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How do you feel about customers commenting on the quality of your software?

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This week Capgemini and HP launched the World Quality Report for 2011/12, the latest edition of an annual report based on the experiences and surveying that the two companies’ testing businesses have uncovered individually and by working together. It’s an impressive document running to 88 pages and is available as an online download so I don’t want to cover the detail here, but pick up on a couple of points. There are six key points made in the executive summary, and I want to comment on what I see as the pattern and linkage that lies behind this;

  1. ‘The recession has energized IT modernization’
  2. ‘Technology innovation, geographical and sector priorities are driving the future spending of Quality Assurance’
  3. ‘Emerging markets are investing more in quality and the cloud’
  4. ‘Testing Centers of Excellence, TCOEs, have yet to be fully leveraged’
  5. ‘Generating business value is QA’s ‘Achilles heel’’
  6. ‘China and Eastern Europe are increasingly contesting India for outsourcing leadership’.
The first point goes to show that rather than spend more on making the existing legacy handle the new demands, the shift is to introduce new generation solutions. And, of course, that also means looking again at build or buy, plus now increasingly ‘consume’ meaning X as a service. The second point links to the first around using technology increasingly as a front office capability to interact differently with the market which, of course, is where the new ‘consume’ issue comes up around X as a service. The third point quite simply says that in the new markets they are cutting out a lot of the old practices by moving straight to new deployment models to support the development of new go-to-market business models.

It is the fourth and fifth points that are really interesting as a consequence of the first three and may explain why the sixth point around new leadership in outsourcing is being contested from new geographies that have a lack of legacy and a keener view of adopting new practices. So what is my point? Our traditional views on software, quality and testing are based on internal applications and the need to see if they actually work properly and in a sustainable manner to serve the needs of a relatively contained number of our own users. It’s an approach that usually sees testing as part of the project, and indeed often part of the roles of some of the development team. And, as such, the interest and the need for independent testing Centers of Expertise is not so clear.

But the new requirements and the new technologies are changing this. What we build is granular, around services, and as such needs testing for its ability to perform its role as a service to a more exacting and different set of ‘standards’ in order to be combined and orchestrated into an unknown number of processes. Now the tests have to not only cover functionality and reliability but also strict ‘rules’, and increasingly even ‘standards’, about how this new, rapidly produced code using some form of Agility methods to a ‘good enough’ approach will function in multiple orchestrations. Now that’s a tipping point to consider when and why to think about ‘testing’ in a very different way, and to consider a Center of Excellence approach where the wider knowledge and testing capabilities can sit.

However, I have still inferred this is an internal matter, even sounding as if it’s an old style ‘support SOA’ move, but it isn’t. Business is now focused on how technology allows it to change how it behaves in the market place, and that means how services from one enterprise may be combined with, and consumed by, another set of services provided by another enterprise. That’s when Quality Assurance of your software really does have a business value!

It’s also the point at which we come back to a previous post of mine about how standardization really does matter as we go forward. All in all, the quality of the world’s software is going to matter, and most of all the quality of our own software is going to really count as it becomes part of our visible ‘go-to-market’ proposition. That is what I mean in the title of this post!

Time to read the findings in this year’s report with some attention to working out what applies to our own development and testing operation!

About the author

Andy Mulholland
Andy Mulholland
Capgemini Global Chief Technology Officer until his retirement in 2012, Andy was a member of the Capgemini Group management board and advised on all aspects of technology-driven market changes, together with being a member of the Policy Board for the British Computer Society. Andy is the author of many white papers, and the co-author three books that have charted the current changes in technology and its use by business starting in 2006 with ‘Mashup Corporations’ detailing how enterprises could make use of Web 2.0 to develop new go to market propositions. This was followed in May 2008 by Mesh Collaboration focussing on the impact of Web 2.0 on the enterprise front office and its working techniques, then in 2010 “Enterprise Cloud Computing: A Strategy Guide for Business and Technology leaders” co-authored with well-known academic Peter Fingar and one of the leading authorities on business process, John Pyke. The book describes the wider business implications of Cloud Computing with the promise of on-demand business innovation. It looks at how businesses trade differently on the web using mash-ups but also the challenges in managing more frequent change through social tools, and what happens when cloud comes into play in fully fledged operations. Andy was voted one of the top 25 most influential CTOs in the world in 2009 by InfoWorld and is grateful to readers of Computing Weekly who voted the Capgemini CTOblog the best Blog for Business Managers and CIOs each year for the last three years.

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