Business Process Management (BPM) platforms are an increasingly important component in today’s technology savvy enterprises. BPM provides a mechanism for orchestrating, automating and tracking core processes across an organization. This allows enterprises to optimize the way they operate. Efficient implementation of BPM strategies approach challenges from a business focused perspective while coupling together multiple back end technical capabilities to create optimal technology enablers for end users.
Companies invested in using BPM as a strategic platform are facing challenges ensuring code quality at a reasonable cost. The agile nature of BPM platforms encourages frequent releases, but testing challenges introduce huge costs, both time and resources, to ensure consistent high quality.
A testing strategy that includes test automation is a key capability that should be leveraged but it requires additional tools and capabilities to implement effectively. Complex environments that rely on multiple technologies working in a very tightly coupled fashion make this a very critical factor in program success. Typical BPM programs involve multiple supporting technologies (Master Data Management sources, Data Warehouses, External sources, Security, etc.). This complexity amplifies why a good test strategy is so critical to effectively implementing a BPM platform.
In order to justify the initial investment required it is important to focus on the expected ROI. There are three types of benefits that can be achieved by effectively implementing a testing strategy:
- Reputation benefits
- Cost benefits
- Reporting benefits
The reputational benefits are the most subjective of the three categories but arguably they are the most important. End users (business users and customers) will be shielded from defects. Comprehensive coverage and execution of tests ensures that quality is thoroughly tested before software is released to end users. This leads to increased confidence in IT capabilities and enhances the appetite for more agile development. The complexity of BPM environments mentioned earlier increases the risk of defects and the associated reputational risk. This can be mitigated by a good test strategy.
The cost benefits are the easiest to highlight when selling the initial investment required. Early identification of defects and resolution in development environments reduces the cost of fixes. Blanket coverage prevents costly defects from being released in Production environments. Significant cost savings are associated with eliminating the need for bug fixes, system downtime and inconsistent or erroneous behavior in production. Test automation leads to shorter regression test cycles improving the speed of releases to production and the overall cost of testing.
The reputational and cost benefits can be clearly highlighted with accurate, scheduled and end user focused reporting mechanisms. This is key to highlighting the benefits and justifying the initial investments required to set up a comprehensive BPM test strategy. Reporting at various levels ensures that the correct information is presented to the correct audience at the correct time. Dashboard reporting for Executives and business sponsors, Program Managers, QA architects, Business SMEs and developers provide customized insights into the current state of the application. Tracking the progress and providing SLAs with appropriate escalations ensures that the required actions are taken in a timely manner.
Effective testing strategies, processes and skilled resources can provide tremendous benefits providing predictable and comprehensive coverage, increased confidence in code quality, active reporting, shorter time requirements for regression tests and elimination of costly bugs in production. With the growing importance of BPM platforms within large enterprises this is an area that deserves significant focus.