Fighting Payment Glitches by Software Testing

In the current business climate, organisations are looking for ways to be cost efficient and increase their return on investment (ROI), while at the same time achieve good quality to meet customer expectations. To cope with the changing trends, enterprises are now adopting new and emerging technologies that focus on providing rich user experience, but they pose greater threat due to their larger attack surface.

The E-Business Benchmark Report, a survey of 2,000 UK-based online retailers conducted by Sage Pay, has shown that 68% of internet retailers believe payment charges and technical glitches to affect their businesses more than fraud. One example of this is when the supermarket chain Sainsbury’s was forced to suspend its online grocery shopping service after a technical glitch marred its website, leading to a loss of nearly £11m. There were also some instances where online retailer Amazon and search giant Google has experienced problems due to technical glitches – Amazon estimates that they will lose 1% in sales if their site experiences more than 100ms in latency, while Google estimates that it loses up to 20% of its traffic to a web page if that page takes more than 0.5 seconds to load.

In the event of current software glitches and failures, testing is gaining huge significance and is getting a larger slice of the IT budget. The industry is witnessing a change in the mindset of organisations that now view testing as imperative to improve the quality and performance of their applications, rather than a time-consuming exercise. Industry analysts are also in agreement that testing is one of the fastest growing areas of corporate IT expenditure. IDC forecasts the discrete global testing services market to reach US$17.7bn by 2013, accounting for a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19%, while the latest market report from Pierre Audoin Consultants (PAC) has found that global spending on testing software and services is currently outstripping overall IT expenditure, and will continue to grow at a CAGR of 5.2% over the next four years. PAC expects worldwide spending on testing nearly to hit the €100bn mark by 2014.

Quality Assurance (QA) – Shifting from Tactical to Strategic

Emerging (1980s/early 1990s)
  • Tactical view of QA.
  • Ad hoc.
  • Lack of defined QA process.
Transitioning (late 1990s/early 2000s)

Increased acceptance of QA value propositions.

  • Dedicated test team.
  • Use of test processes.
Advanced (late 2000s/2010s + beyond)
  • Tactical to strategic shift in QA.
  • Establishment of QA centre of excellence.
  • Advanced use of metrics for ongoing improvement.

Testing helps organisations to identify bugs, reduce defects, and increase the productivity, resulting in reduced time to market and costs, while achieving the desired quality. Integrating testing in the software development lifecycle (SDLC) will help organisations to verify and validate the product/application, mitigating the risks of failure post launch. But the real challenge is identifying bugs earlier in the software development lifecycle. Driving validation into the front end of the software development life cycle (SDLC) will help enterprises to avoid huge costs incurred if the defects are found in the later stages of the SDLC. Testing should be considered from the beginning of the development process in order to ensure that it meets business requirements.

Previously, organisations overlooked the contribution of testing to the business and the impact it has on the annual IT costs. But the increasing budgetary pressures and the impact software glitches can have on businesses have made organisations rethink the advantages of testing. Developers that used to perform testing across various organisations, but organisations have recently recognised the importance of involving third-party independent testing services provider in the project.

Independent Testing Becomes Mainstream

Figure 1: Enterprises separate testing from development to prevent conflicts of interests from arising

Software testing is seeing an extreme change evolving from traditional testing services to specialist testing services. The testing performed by developers and full-time specialist testers vary in terms of methodologies, automation tools, and specialised services. Functional testing tools are not enough, as organisations are focused on achieving the balance of time, cost, and money while at the same time meeting the non-functional requirements such as security, testability, scalability, maintainability, usability and performance. Third-party independent testing service providers are offering various specialised services in order to meet organisations’ specific objectives.

The advent of various testing services will help organisations to find the software glitches that could otherwise lead to disaster. In the ‘new normal’, organisations will be focused towards the prevention and not the detection of defects and hence will view testing as the only key to success. As predicted by most analysts, enterprise spending on testing services will increase over the coming years. Consequently, the future will be for third party independent testing service providers, who will gain traction in helping organisations avoid the huge business disasters and potential losses.

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