Continue the ‘Shift Left’ with Automated Testing
Overview: To meet new customer demands with constant digital innovation, you need to transform the developer experience. Learn why automated testing is critical to that effort.
The digital economy has educated customers on what good and bad experiences feel like with an increasing list of alternatives from which to choose.
Customer experience has shifted furthest to the left and now defines what your company builds. This shift has greatly reduced the time you previously had to gather and analyze requirements then design, develop, test and deliver a new product or service.
Customers know digital value when they see it, and the only viable route to enabling that is to transform your traditional business into an agile software company focused on software delivery quality, velocity and efficiency. The challenge here for large enterprises is their core source of digital value creation is often embedded in platforms like the mainframe, estimated to account for over half of business-critical workloads for 64% of enterprises using the platform.
Although businesses are leveraging the mainframe more because it offers unmatched reliability, availability and securability; the siloed culture, slow processes and antiquated tools surrounding it create constraints to continuously improving the delivery of digital experiences. Dead-end workarounds to these constraints—i.e., migrating off the mainframe or letting it languish in a silo—will only further constrain your efforts to improve in ways that your customers care about.
Therefore, it’s an unavoidable reality that you must transform the mainframe developer experience.
As I recently expressed in another blog, this means empowering developers to graduate beyond the esoteric work determined by what they know—to generating and iterating on new ideas that can quickly evolve into competitively differentiating innovations that better serve who Jeff Bezos refers to as, “always wonderfully, beautifully dissatisfied customers.”
Amidst the adoption of modern development environments, program and data visualization and agile source code management tools, automated testing remains a critical missing link to transforming the mainframe developer experience.
As development velocity increases, a natural side effect, if nothing else changes, is an increase in defects; therefore, to avoid this trade-off and maintain high quality, you have to embrace automated testing.
Manual testing is a highest-order constraint to continuously improving software delivery velocity and efficiency, as it can’t keep up with the pace of development demands or with the complexity of enterprise applications. It also becomes an open gate through which bugs escape due to human error, which not only diminishes the customer experience but also could cause you to lose a customer based on a poor digital experience.
Like customer experience, you need to shift testing left—i.e., to as early in the development process as possible—through automation, unit testing and functional testing, as well as support other approaches like Test Driven Development. This shift will enable you to truly transform the developer experience and enable your engineers to manage new ways of working with greater software delivery quality, velocity and efficiency.
That’s exactly what we’re enabling with continuous improvements to our mainframe automated testing tool, Topaz for Total Test. It gives developers the courage in velocity and the confidence in quality they need to innovate on large, complex mainframe applications.
Shift Left with Automated Unit Testing
Automating unit testing is critical to shifting testing left and shortening lifecycle times by enabling developers to find and fix low-level defects in parallel to coding. Inevitably, this earlier find-and-fix approach increases code quality and leads to greater success in subsequent testing phases.
One of our key customers, a leading UK bank, is using Topaz for Total Test to automate the creation and execution of unit tests and enable a “shift left” approach so that testing happens in conjunction with development, not after.
With Topaz for Total Test and its integration with Jenkins, the bank reduced its execution time on the mainframe from two weeks to just five minutes by eliminating manual efforts and the collateral wait times. “We’re innovating faster on the mainframe than we are in our digital channels,” they said.
Thanks to Topaz for Total Test and the rest of the Topaz suite, our customer has seen where “a typical project used to take anywhere from six to nine months, but we’re now hitting a stride where we can deliver in a third of that time.”
“Over a 12-month period, the adoption of Topaz has increased flow by 400% on the mainframe, while virtually eliminating defect leakage, saving on rework and test timescales.”
Test Driven Development with Automated Functional Testing
If you only automate unit testing, you still leave subsequent testing constraints in the delivery pipeline. That’s why test automation must also extend to functional testing—which developers are taking more responsibility for today—as well as integration testing and regression testing.
We’ve enhanced Topaz for Total Test to automate these other testing phases as well. With our most recent quarterly launch of innovations, new automated functional testing in a web browser simplifies the process, and support for Test Driven Development enables developers and testers to design test cases up front based on program specifications before developing a program.
Read the press release to learn what else we’ve built into Topaz for Total Test to help you transform the developer experience so they can spend more time generating new ideas and less time on repetitive tasks.
There’s No Place like Topaz
When it comes to transforming the developer experience, you need to get the right tools in place to analyze, edit, build, test, debug and deploy code on the mainframe with the same agility as other platforms, all from one place—and there’s no place like Topaz. Take it from our customer:
“The significance of what we’ve achieved by bringing DevOps to the mainframe in just two short years is amazing. It simply wouldn’t have been possible without Compuware, which has become more like a partner than a vendor.”
Now that is what it looks like to transform the mainframe developer experience—and by extension, the customer experience.
This post originally appeared on LinkedIn.