Five Tips to Avoid Test Slippage

    Poor test environment management is often the common denominator when testing on large-scale projects or program slips from the test schedule. This is normally one of the high percentage root causes of slippage among the other usual causes, such as bad requirements, overly buggy code and resource constraints.

    As organizations mature, their IT application suites grow, increasing integration points and data complexity. This always introduces end-to-end knowledge gaps around dependencies in both setting up and managing test environments. Here are five ways, identified by Sean Hamawi, product director at Plutora, that test environment managers can refine their processes to minimize environment down-time and improve their working relationships with test teams.

    Five Tips to Avoid Test Slippage - slide 1

    Click through for ways managers can refine their testing processes to minimize environment down-time and improve their working relationships with test teams, as identified by Sean Hamawi, product director at Plutora.

    Five Tips to Avoid Test Slippage - slide 2

    Reviewing the process to see what is working and what is not is very important. A simple approach is to do a review of a recently implemented project and look at how many of your existing TEMS processes were followed. You may be surprised by how low the number will be. There is no harm in version controlling your TEMS processes and constantly making improvements and sharing the improvements with your colleagues.

    Five Tips to Avoid Test Slippage - slide 3

    In most enterprises, the testing teams are not the resources performing code deployments, server configs, data refreshes, etc. However, test teams do often have access to perform technical procedures like these, which introduces the risk of accidentally making unqualified changes.

    A quick fix is to implement access controls over the test environments, so that the test team and vendors can only access components relevant to performing their day-to-day job.

    Five Tips to Avoid Test Slippage - slide 4

    Lots of projects means lots of test environment logistics to manage. Competing project requirements translates into tracking which environment is pointed to which integrations, and what codesets and datasets reside at different application layers. Often spreadsheets are the tool of choice for managing all this data, which spells disaster when you have competing projects all vying to use the same test environments.

    A TEMS toolset can dramatically improve how contentions and competing requirements are managed.

    Five Tips to Avoid Test Slippage - slide 5

    Implementing a change ticketing system can easily be performed. However, Hamawi highly recommends against using a production ITSM tool to do this, as ITSM production protocols can create overhead. Manage configuration drift by properly documenting the changes made against each environment. Without an audit trail, untangling configuration drift will become time consuming and expensive.

    To understand where your organization sits in relation to the maturity of your environment change ask yourself one question, “Can I easily track what changes to environment X have been made and identify the current configuration/application version of that environment?” If the answer isn’t a definite “yes” then that likely explains why you have so many test environment issues.

    Five Tips to Avoid Test Slippage - slide 6

    No doubt about it, test environments are extremely expensive to run, especially when you have integrated environments that replicate production. You have the cost of licensing, infrastructure and resourcing. While virtualization has reduced the costs associated with infrastructure and time-to-market, the cost of application licensing and resourcing is going up.

    Regardless of whether you work in the public or private sector, getting budget to spend on new environments is often not easy. This means managers need to be more innovative and do more with current environments. Implementing ideas from this slideshow should aid in your TEMS success.

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