Why You Need to Embrace Operational Testing

2017 Top 10 ListIt’s that time of year when we see a whole raft of articles telling you the “Top 10” things you must  do next year to succeed. One thing that will probably be missing, although it really shouldn’t be, is incorporating effective operational testing into your software development & testing cycle. Believe me, operational testing it is important -it just isn’t getting the attention it deserves.

So, what is Operational Testing and why is it Important?

Let’s start with a definition. According to Techopedia:

“Operational testing refers to the evaluation of a software application prior to the production phase. Operational testing ensures system and component compliance in the application’s standard operating environment (SOE).
Operational testing is applied in a specified environment during various software development life cycle (SDLC) phases for the evaluation of software system functionality.”

Other sources also refer to Operational Testing as “Operational Acceptance Testing” and “Operational Readiness Testing”.

Regardless of the term used, note the multiple use of the word “environment”.

Conventional Functional Testing focuses on making sure the application behaves as expected when a button is pressed or a link is clicked but it doesn’t take into account the environment the app is being used in. This is a major omission because, today the great majority of apps are used over some form of public network environment that is completely out of your control (cloud, internet, mobile, wireless, satellite etc.).  Therefore, it should be a no-brainer to ensure operational testing is also conducted, otherwise you’ll be rolling out an application into a real world network environment it has never been subjected to.

Think about Your Business’s Reputation

We understand that there is pressure to shorten the SDLC, and that apparently adding another layer of testing to the process will be regarded by some as simply lengthening delivery timescales and creating more work and cost. By making your early adaptor customers, de-facto, your operational testers, however, you wind up test/fixing with them and so the delivery timescale isn’t really shortened at all. And it’s much worse than that: let’s not forget that we live in a highly connected world where users can share their experiences (good or bad) almost immediately and history has shown us that bad news travels faster than good news.  It is also true that it takes much longer to repair a damaged reputation than it does to spend a little extra time checking, in the first place, that your application, system or service will work properly once deployed.

Businesses need to “know” that their apps will work effectively over the real-world network, rather than just “hope” that they do. Therefore, you need to embrace Operational Testing as an essential part of the SDLC process and not regard it as a “nice to have” if you wish to mitigate against a failed deployment, loss of potential revenue and a damaged reputation in 2017.  So, put it on your Top 10 for 2017.

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