Payments Testing Center of Excellence: Size Does Not Matter

Posted by Steve Gilde on October 9, 2018

Over the past few weeks, I have written quite a bit about all the change taking place within the payments industry. If the level of activity at a small company like Paragon is any indication, we are about to see things shift from just being very busy all the way into overdrive.

Of course, this is a good problem to have. Change means opportunity and we definitely see a lot of opportunity in front of us to help other organizations improve the way they test.

As we engage with clients and prospects from around the globe, we notice significant differences in how these companies have journeyed to arrive at this point in 2018. Some have been in the digital payments business from the very start, others grew up as the industry expanded and of course, some are brand new. There is a lot of history, technology, regulation, as well as many personalities that must be considered.

Despite the diversity of all the various organizations we engage with, we do see similarities that show up in just about every conversation:

  • We want more control
  • We want more flexibility
  • We want to automate as much as possible

It does not really matter if any particular organization is still doing most of its testing manually, if they already have one (or more) point solutions in place or if they are implementing an enterprise-wide test strategy, these three key points will be discussed. (To be transparent, cost also comes into these conversations, but I think more people are realizing that addressing the three major issues actually helps them deal with tight budgets and limited resources.)

So with all of the activity going on at present within the payments industry, how does any organization get started on the path toward more control, more flexibility and more automation?

The Path Forward

A few months ago, I blogged about how building a Testing Center of Excellence (TCoE) is the answer for many organizations. Many larger financial institutions and payment processors have gone this route and have established enterprise-wide organizational constructs, along with appropriate policies and procedures that are used to achieve their corporate testing goals. And, there's quite a bit has been written about the benefits of a TCoE and how to go about building one.

But what if you are not a top-tier bank or a multi-billion dollar per year processor? What if your organization is not ready to make that investment? The payment industry is still moving just as fast for you as it does for everyone else and you still need to deal with the accelerating pace of change. What then?

Conversations with a number of smaller industry players at the recent TAGxPIX event in Las Vegas made me realize that there are actually a lot of companies that want and need to improve their testing capabilities, but are a long way away from being able to build a “Testing Center of Excellence” within their organization. In fact, for many this is something that will probably never happen.

So I am wondering if this discussion is a simple as changing the scope of such an initiative from “Testing Center of Excellence” to testing center of excellence or even center of excellent testing? This really is not an attempt to be cute or cheeky, but I think it is possible to de-scope the discussion from the enterprise level (Big T) to something much more manageable (little t). You will still have very similar goals and achieve similar results, but at a more tactical level, say within a payments testing department or group or ATM test lab, without all the overhead of an enterprise-wide TCoE implementation.

Here are the “Big T” items that I listed back in my August blog, along with a revised statement for a “little t” approach:

  • Lead and direct the required transformational activities to build a World Class Testing Center of Excellence (TCoE) center of testing excellence focused on providing consumers with the very best user experience possible no matter when, where or how they choose to interact with the enterprise.
  • Engage with key stakeholders from all across the organization to ensure that they understand the importance of the TCoE center of testing excellence and get their “buy-in.” This includes line of business owners, IT, info sec, legal, risk & compliance, procurement, etc.
  • Avoid any payment testing failures that result in a disruption in the delivery of products or services to the marketplace or cause brand damage
  • Establish departmental goals, processes and procedures to continually improve the quality of products and services
  • Increase the use of automation, analytics and artificial intelligence within the payment center of testing excellence to improve quality, efficiency and reduce delivery times
  • Utilize appropriate new technologies to keep the organization payment testing center of excellence moving forward, competitive and relevant
  • Ensure the TCOE center of testing excellence for payments is always in complete compliance with all corporate, industry and regulatory standards
  • Define and design a 10 year strategic testing roadmap, including capacity planning
  • Select and inspire the resources necessary to execute on the 10 year plan

OK, so those last two from the original list are a little more difficult to manage at a tactical level, but anyone working within the payments industry understands that things will continue to change rapidly.

So, whatever you are doing in your payments testing environment today, there is always opportunity to do things better. 

No matter if you are looking at moving away from manual testing for the first time or if you are ready for Continuous Integration or DevOps Paragon has solutions that are right for you.

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Topics: Payments Testing, ATM Testing, Automation, Innovation