What better way is there to understand the pain points of legacy software testing and the related opportunities for process improvement than to step into the shoes of the IT professionals working in the trenches? Although the roles vary somewhat for testers working at payment processors as compared to financial institutions, we’ve found similar frustrations and wish lists across both groups.
The shortcomings of legacy payments testing tools from a testing professional’s point of view include:
- Legacy tools fall short in assisting with testers’ major time-consuming tasks, e.g., test set-up, mainly because there is no easy way to share test files or data
- Legacy tools do not adequately assist testers in the analysis of results
- Legacy tools are generally point solutions, not easily leveraged across the entire testing operation
- When testing is complete or when testers leave an organization, test files and data cannot be stored and managed for future use
- Legacy testing environments are inadequate to deal with the realities of current payments time to market demands
The majority of effort associated with testing goes into the activities surrounding the test itself – the advance setup and the analysis of its output. In many cases the actual test takes as little as 30 seconds to run. However, executing the test is sandwiched between many hours of mostly manual preparation time and a similar amount of post mortem work. Testers we’ve spoken with would welcome the ability to automate tedious aspects of this process, enabling more rapid testing cycles and freeing their time for value added tasks.
We have been providing our next generation payments testing solutions to select clients over the past few years and have seen the positive impact, not only on the quality of the payments solution, but also on the job of payments testers. These next gen solutions greatly enhance the role of payments testers through:
- Improved communications and collaboration across development and testing groups
- Improved continuity of testing from version to version – through test data availability and access
- Improved scope of testing – gained from testing personnel having additional time to add value to the process
- Reduced stress from shrinking testing windows due to development delays – by having a well-defined testing environment always available to run
While there will always be a manual aspect to testing, a next gen solution can greatly reduce this aspect of the job. For instance, next gen solutions eliminate the need to build message data element by element, and in the analysis phase, overcome a lack of visibility into how data was processed. This frees up time for testers to focus on higher value tasks like designing test scenarios, analyzing results and pinpointing then fixing issues.
Another major benefit to next gen testing becomes apparent in the inevitable case of delivery date slippage. Development project plans naturally build in “sufficient” time (e.g., 2 weeks) for testing. Despite the best intentions, however, development deliverables often face delays – and just as often, the testing window is shortened in order to minimize impact to the go live date. Experience has shown that doubling the testing staff cannot overcome the halving of testing time. In such situations, the value of next gen testing is that it reduces the stress on the mission critical testing team; improves the quality and comprehensiveness of testing under challenging circumstances; and/or it improves time to market for delivery of a quality product. Under the rapid-fire approach within state-of-the-art Agile development methodologies, any lever to shorten project timelines is essential.
A next gen solution like Web FASTest also improves the critical elements of testing communication and continuity. Within legacy testing environments, the work done by the individual is typically very difficult, if not impossible, to share efficiently as it is usually saved on one tester’s desktop PC. This means that if Colleague A began a test, Colleague B would typically have to start from scratch even if pursuing closely related work. Next gen tools provide an environment that eliminates this weakness, benefitting both existing and the newly hired staff that join testing teams due to the inescapable role of turnover plays in every organization.
A solution like Web FASTest becomes a living test system, providing a straightforward way to share tests and allows collaboration within and between testing and development team members. With Web FASTest, foundational work can be saved as baseline testing templates. When new system requirements are added later in the process, testers can simply add requirements to these templates and execute the combined test cases to apply to the new functionality. On the financial institution side, these next gen solutions can also emulate any necessary endpoint for card issuer, acquirer or mandate testing, eliminating the need to go “into the wild” with live cards in search of every conceivable hardware permutation – another antiquated aspect of a tester’s job description that they’d be more than happy to relinquish.
In most cases, changes to job descriptions are met with employee cynicism. The elimination of laborious tasks made possible by a next gen solution like Web FASTest is the exception to the rule, enabling a more effective, happier testing team.