Growth is Outstripping Ability to Ensure Quality Testing

Richard Buckle October 4, 2017
High quality

When you consider the actions of some of the biggest technology vendors in the marketplace today, it’s hard to ignore their many press releases reporting just how successful they have been with whatever strategy they happen to be promoting at the moment. Or, not! Whether you like seeing growth developing organically or have more of a penchant for seeing your favorite vendor growing inorganically through mergers or acquisitions, the net result is the same – change. 

Yes, we are dealing with so much change of late that, dependent on the vendor taking center stage; more often than not you are left contemplating whether and how the investments you have been making will actually accelerate the generation of new business. We have all seen that. Chart after chart depicting curves rocketing upwards. It’s all about growth and our ability to scale up to meet the growth being projected for our business.

Today we have a technology landscape cluttered with exciting opportunities, from Big Data, Clouds, the Internet of Things (IoT), the Industrial IoT (IIoT), the Edge and powering up the Edge, and yes, analytics in real time along with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and even Augmented Reality (AR). All of these concepts coming to the forefront with the intention of helping businesses better address the needs of its customers in a proactive manner and win business away from the competition. At the same time, the complexity of all the systems involved increases even as the need to produce more applications gains momentum. There is mind-boggling array of tools, utilities, middleware and frameworks being marketed as development aids, but as one colleague pointed out, there are now just so many tools at their disposal that they need another tool just to track the all the tools!

Scaling for Growth and Change

To even the most casual observer of IT today, there is a sense that the rapid pace of change means that quality just has to suffer. There is no way that everything being put into the marketplace can work to spec, first time out in front of real users. However, that is exactly the expectation of most corporate management. The shock and despair evident in the news briefings and press releases following the failure of a new product or system are clear evidence that we need to consider new approaches to making sure that what we build will actually work. In my previous post to this blog, I noted that when it comes to embracing change, time and money are clearly important, but be cognizant of scale as well.  This is particularly important during those times when a business is undergoing rapid growth by adding new customers, products, services and partnerships. However, this is where many traditional approaches begin to fail us – we simply cannot keep adding human resources to address testing as we face growth.

Scaling to meet the testing challenges that come with rapid growth and innovation necessitates the need for integration and the use of automation. Without these advancements, shortages of skilled personnel will become apparent all too quickly, eventually throttling down the growth curve that might have otherwise been realized. “It’s not just about scaling to meet demand as a business grows; companies also have to scale for change,” said Paragon CEO, Jim Perry. “In order to be successful tomorrow, companies need to do things differently. Just adding more hardware or more physical resources will not work anymore.” Scaling to meet both the transactional demand being generated by growth, as well as the equally demanding challenges that come with the deployment of new technology, leaves few alternatives other than to automate the testing process, end to end, and have it coupled with whatever change management in place so that it is launched every time changes to any processes are made.”

With as much discussion as there is of late about the need to modernize and to leave well and truly behind us the legacy systems of the 20th century, dismantling the application silos we previously built in order to embrace open systems running on industry standard components, it is often overlooked how we go about reassuring ourselves that what we are bringing into the data center is as robust and reliable as the legacy systems and applications that took us so many years to construct. Certainly, we can acquire systems that are much faster, flexible and probably less expensive than those we currently depend on, but just how certain are we that these new “engines for growth” can be relied upon to meet our expectations for reliability, availability and ultimately scalability?

Working Smarter with Automated Testing

When it comes to our payment networks then the challenges become pretty obvious. Over the past 40 years or so, all forms of electronic payments have grown significantly. Successfully scaling for growth has certainly been a key factor in facilitating this growth. Now however, we need to start thinking about scaling for change. Transactions that once flowed only through “hardened” POS and ATM systems can now be initiated on a laptop or a smartphone or wrist band or even by a refrigerator. Payment processing systems need to be able to deliver and support the common customer experience across all of these delivery channels, as well as new ones we haven’t even thought of yet.   What additional demand might we face if the IoT really takes off and we need to support and certifying transactions from our appliances, our automobiles, even our houses? Suddenly a single piece of code may need to support a dozen different “channels” and the changes this brings about is multiplied many times over as you tally up the application code accessible through these many different “devices.” Simply stated, as smart and as experienced as our staff may be, they will quickly become overwhelmed with the additional load they become subjected to.

“At Paragon we have worked hard to stay ahead of this curve. Many of our customers are just beginning to realize that they need to improve their internal testing processes by modernizing, automating and integrating,” said Perry. “Because we have been doing this for so long, we are able to provide firsthand experience, advice and guidance.” And this really is the value proposition Paragon brings to the discussion. As specialists in the field of payment testing, they can scale up in a way that ensures the capabilities they provide never leave a financial institution lacking the resources to handle their own scale-up issues. Working with the hundreds of customers that Paragon has today means that there is very little that they haven’t seen or integrated within the Paragon product suite. If you are going to stay successful and relevant during the next wave of change you need all your testing to be automated and integrated.

We have yet to really feel the full impact of much of the latest technology. Analytics, AI and AR are still in their infancy as it relates to payments, but we are starting to see change related to biometrics (on a large scale) as well as the IoT. But most assuredly, the changes will keep coming. As electronic payment volumes continue to grow and technology continues to evolve, it’s time to rethink the way you test automation, test driven development and continuous integration require serious consideration. You will still need to have skilled staff on hand even as you need to be aware of what tests need to be automated but as with any investment the data center may consider, it is the strength of the vendor that continues to be a priority and when it comes to Paragon, the breadth of its presence in the payments marketplace has few parallels. Access to firsthand experience, advice and guidance are often times all that separates successful deployment of automated testing from failure and as Perry noted, “We have worked hard to stay ahead of this curve!”

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