After a long, hot summer here in the USA, many must be asking themselves if their lives could get any more stressful. COVID-19, hurricanes, wildfires, drought, floods, and of course, politics, have combined to make everyday life very complicated.
Helping to push stress levels through the roof is the constant barrage of e-mails, Zoom calls, tweets and texts - all accentuated by the background of kids crying, dogs barking, cell phones ringing and IMs pinging.
It’s enough to drive a person insane!
Regrettably, none of these issues are likely to go away anytime soon, so it makes sense to try and figure out ways to deal with the additional pressure. However, a recent article in the NY Times offers some interesting insight on how to use stress as a tool to help you feel better and improve your outlook on life even when it seems as if you will be overwhelmed by chaos.
The article outlines three key steps you can take to reduce the negative impact stress has on your life and use that stress for your own benefit.
Step 1: Acknowledge Your Stress
Step 2: Own Your Stress
Step 3: Use Your Stress
While I can’t offer much in the way of additional advice and guidance on how to keep your own personal sanity intact until our lives returns to some level of normality, I can draw some interesting parallels on the importance of managing stress in the payments industry.
Acknowledge Your Stress
Anyone who has charted the history of electronic payments knows that this is an incredible success story. From the introduction of ATMs, to the first POS devices, to e-commerce, to mobile, and on to contactless and IoT, consumers and businesses alike have strongly embraced digital commerce. Even after 50 years and a global pandemic, the CAGR projections for e-payments remain double-digit strong.
Unfortunately, this rapid growth, combined with a seemingly insatiable appetite for new and ever more convenient ways to pay, by both consumers and companies, means that our payment systems have grown incredibly complex.
Given the importance that any single transaction has to an individual or business, whether they are standing at an ATM to get cash, in the supermarket checkout line buying groceries or processing payroll, it is imperative that we do everything we can to ensure that every transaction is processed correctly.
Yes, it can be stressful to manage systems that must perfectly operate 24 x 7 x 365. No one really wants the phone to ring at 3:00 AM. The good news is that there are things that we can do to minimize the risk of failure and help ensure a good night’s rest
Own Your Stress
If you do not own your stress, someone else will own it for you. In our social media driven world, your performance and reputation are on constant display for anyone to see.
No organization wants to see the negative publicity that invariably results from any sort of performance issue. Not only do your traditional rivals want to see you fail, there are a significant number of other competitors waiting for the right opportunity to swoop in and poach your high-value customers.
In fact, it is now so easy to track the performance of banks and other payments providers that people use applications like Downdetector to continually monitor operational issues that get reported for any organization they want to follow. Of course, when you are down, users will not hesitate to add their comments and tell the rest of the world what they think of your organization.
And nobody needs that extra stress.
Use Your Stress
The good news is that it is actually quite straightforward to take what you know about your environment and use that information to develop a solid action plan to uncover, address, and prevent performance issues before they before they go viral. Contemporary payment testing tools can be integrated with your development and delivery processes to establish a robust performance testing regimen.
Setting up and running performance tests used to require specialized resources and applications. Many organizations built customized simulators that were difficult to use and expensive to maintain – causing performance testing to be marginalized and only done infrequently. This legacy approach is inconsistent with the requirements for Agile development or DevOps practices, where performance testing is considered an absolute requirement.
A modern, web-based application, like Web FASTest, allows users to incorporate functional tests, automated regression testing, as well as performance analysis into a single platform that supports a variety of performance testing options:
Load testing: Ensures that an application performs correctly under anticipated user loads. The objective is to identify and correct any performance bottlenecks before the software is put into production.
Stress testing: Puts an application or system (such as a device driver or authorization engine) under extreme workloads to see how it handles the high volume of traffic. Simply put, stress testing is designed to identify the breaking point of the application or system.
Scalability testing: Analyzes the characteristics of an application or system to "scale up" in response to an increase (or increases) volume.
Endurance testing: Validates that a software application or system can handle an expected workload over an extended period.
Web FASTest also provides API-level connectivity with external systems so that performance testing can be easily integrated with your CI/CD pipeline or other enterprise test management environments. Regular and rigorous performance testing will help keep your applications and systems operating at peak performance.
User Experience is the Key
The goal of performance testing is not just about uncovering bugs in your software or finding bottlenecks in your processing environment. It is really about ensuring the best possible user experience for your customers.
There can be no doubt that the payment industry is a stressful place to work. In addition to all the “normal” issues that can affect our industry – floods, fires, snowstorms – we are constantly adding new transactions, developing new payment types, upgrading our technologies, and securing our networks.
The last thing we want is for our customers to experience the stress of having a transaction denied or getting locked out of their accounts or having any sort of negative experience because we failed to adequately plan for and test the capacity of our systems.
A comprehensive performance testing strategy will help improve quality, optimize transaction response times, and minimize production outages. Pushing your systems to the breaking point will not only ensure that you provide the best consumer experience possible, but it will also reduce your personal stress levels and help you sleep at night.