Obstacles in Software Development With Agile Production
The past few years have seen some very dramatic and eye-opening changes in software development. The retail industry, in particular, has seen explosive growth in recent years, as retailers look for new ways to connect with their customers: mobile apps, geo-targeted campaigns, and more. We've fully redefined what it means to be fast in product development and deployment, as well as the skills and tools required to be successful in the space.
Take agile software development: Agile software development methods were introduced less than a decade ago, but their popularity has seen a steady rise. However, according to Zephyr’s annual “How the World Tests” report, while a large number of companies are adopting agile testing methodologies, they face a fair number of obstacles in successful adoption. Here, we’ll cover the key findings of that report and what they mean for those looking to improve software development in the retail industry.
Automation is What Ails You
As we know, the beauty and pain of agile development is the timeline. Relying on two- to three-week sprint cycles means little to no room for human error. By the time it comes to testing, developers are facing only three or so business days to configure and write test cases. That often leaves a small one- or two-day window to fix, retest and go live. That's a very short time frame to do a lot of work. These timelines often lead to developers looking for ways to automate testing processes. A lack of automation, or not enough time to run all the testing required, can create a huge barrier to agile adoption for many companies, regardless of size.
Larger, enterprise-level companies have a much higher percentage of automated testing in place when compared to smaller companies. Smaller organizations likely subscribe to the “shipped is better than perfect” methodology. If you’re a startup or small company, you simply don’t have the time or the money to invest in automation — you're laser focused on getting the project completed, out the door, and into the hands of your customers.
According to our research, while 70 percent of smaller companies follow an agile methodology, only 30 percent use automated testing in deployments frequently. They lack the resources in terms of staffing or money, or they suffer from a lack of a defined development and testing process. Regardless of the why, smaller companies need access to both the training and solutions for real-time, automated test management to improve their products and enhance the customer experience. In a highly competitive industry such as retail, a positive customer experience can be the difference between a sale for you and a sale for your competitor.
The Devil You Know
Without a team experienced in automated testing, it can be very hard to determine a threshold of what can be automated vs. what can be manually tested. This often creates a decision roadblock. And as with any decision roadblock, most choose to travel the path they know, rather than take a chance on the path they don’t. In this case, from small to enterprise-level companies, 13 percent of our respondents claim to struggle with what to automate and what to manually test, creating roadblocks to automation deployment. They choose the devil they know (manual testing), rather than the one they don’t (automation), even though manual testing is likely less efficient and actually adding time to deployments. This slows your ability to provide customers with the information and experiences they need.
Companies everywhere are looking for the best ways to speed up delivery and deployment of their products. This is particularly true in retail, where competition is fierce. Even though agile processes are one of the best methods to do so, the adoption of these processes is far from easy. Automated testing solutions can help make that transition a little easier, but there are barriers. The training and resources required to overcome those barriers to automation are worth the investment. Each of these points clearly requires a C-level, top-down understanding of the impact of adopting agile production without a successful automation partner and what it can mean to an organization and its long-term success.
Hamesh Chawla is the vice president of engineering of Zephyr, a provider of real-time test management solutions.