I wonder how many people would agree with the statement that ‘testing is more important than it used to be.’ There are very few people in the payments industry who would argue against the value of testing but there is good reason to put more consideration
into how you test new technology and migrations.
Up to now, testing has almost always been a necessity undertaken at the end of a project. Decision makers and leaders want their test teams to give them the ‘thumbs up’, and the reassurance that the new technology works and is ready to go. Yet with the industry’s
rapid evolution, we need to reconsider the role of testing and our approach to it. Put simply, testing is definitely more important than ever before and people need a new perspective. Here is why.
Complexity in launch and migration
Modern payment systems are increasingly complex. They have evolved to contain more interdependencies, which all need to be tested in different combinations, and must still be resilient should one of their components fail.
We all want to increase the safety, speed and efficiency of transactions. The fundamental problem however is the transition from the legacy systems to new technology. I’m sure many appreciate the complexity involved but the problem is that without scrapping
what they already have and building on new foundations it is hard to adopt the changes they want quickly. As a result, the deadlines for implementation keep getting moved back which can only increase project costs.
Consumers and disruptors
Consumers are now less tolerant and will no longer put up with poor quality products and services. They are also better able to change allegiance quickly and more easily than ever before, which puts pressure on the established players to improve their offer.
To make matters worse, disruptors everywhere are feeding on this dissatisfaction and focusing on the most profitable areas of the banking industry.
According to KPMG, the average level of global investment in the fintech sector has been running at $6bn per year since 2011, reaching a peak in 2015 of $14.5bn. Global VC interest in fintech companies remains high, but recently investors have begun to hold
back on making major investments amid ongoing uncertainty in the global economy. Even so, the sector is well enough financed to revolutionise the market and provide it with new bespoke services.
Changes in Management process
Since the late 1970s, the computing industry has relied on waterfall development patterns to provide the structure around which software is created and deployed. This linear approach to project management provided a robust framework in which each element
in the sequence largely depended upon the completion of the one before. This dictated a testing approach that has persisted perhaps longer than it should have.
As the computing industry evolved, driven by the demands on development teams born out of aggressive commercial change across all industries, waterfall has been superseded. Instead, the computing industry began to use Agile, DevOps and Continuous development.
All well and good but these new ways of working have massively increased the number of releases and code drops, and this now necessitates a new way of testing.
The increase in regulation means there is a constant and evolving cycle of mandatory changes. As this increases, it is more important to create an easily accessible audit trail to document what has changed and why the change was necessary. With the seismic
shift in the political landscape as a result of Brexit and the election of President Trump, it’s increasingly likely that more changes are on the way.
This makes compliance testing critical.
According to Hootsuite, the social media specialists, 2.8 billion people were using social media at the end of 2016, up 21% from 2015. In the past, news of a problem within an organisation would be distributed via the broadcast media, but is now first made
public through social media, which accelerates and compounds the impact of failure, and allows people to make jokes and disparaging remarks. Quite simply, the effect on a brand can be catastrophic.
Too many organisations focus on proving that software works, and yet the focus should be on trying to break it. It’s too easy to be self-satisfied right up to the point that Twitter goes into meltdown because your customers can’t get at their money. Modern
day testing tries therefore to identify the weaknesses in the systems under test. When it is clear that they are problem free, the test is complete.
What should we do about it?
Within your organisation, you’ll be able to identify which of these factors have the largest impact according to your own unique set of circumstances and experience. As the payment ecosystem evolves then so should the process that companies employ for testing
new releases. The answer isn’t to throw more people at the problem. The law of diminishing returns governs manual software testing in the same way that it rules so many people-dependent functions. The future has to be automation, and platforms that drive and
enable this fundamental change in approach.
Too often, adding people simply adds confusion, cost, inefficiency and management overheads, and rarely achieves the intended results. The effects of getting testing wrong are now greater, so the approach to it needs to change. The costs of adopting new
test platforms and techniques will always be lower than the cost of a single significant system outage.