To Adopt Digital Tech, Utilities Embrace New Approach to Testing

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 Within the utilities industry, there’s a growing recognition that quality assurance (QA) based on dispersed testing operations is no longer viable.

 As utilities navigate an industry that is investing heavily in new solutions, which are predominantly commercial off-the-shelf digital solutions, they need a QA framework that centralizes and standardizes testing. For leading utilities organizations, that can mean a shift toward testing centers of excellence (TCoE)—an agile approach to mounting QA requirements.
The Value of a TCoE
For years, utilities underinvested in technology—a consequence both of budgetary and regulatory constraints. But as digital transformation sweeps the industry, and utilities realize the degree to which new technology can improve process efficiency, augment customer service, and bolster worker productivity and safety, they’re trying to make up for lost time.
With these investments in new technology, utilities are introducing system development efforts that require testing processes they’re ill-equipped to handle. For example, many organizations are still entrenched in traditional QA processes defined by dispersed testing functions—an untenable option for the system-wide adaptability that digital transformation demands. Also, many utilities have a limited IT department, and want to avoid saddling talent with test scripts when they need to focus on higher-value functions.
That’s where the TCoE comes into play. In highly dispersed IT environments, the TCoE provides organizations with a unifying framework. The basis of the TCoE is a centralized command center that functions to standardize and industrialize testing across an organization. A fully-realized TCoE is agile by nature, offering an adaptable framework through which companies can quickly deliver applications, preemptively contain defect leakage, bolster overall application performance and maximize existing assets.
Key benefits of a TCoE include:
  • Scalable resource management techniques that can support variability in demand
  • Reduction in total cost of ownership for applications
  • Accelerated quality delivery for meeting regulatory and business compliance
  • Creation of knowledge assets that can be leveraged in the future
  • Leading management techniques, and the associated metrics to monitor and adapt performance levers that can improve overall quality.
Strategic Planning for a TCoE Implementation
Utilities won’t realize the benefits of a TCoE without proper implementation. And for many organizations—particularly those embedded in outmoded IT functions—that doesn’t mean hasty one. Here’s a high-level guide for initial strategic planning:
  1. Perform a Readiness Assessment. The push toward TCoE begins with a careful readiness assessment to take stock of existing QA functions. For utilities that handle testing in a dispersed and project-based way, more standardization may be required before proceeding. Additionally, utilities should use the readiness assessment to determine whether they have the QA organizational skills in-house to support a streamlined approach to testing centralization.
  2. Gain Leadership Buy-in. Beyond assessing in-house QA talent, utilities should ensure they also have across-the-board leadership buy-in for a TCoE. Executive backing is a key precondition for a quality TCoE, since it will allow companies to channel resources into optimizing its development.
  3. Establish a Roadmap. After determining readiness, utilities can begin to lay out a roadmap for successful TCoE adoption, beginning with pilots and metrics reporting.
  4. Unite Disparate Parts. From there, companies should spend time setting strategic goals for the TCoE and mapping out how it will integrate with existing QA functions. Organizations should also use the roadmap phase to build out internal teams to spearhead various elements of TCoE development, including teams for asset management and automation. They can then investigate the outside tools and resources they’ll need to manage an incremental adoption.
As expanding digital capabilities influence how utilities operate, organizations must adapt their QA and testing functions to keep pace with the digital push. With a centralizing framework that bolsters visibility and optimizes efficiency, the TCoE represents an important step in a utility enterprise’s digital transformation.
By determining readiness for TCoE adoption in a thoughtful and measured process, utilities can deploy a successful TCoE that helps them retain a competitive advantage in a crowded and evolving sector.

Article published in, Thursday, 8th June, 2017

This piece was co-authored with Natasha Dowling, a Client Partner in Capgemini’s utilities practice, Sandip Parekh, a Testing Services Leader and Prashant Kharche, an Engagement Leader at Capgemini.

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