IT leaders are facing an interesting dilemma. Due to the impact on businesses from COVID-19, there has been a noticeable increase in the ongoing urgency for digital transformation. Technology priorities have shifted at 95 percent of organisations as a result of the pandemic, with 88 percent reporting that digital customer experience is now their primary focus.[1]

At the same time, however, IT budgets are shrinking, with analysts quoting reductions of between 5.2 and 9.5 percent.[2] It’s well known that speeding innovation typically increases costs but, in the current climate, businesses are being expected to do more, faster, and with fewer resources.

While there’s no easy solution to this dilemma, some forward-thinking companies are tapping into an oft-overlooked way of reducing one of their biggest IT spends while, at the same time, improving efficiency by eliminating the top application delivery bottleneck.

Often flying beneath the radar of IT leaders, software testing can be costly – both financial and in terms of resource. Tackling it can, therefore, prove to be a powerful catalyst for an organisation’s digital transformation, and allow them to achieve some impressive results.

Slow and costly

Software testing has been recognised as the number one source of application delivery delays for the last two years. According to the GitLab DevSecOps report[3], which surveyed over 3,000 IT professionals, testing is considered more of a bottleneck that planning a release, implementing the code, and then peer reviewing it.

It’s expensive too. According to Capgemini[4], testing has consumed an average of between 25 and 35 percent of overall IT spend, accounting for an incredible $30 to $40bn in overall IT enterprise spend over the past five years. By way of illustration, here are some examples of testing costs per year for specific projects at Global 2000 organisations:

  • $7.5m – cost to test 22 applications at a $40bn retailer (53% automation)
  • $25m – cost to test 12 applications at a $22bn bank (2% automation)
  • $1.3m – cost to test a single application at a $19bn healthcare provider (0% automation)

When you consider that most IT departments will have hundreds of projects and thousands of applications to test, it’s easy to see just how quickly these costs can add up, eating up a significant portion of the IT budget.

There are many reasons why software testing is so slow and costly. The biggest of these include a resistance to change traditional, deep-seated manual – and often outsourced – processes; complex enterprise apps, often beyond the scope of most test automation tools; and the challenge of creating and maintaining resilient automation for constantly evolving applications.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Transforming their software testing can allow these companies to achieve and average 59 percent cost savings, an increase their speed to market by an average of 25 percent.

Savings and transformations

In addition to cost and efficiency issues, IT leaders are also likely to be interested in how testing can impede specific digital transformation initiatives and how, by fixing it, they’re able to pivot from obstacle to opportunity.

Consider the example of one of America’s leading insurance providers. A Fortune 100 organisation, over a century old, it recently prioritised far-reaching digital transformation initiatives in an effort to propel itself forward.

The company began by asking Gartner to analyse the state of its core IT programmes, from which it learned that the cost of quality was far higher than its industry peers. Sensing a chance to unlock budget, its IT leaders outlined a strategy for reducing the cost of quality across its portfolio of 2,500 applications.

Optimising and automating the core test suites for the applications which historically required the largest amount of testing effort maximised their ability to generate savings as quickly as possible. Following this, they then prioritised the remaining applications, gained the support of the application owners, and expanded adoption in a series of three-month waves. Furthermore, implementing automation enabled them to reduce their testing headcount – and associated costs – by approximately 300 percent.

During the first year of the programme, they were able to reduce costs by 29 percent, exceeding their target by 150 percent. Nearly $20m was saved from the company’s annual testing budget and reallocated toward digital transformation initiatives – all without compromising time-to-market or quality. In fact, the primary objective of transforming testing was to save on costs, it also achieved the positive side-effect of improving speed and quality.

New approach

Similar rewards are available to any company that chooses to transform its software testing. Industry benchmarks suggest that, by optimising its testing process, an organisation can expect 10x faster speed and 50 percent cost savings.

A change of approach, and of mindset is required. It involves ramping up test automation across all of a company’s teams and technologies, for example, as well as aligning the testing’s focus with its top risks and business objectives, and breaking down information silos across its disparate quality processes, tools, and contributors.

In today’s current climate, and faced with the dilemma of having to deliver more, faster, for less money, transforming testing would appear to be a change of approach most IT leaders would consider worth making.

[1] Agents of Transformation Report 2020, AppDynamics, May 2020.

[2] Top 2020 IT priorities hold fast amid COVID-19; spending takes hit, by Craig Stedman, SearchCIO, May 2020.

[3]  Mapping the DevSecOps Landscape, GitLab, May 2020.

[4] World Quality Report 2019-20 Top software testing trends for CIOs, Capgemini-Sogeti, October 2019.