Digital meltdown PDF Print E-mail
Software must be thoroughly tested prior to implementation in a production environment, says Niran Munsami, head of Project Services at Software Testing Solutions.

The media over the past week has been plagued with reports pertaining to South African banking, after core banking services went offline due to system related changes.

The subject has also been one that has been the highlight of many discussions within the South African ICT industry, particularly in terms of the causality of such failures and the effectiveness of the implementation of underlying processes within IT organisations that are geared towards mitigating such risks.

It is evident that businesses as well as consumers are heavily reliant on technology, and breakdown in service delivery as experienced with core banking solutions, telecommunications and government platforms such as eNaTIS carry unacceptable impact to both the software user base as well as the manufacturer of the software – a “digital meltdown”.

So, what are the solutions and more importantly, how do large IT organisations prevent a “digital meltdown”? To understand the solution and mitigating actions, it is necessary to explore the various dimensions of software development and fully understand all of the potential risks that come into play.

Historically, and what I often refer to as the “medieval times” of IT, organisations were focused on building capability to deploy new technologies quickly into the market. Essentially, organisations maintained competitive edge and market share by focusing on optimising the mark to market timeline. This approach is very common in the industry and has worked well for many organisations in the past.

However, with a new dawn where customers and businesses are more reliant on technology, it is fast becoming an outdated approach that is the single cause of poorly developed software, failing IT projects and unsatisfied key stakeholders. The modern-day risks of poorly developed systems impact both the software user base and the manufacturer. The major risks and often the most common are monetary loss, reputational risk and the cost of rework.

Failures and defects could potentially create monetary loss where business and financial income comes to a grinding halt. In most cases, this is often an opportunity cost rather than an actual cost. The reputational risk that arises from defective software and failures are never welcomed by large IT organisations, and to a large extent, impacts market share, competitive edge, and ultimately, profit margins. The cost of rework is another risk that is borne by IT organisations, whereby skilled resources are required to fix defects.

Industry studies have revealed that it can cost up to 70% more to fix a defect that is identified in a production environment as compared to a defect detected during the development process. With all of these key factors in mind, a new business driver from an IT perspective is born – software quality assurance.

It is now more critical than ever that IT organisations develop systems that not only offer clients the best technology, but satisfies all expectations, are fully functional and built to last.

The element of quality consciousness and becoming what I often call a software quality orientated organisation that has the capability of forecasting risk and developing the necessary actions to mitigate these risks, is a critical success factor for all IT organisations. The dynamics of software quality assurance is complex; however, Software Testing Solutions (STS) has made it their mission to create a new world in terms of software development that is driven towards producing software that is of high quality by making use of innovative frameworks that merge the principles of software quality with development and business objectives. The critical success factors highlighted by ongoing research within STS are as follows:

  • Software quality assurance maturity must be benchmarked across the organisation and the necessary optimisations must be applied to make the transition to a software quality orientated organisation.
  • Quality governance criteria must be established and well integrated into the overall project governance strategy. Quality must be built-in at all stages of the development life cycle.
  • Software must be thoroughly tested prior to implementation into a production environment. The test effort must be disciplined, must validate system functionality and the ability of both software and underlying hardware to scale to expected volumes.

High profile cases that have been brought into the public eye via the media often, as unbearable as the impact is on both users and IT organisations, do provide us with valuable information in terms of required improvements.

Software quality assurance is an important market driver and the only way to prevent what we can only describe as a “digital meltdown”. STS is a leading market maker in terms software quality assurance with quality centric services. These services provide IT organisations with the ability to prevent the “digital meltdown” by forecasting risk and implementing the necessary mitigating actions. The fundamental concept is to have the ability to assure quality and reduce unnecessary impact.

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