More Y2K in UK: Disturbing issues raised by new survey on state of software testing in UK.greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread
Lack of software testing poses serious threat to business continuity
Thousands of UK companies risk major IT failures
London, England, UK September 29, 1999 For immediate release: Although many UK businesses have learned about checking their IT systems to eradicate the Millennium Bug or to ensure euro currency compliance, important new research suggests that many business-critical software applications risk failure because they have not been tested rigorously enough or not at all.
This issue and other key findings are revealed in a survey, the results of which are published today by Mercury Interactive, the world leader in developing and supplying automated software testing tools. Entitled 'The State of Software Testing in the UK', the survey was commissioned by the company and conducted by Benchmark Research, a respected market research-based UK consultancy.
"At a business as well as technical level the survey substantiates the case that automated testing of software and systems is no longer an option but an imperative," says Andy Crosby, European Field Market Manager, Mercury Interactive (UK) Limited. There are several reasons for this claim, he says. IT is increasingly making the difference between success and failure of a business. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) are just two areas in which IT has made huge inroads, and E-Business is increasing companies' reliance on IT still further.
For example, he explains, when companies' web applications are revenue-generating 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, any down-time can mean lost business and - if a company's entire sales operation is based completely on E-trading - even total business failure may occur.
Ensuring that new software works right first time, works as it was intended to and works whatever the workload, is therefore of vital importance. To achieve these aims, software testing, and automated software testing in particular, is becoming essential for organisations in every critical IT application, including health-care, public utilities, government at all levels, financial services, manufacturing, retail and other sectors.
Alarming statistics The survey carried out by Benchmark Research for Mercury Interactive suggests that, despite wide recognition of the need to test business-critical software applications, four out of every ten UK businesses in the survey sample do not plan to test their IT projects before they are launched. More than one in five new E-Business, enterprise resource planning (ERP), financial, and custom client/server systems could be launched without testing.
The survey confirms that E-Business is the fastest growing area of new investment in IT systems - almost a quarter of businesses are investing in new web systems. But a fifth of these will not be tested before deployment, indicating widespread ignorance of the potential impact of IT failures in E-Business.
Almost nine out of ten businesses (88%) rely upon IT-based financial systems, two-thirds use custom client/server systems, and more than a third have E-Business systems in place. With the year 2000 fast approaching, 80% of the sample were checking their Y2K compliance.
Financial systems (80%) and custom client/server (61%) were the areas most likely to have been tested. Looking forward, three out of five businesses plan to test their IT systems - leaving 40% who may not. Focusing on particular applications, the survey found that large minorities were prepared to launch their systems without testing.
An independent view from Ovum Commenting on the findings, senior analyst Graham Titterington from Ovum, an independent and international research and consulting firm that advises on IT and telecoms, says: "Mercury Interactive's survey has quantified many of the trends that we have observed.
"Attitudes towards testing, and in particular towards automated testing are improving. Yet, although testing is the only way to ensure that software applications will deliver the service required, two out of five respondents fail to realise the value of testing, preferring to put blind faith in their developers, despite past experiences.
"Testing is particularly vital for successful E-Business applications because of their immediate and universal availability when released. There is no human intervention in the trading loop to do sanity checks. Yet 22% of respondents don't intend to test applications before deployment. This must change as more companies get into serious E-Business. The survey indicates a lack of understanding of what E-Business can do, and of the potential damage that IT failures in E-Business can do to the organisation."
Mercury Interactive's Andy Crosby sums up: "In a world where software and systems are becoming more complex every day, especially in E-Business scenarios, manual testing is no longer an option because it is too slow, labour-intensive, costly and prone to errors.
"Management, at the IT level and right through to the chief executive, should ensure that the testing of their organisation's software assets is an active item on the business agenda," he says. "To ignore the messages in this survey may be likened to failing to implement an adequate insurance policy against fire and flood, but in this case it is a crucial policy that applies to IT and the major risk of system and business failure."
Summary of principal findings
Despite wide recognition of the need to test business-critical software applications, 40% of respondents said they did not plan to test their IT projects
Anecdotal evidence suggests that more than one in five new E-Business, enterprise resource planning (ERP), financial, and custom client/server systems could be launched without testing
E-Business is the fastest growing area of new investment in IT systems - almost a quarter of businesses are investing in E-Business systems - but a fifth of these will not be tested before deployment, indicating ignorance of the potential impact of IT failures in E-Business
Industry analysts suggest testing might take up to a quarter of an IT project's budget, yet 41% of businesses devote less than 5% to testing (32% did not know their testing budgets)
Four out of every five organisations had year 2000 (Y2K) and euro compliance projects in progress
Risk reduction and ensuring that a system works right first time are the most frequently identified benefits of testing
Automated testing solutions are seen to deliver additional benefits. Speed of implementation emerged as the main benefit, along with the ability to test more scenarios
Purchase decisions about testing software and systems tend to be made by IT managers and IT directors
Buyers wanted suppliers to demonstrate the benefits of automated testing (eg: works first time, on-time delivery, shorter implementation, and a good financial return on investment)
The most important criterion used to select an automated testing solution supplier is a proven track record.
-- Boris (MSIS@cyberdude.com), October 18, 1999