Optimus Prime, Digital Transformation, and Smart Testing

Everybody knows what a Transformer is. The concept of a sentient vehicle changing into an even more powerful robot has captured the attention of moviegoers for two decades and Transformer toys have kept their owners quite entertained – possibly more than the films themselves – since the 1980s.

So, the sci-fi idea of the Transformer, a digitally controlled physical transformation, pre-dated the IT or business term “digital transformation” by decades! Of course, organizations have been digitally transforming their businesses and operations since the introduction of the microprocessor, but I suspect it took a unique movie franchise launched in 2007 to (pardon the term) transform “transformation” into a ubiquitous phrase.

Today, digital transformation is a universal initiative that all companies claim to embrace – whether they do so or not.

Transformation is disruption done right

True transformation may disrupt established systems, solutions and business processes, but it most definitely disrupts users. In 1999, I re-engineered an AS/400 green-screen business application to a web-based solution that streamlined steps, keystrokes and process throughput. IT management loved it, but the users, who had only operated dumb terminal applications, did not even know what a mouse and a web browser was! Clearly, some new hardware and a lot of training was needed to bring these employees into the age of the thin-client application.

At this point, it seems as if large and small companies alike are being force-fed transformational initiatives by their key software vendors. Both SAP and Oracle are pushing ERP customers to migrate to their pure cloud solutions. Even those staying with on-premise ERP platforms are upgrading to newly introduced versions that have transformed many of their standard processes.

For example, SAP has deprecated over 11,000 standard ECC6 transactions in their new S/4HANA platform. Imagine the disruption introduced by finding out that key business processes have been impacted by deprecated components with no replacement. ERP-based processes are also moving from older, thick-client interfaces to more flexible web-based alternatives. Even Salesforce.com has transformed its user interface – introducing a radically new look and feel to its user community.

How to avoid becoming a Decepticon

Users are always impacted by any transformational initiatives that, in turn, affect the entire business. So, they must be the ones who validate and confirm that re-engineered processes and interfaces work as designed. And this requires manual testing. 

If we look at my 1999 example, process mining of the legacy AS/400 application and its browser-based replacement would have identified zero changes under the hood, as the underlying data elements and procedures remained untouched. But if the new web interface did not present the right data at the right time, then the application would totally fail in production. Test automation designed for a thick-client solution cannot be repurposed for a thin-client replacement without manual confirmation that everything is working as designed.

Like it or not, key stakeholders must manually review transformed applications, step by step and screen by screen, to ensure you are not about to release a “Decepticon” upon the world.

Therefore, an effective manual test platform is needed to streamline what can otherwise become a time-consuming bottleneck for business stakeholders.  SaaS simplicity, ease of use, and testing accelerators that automate time-intensive activities can make the manual testing experience one that business users enjoy and use effectively. This leads to faster and more successful outcomes, as well as identification of issues in the SDLC cycle before they lead to nasty post go-live surprises.

If your transformational initiatives are keeping you up at night, don’t just watch a Transformers movie for inspiration. Take a look at https://www.panaya.com/testing/ and see how Panaya’s manual testing platform is “more than meets the eye,” resonating with business and IT alike by accelerating test activities, optimizing testing scope and reducing the use of resources. It is at the heart of faster and error-free business process transformations – and it’s coming to an IT theater near you!

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