One key finding of the report was that just six percent of the 1,500 respondents had established a Test Centre of Excellence (TCoE). We expect that this TCoE adoption figure to rise rapidly as the value of software testing and QA is recognised by enterprise businesses. Almost two-thirds (60 percent) of firms said they are building or planning a TCoE.
At Sogeti we see TCoEs as fundamental to how modern businesses maximise IT resources and instil best practices, tools and methodologies to keep pace with business demands.
I’d like to offer ten clear business benefits that TCoEs deliver:
- Accelerating speed to market
Many firms centralise QA to reduce time-to-market. It’s the primary reason for TCoE implementation for 36 percent of respondents in our report. In an unpredictable global economy, business are focused on producing better products faster, and time-to-market has become essential in gaining or maintaining competitive edge while maximising profits.
As a result, development cycles are being squeezed, and testing teams have to do more with less. A TCoE offers the opportunity to meet these challenges head on. On average, we have achieved reduced test times of 30 percent or more.
- Cutting costs
Bringing down the cost of testing was identified as a priority by just over a quarter (27 percent) of organisations in our report. Continuing market unpredictability means that organisations cannot afford to reduce their effort in QA cost efficiency, with some aiming to shave as much as 40 percent off their current testing budgets.
Centralising testing tools and resources can eliminate redundancy and lead to tremendous savings in resource utilisation, as well as software procurement, setup and maintenance costs. Typical resource cost reduction is around 35 percent over three years.
- Enabling innovation
TCoEs enable businesses to focus their QA effort on innovation in order to prepare for an eventual upturn in the global economy. An increasingly competitive landscape, fuelled by growing customer demands, is intensifying this pressure on smarter application development.
Customers today expect to access services and purchase products whenever they want, on whatever device they choose. This is particularly true of the mobile sector in which expectations are already well advanced and will increase most rapidly over time.
- Increasing agility
A QA team that manages and scales resources can respond better to new business challenges by focusing on high priority projects. To stay successful and competitive, businesses need software systems that are efficient, reliable and capable of supporting complex composite business processes. It’s vital to quickly deliver applications that support new technologies, run new functionality, and take advantage of new opportunities. Traditional project-level Quality Assurance (QA) practices can no longer provide the momentum and efficiency required to keep pace with such change.
- Improving quality
The TCoE model delivers measurable improvements in application software quality, reduced risk of failure, greater visibility of QA processes, and a better customer experience.
Without a TCoE defects and performance issues can go undetected until after an application is deployed into production, causing disruptions and negatively impacting the business. Moving towards a standards-based approach can quickly bring positive ROI.
- Enhancing flexibility
Managing a flexible pool of available resources, both internal and external, ensures high levels of quality across applications before deployment and during production. A TCoE can deliver flexible resource pools that can ramp up and down with the changing needs of the company. Our research shows that the majority of organisations (51 percent) still run testing as an in-house function, and only 13 percent have moved to a service fully managed by an external provider.
- Centralising resources
Despite the term ‘centre’ of excellence, an organisation doesn’t have to change its structure to physically centralise its QA operations. Co-locating development, product and testing teams, can be an advantage, but a virtual TCoE can frequently be the best solution.
A TCoE establishes and shares the best practices and reusability of tools and resources, and reduces piecemeal tools and incompatible platforms. By standardising on industry-leading testing solutions, a TCoE enables consistency and repeatability. With a TCoE a test automation team can take charge of establishing standards and processes for automation, set automation goals and analyse results.
We found that close to 70 percent of organisations still rely on decentralised testing, while more than a quarter (27 percent) of organisations describe their testing function as “highly decentralised”. This suggests that without a TCoE, many companies continue to perform QA as siloed projects with minimal opportunity for standardisation and sharing of best practices across the enterprise.
- Building a culture of industrialisation
Organisations are turning to TCoEs to consolidate QA operations in response to market pressures, technology demands, and emerging models of testing delivery. As such TCOEs are undoubtedly an efficient approach to industrialising testing activity. They act as virtual command centres that use a standardised testing methodology, best practices, automation, metrics, and tools. A TCoE establishes the transition from project-based testing to standardised processes.
- Maximising skillsets
Performing repetitive manual testing activities with scarce IT resources is inefficient and can aggravate tensions between IT staff and the wider business. Assigning people to tasks outside of their core strengths will cause talent pools to dwindle.
TCoEs can use all available in-house capabilities and knowledge, providing additional personnel training and development, as well as outside product and process expertise, when necessary. This can also provide compelling new career opportunities, increase job satisfaction and help recruit and retain top talent.
- Providing public sector advantage
Public organisations are helping to lead the way in TCoE adoption. With tighter budgets being implemented by many governments, public bodies are being asked to do more with less, while maintaining service levels and quality. An onshore TCOE is also a compelling model for countries where offshoring is a political anathema.
At Sogeti we’ve supported clients in setting up and running TCoEs for many years, and I feel that it’s about how you best use people, process and technology to implement a TCoE that suits your business and its pace, from assessing readiness and TCoE design, through to implementation of best practices, training and automation.
Posted by James Alevizos, VP, Test Centre of Excellence, Sogeti UK