How To Get Better Results From Specialized IT Testing

Computer security concept with keyboard and magnifying glassDuring my recent trip to New York, I had an opportunity to meet with Yoav Ziv, Amdocs Head of Testing, to discuss current trends in Software Quality Assurance, and hear his opinion on the new challenges faced by IT leaders responsible for testing. Amdocs Testing provides services almost exclusively for the telecommunications industry, and having been an Amdocs Testing customer myself in my previous role as the Head of IT Testing for T-Mobile USA, I found his views on specialization insightful and thought provoking.

Michael: What is changing in the business of testing services?

Yoav: In the past, to save costs many companies chose to move application testing offshore. However, this lemon has been practically squeezed dry – I don’t believe that there are significant cost savings left in it. Offshoring remains a vital component, but companies need to find other ways to control costs.

Q: What do you see as the new essential elements for a successful outsourcing engagement?

Yoav: We currently see two specific trends: One is the fact that a growing number of CIOs are moving from pure offshore staff augmentation model toward an engagement with an accountable testing partner – someone who can bring their knowledge, technology, and innovation – rather than just send resources.

And a complementary trend is that more and more companies are looking for testing providers with vertical specialization. It’s no longer good enough to just have testers. In order to stay ahead of the curve and deliver testing operations efficiencies – despite the fact that offshoring has already been squeezed dry – service providers have to know the business and understand the business processes that are specific to the industry. For instance, our domain is telecommunications, so our testers need to have in-depth, intimate knowledge of billing, rating, customer creation, provisioning, etc. Plus, service providers need to be able to see what other companies in the same vertical space are doing, and inject that thought leadership into each customer project.

Q: What can you tell us about the current trends in telecommunications testing?

Yoav: If I were to pick the most notable things that are happening – especially in mature markets, one of them would be agile testing. Agile development methods are becoming increasingly popular, and that presents additional challenges when companies try to integrate acceptance testing into it.

Traditionally, testing was viewed as a separate activity from agile development. Developers may go through a number of sprints, followed by a single acceptance testing cycle. However, despite the difficulty of integrating testing into agile methods, combined with the complexity of distributed, multi-location, multi-vendor environments, we now increasingly see the need to move testing into the agile mode of working. We currently have a number of projects that are entirely agile, and customers are eager to learn about incorporating testing elements into agile development cycles.

We also see shifts in how customers approach test automation. Automation of regression testing has been generally accepted by the industry for quite some time, however we are experiencing an increased interest in automating the functional testing. At Amdocs, one of the projects we are working on is giving our customers simplified automation tools – or accelerators – to help them quickly create automation scenarios.

Q: What additional value can a specialized testing services provider bring to the table?

Yoav: The good news is that by and large, companies – especially large telecommunications service providers – now understand the value of testing. They know that quality and customer experience translate directly into revenues and profitability.

A domain-focused provider can take the company’s testing efforts to the next level by bringing their expertise, knowledge, tools and best practices to each project. To help accomplish this, it is essential that people who work on the project possess specific industry know-how, and understand the data, systems and processes that are unique to the industry.

Yoav Ziv, Amdocs Head of Testing, is a seasoned Telecom veteran with nearly 20 years of experience in a variety of roles from Development to Client Business Executive. He leads a team of thousands of testers helping the top Communications Providers around the world. This article originally appeared on the Amdocs Blog.