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How To Win The Battle And Lose The War In Financial Services

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The importance of what financial services (FinServ) providers do cannot be overstated. Banks, credit unions, processors, acquirers, issuers and networks are vital to our daily lives.  Imagine a day when you lost access to your accounts, could not get cash from the ATM, your debit and credit cards are not available for use, your company cannot send out its payroll deposits – you get the idea.

The unsung heroes and heroines who keep the systems running are to be found in the testing and QA departments of FinServ providers.  When you consider the sheer volume of money that is successfully moved every day around the world without incident, the job these technicians do is remarkable.  Without the careful analysis and testing they do – stress, regression, et al –  it would not take long for the whole wondrous thing called commerce to come to a grinding halt.

Those of us who build the tools and solutions used by these testing teams and departments understand the significant role they play in ensuring that such a scenario does not become a reality. All across the payments industry, from small credit unions and banks to networks whose brands are known to millions (even billions), we encounter dedicated testing professionals committed to making sure people and businesses can access, manage and use their money 24/7/365.

Seldom does anyone using their cards, withdrawing cash or making a payment with a mobile phone stop to realize the amount of work that has gone on behind the scenes to ensure that kind of “always on” accessibility and convenience.  However, organizations that bet their brand value on providing these mission critical payment services think about nothing else.  The investments they make in the systems and networks that deliver anytime, anywhere financial services are significant because these organizations understand that even the smallest unplanned system outage is not trivial to the individuals or businesses impacted.

However, availability is just table stakes for getting in the game. The infrastructures that support an increasingly diverse and complex set of financial services delivered to more and more physical and digital endpoints can run for years with no downtime.  Unfortunately, that is no longer good enough in the social media era.  For example, a single improperly declined card in-store, at the ATM or online can create a Twitter storm that seriously impact a brand.

In addition, the pace of innovation has achieved an exponential velocity that has elevated the role time to market plays in keeping a FinServ brand strong.  The amount of time that is acceptable for getting new features and functions to market has been compressed by traditional and non-traditional competitors. Late delivery of something new that consumers or businesses suddenly see as vital can a company’s brand to labeled old, legacy, out of step or worse.

Meanwhile, senior managers responsible for testing are looking for ways to address this “need for the speed” so their companies can remain relevant in the marketplace. At the same time, they are working hard to assure the highest levels of quality are met, even as layers of code multiply and interaction between disparate systems increases.

Across the financial services community, there is increasing focus on moving to a Dev/Ops model that incorporates more advanced automated and continuous testing strategies.  To achieve this, more organizations are using newly-emerging solutions that eliminate manual processes by replacing aged desktop testing products with centralized, collaborative, virtual environments that automate repetitive work, thus freeing testers to do more of what they are trained to do; e.g., build tests. With budgets tight and human resources finite, optimization of available assets is a must. These newer test tools become more valuable as they get used more broadly, continually helping improve the ROI FinServ companies receive on the investments they make.

Every day we speak to testing managers and executives who understand that the investments they have made to provide continuous anywhere, anytime access to financial services are greatly diminished in value if they do not address these other challenges. Having a partner in testing who sees this larger picture is becoming a basic requirement for FinServ organizations that wish to address all these requirements to enhance the value of their brand.

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