated the cost of ineffective software on an economy to be approximately 1% of GDP. We have all seen the effect a high profile failure can have on a business, with loss of brand reputation, revenue and customer satisfaction. Share prices suffer significant losses when an organisation is front and centre in the news for the wrong reasons.


What to do about it

Quite simply, companies need to review their approach to testing their technology. But when testing is viewed as more of a Joe Hart than a Cristiano Ronaldo it rarely gets the attention it deserves.  A review and a change of process can quickly yield financial benefits which can then be invested in innovation. It will also keep you out of the headlines and enable you to sleep more easily at night.

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