How are your cloud migration plans coming along? If you’re feeling a mixture of excitement and dread, you’re not alone. Most of the IT leaders we speak to are caught between those same two emotions – perhaps with some fatigue too, depending on how many years they’ve been migrating their business systems to the cloud.
It’s completely understandable to feel that way. After all, the benefits of migrating to the cloud are many – but so too are the pressures. As the IT leader in your business, you have overall responsibility for planning which elements of the business to migrate and when, ensuring BAU can continue during the process, and maintaining a strong security posture to protect your systems as you migrate. And, of course, then there’s actually making sure that all your systems work properly once migrated, so that employees can continue to do their jobs and the business can continue to function.
When we speak to IT leaders, a major concern they often have about the cloud is the lack of control they feel it can bring when it comes to ensuring the stability and functionality of their software. This feeling comes from two critical differences between an on-premise and a cloud deployment of your systems:
Moving from an on-premise to a cloud deployment will remove many of the customizations unique to your business. You can’t choose whether or not this happens; all you can do is work out how to adapt your business processes, perhaps using third-party integrations to mimic some of your old customizations, to fill the gap.
Your organization no longer decides when and how to take updates from your software provider. They choose when and how frequently you get updates. And for nearly every business we speak to, that means the frequency of updates is rising rapidly.
Of course, if you’re implementing third-party apps to keep the business running, those will all require updates too – so, really, the headline story is that software updates to your key applications are coming thick and fast. Which of course means that the amount of software testing your team has to do is also increasing – especially user acceptance testing, or UAT.
We’re calling out UAT in particular because it’s one of the most vital testing procedures when it comes to app updates, because it goes beyond functional testing (‘does this button do what it’s supposed to’) to make sure that the processes your business relies on to function are supported by the updated software (‘can I still do my job efficiently with this app?’). Sadly, it’s also often one of the worst-run testing processes in your business, taking a long time to complete and tying up business users for that time, preventing them from getting on with their core tasks.
Put simply, increasing update frequency is likely to stretch your testing capacity, which, if your testing processes can’t keep up, will mean that updates start to go live that haven’t been fully tested. This could have several consequences:
No doubt you will remember examples from recent history of massive businesses being unable to trade because of improperly tested software updates. Those updates cost them millions in lost revenue, share price, and some organizations have been sued by their shareholders over the issue.
And don’t forget – in most of those organizations, UAT was happening – just not very well.
We should stress that it’s not the fault of anyone in your organization that UAT is such a minefield. It’s a product of manual processes, poor documentation, and operational pressures. UAT is generally conducted via email, with results recorded in spreadsheets and screenshots, and despite the attempts to impose order on that data it remains, to all intents and purposes, unstructured. In this environment, it’s difficult to keep track of test results, difficult to get business users to complete tests in the right way, and difficult to get their feedback and turn it into meaningful change requests or bug reports. It’s also very tricky to automate beyond confirming that core business tasks can still be completed, since what you’re really testing is whether these updates will work with real live humans doing their real live jobs. These issues weren’t so big back when updates came once every six months, as your testing team could take the time carefully double-checking everything, diving into feedback with business users, and so forth. But now that the cloudification of your key apps is increasing the volume of updates that need testing, the cracks are starting to appear.
It’s an industry-wide problem – but, thankfully, it’s one that has a solution.
We’re sorry for bringing this up – we know that you don’t need another headache on top of everything else that sits on your plate right now. The good news is that there are solutions out there which can help your business run UAT far more efficiently and effectively than it does right now. Adopting these solutions will enable you to handle the increased frequency of updates by increasing testing speed and gathering feedback more efficiently, so you can rest assured that your business won’t be derailed by an botched update.
If you’re ready to investigate how you can improve your UAT processes by working with someone like Original Software, visit our landing page to learn more about how we work and what we can do for you.
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