An Efficient Release Made is a Penny Earned

Posted by Greg Sypolt in AgileBest PracticesGuest Blog Posts

Introduction

Everyone wants to save money and deliver faster, right? Even so, you would be surprised how many software development organizations still do not practice continuous integration. They still depend heavily on expensive manual testing. Is your software development organization ready to change, to deliver faster with built-in quality and fewer meetings to boost productivity? Without analysis, it is hard to realize the ROI (return on investment) for CI (continuous integration) and automated tests. Like any type of change, it requires analysis of investment cost, the timeline, and ROI before it’s adopted into your development organization.

Building In Quality

There is one common trend in software development organization — ‘building quality in’ at the beginning rather than considering quality at the end of the process. EVERYONE owns quality — yes, even the product designers and developers. Everyone has visibility for all types of tests upfront (unit, integration, e2e, and manual). Why should engineers and designers be involved? They help us understand what is possible at the unit, business, and front-end layers. By having everyone involved, the team can ALL agree on the acceptance criteria. By including the developers and designers in your test strategy, everyone owns quality. You are there to drive that quality — not just be a tester. Engineers are testers. Designers are testers. Everyone can contribute!

Building quality in will prevent bugs rather than lead to the discovery of bugs at the end of the development cycle. The effect of building quality in therefore raises your ROI, and here’s how:

  • Built-in quality, reducing the number of bugs — since you are now preventing bugs, not just finding them.
  • Reduced manual testing, because testing has become automated, and most importantly, you’ve developed the right tests.
  • Quicker and more confident releases
  • Stabilized product that may give product management a chance to breathe and redefine the product strategy.
  • It is more fun for developers to work on a system that behaves predictably, doesn’t break anytime anyone touches it (and if it does break, you know immediately, not a week down the road).

Building quality in can make your system behave predictably. Slow adoption of continuous integration and automated tests makes it hard to realize ROI in this process. The most common (and hidden) cost in manual testing is finding a bug. So how do these effects translate into a dollar value? PennyEarned_v2

IBM Research presented at AccessU Summit 2015

Here are perfect examples of the potential for improvement in ROI when ‘building quality in’ after adopting CI and automated tests without immediately seeing the savings: A developer commits some bad code which breaks the build, and sometimes cripples the entire manual test for hours or days. Adopting continuous integration and automated tests will not cripple your QA teams. Manual testing takes several days to complete, along with reporting the test results. Manual testing is repetitive (and kind of boring) after performing the same tests multiple times. Human errors result from manual testing. Adopting automated tests allows testing that’s repeatable and provides testing results within minutes, instead of waiting for days or weeks for testing results.

Wasting Time in Meetings

A simple way to boost productivity is to reduce meetings and stop wasting time in meetings by creating simple guidelines. Let’s acknowledge that meetings do have a place in our development lives. They are great tools for planning, sharing information, and quickly getting everyone on the same page. Then there are those recurring meetings, often scheduled for the sake of having a meeting. At those times, it doesn’t hurt to question why you need to be present. Example: You have five employees meeting in a conference room or virtually. Let’s say the average annual salary is $55K and the company’s recurring meeting is once per week for one hour. How much does this meeting cost your company? Approximately $6,500 per year. Time spent together is not always time spent getting work done. It is important to create simple guidelines to eliminate wasteful meetings and save the company money. Here’s some suggestions to help make meetings more productive:

  • Spend more time on the agenda and allow the attendees time to review.
  • Invite the right people — Don’t waste people's time.
  • Always start the meeting on time, regardless of who may be late.
  • Avoid one-hour meetings unless they are completely necessary. You can even opt to switch that weekly one-hour meeting to a 10-15 minute stand-up meeting.
  • End the meeting at the agreed-upon time, even if the agenda is not finished.
  • Table any discussion that is not relevant to the agenda.

Conclusion

By following some of these suggested guidelines, reducing the number of meetings, and working smarter, your company will start to see real ROI. An efficient release made is a penny earned. Greg Sypolt (@gregsypolt) is a senior engineer at Gannett and co-founder of Quality Element. He is a passionate automation engineer seeking to optimize software development quality, coaching team members how to write great automation scripts, and helping testing community become better testers. Greg has spent most of his career working on software quality - concentrating on web browsers, APIs, and mobile. For the past 5 years he has focused on the creation and deployment of automated test strategies, frameworks, tools, and platforms.

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