Disconnect between CEOs & testers puts companies at risk of software failure

As companies race toward digitisation to unlock customer value and gain a competitive advantage, software development continues to accelerate at an overwhelming rate.

This puts huge pressure on IT teams to develop and release software, often with limited resources and talent.

But a critical step in releasing new software is having effective testing capabilities in place to find and fix any errors before new software is rolled out to market. This lowers the risk of software failures and outages occurring after launch, which have the potential to negatively impact a company’s reputation, and ultimately its bottom line. The Facebook outage in October 2021 is a case in point and one of the worst outages the company has suffered in the past decade, wiping 5% off its valuation in the blink of an eye.

Disconnected data

While software outages increase in frequency, ensuring that sufficient testing occurs before software is released is now critical. Yet risks are taken and corners are cut. A recent survey Leapwork conducted in collaboration with Censuswide revealed 69% of UK CEOs think it’s acceptable to release software that hasn’t been properly tested, so long as it’s patched later. This is despite 82% of testers at those same companies saying that up to 40% of their software goes to market without sufficient testing. As a result, 68% of UK software testers claim their teams spend five to ten days per year patching software.

Despite nearly all testers expressing concern that insufficiently tested software is going to market, the overwhelming majority of CEOs told Censuswide they’re confident their software is tested regularly. 83% of UK testers think that senior management in their company appreciates the importance of software testing and the impact of non-testing, yet there is clearly a huge disconnect between CEOs and their developer teams about what is actually happening day-to-day at the coalface. This means testing issues often fall under the radar, not being escalated until it’s too late.

CEOs are aware of the risks of insufficient testing, with the overwhelming majority saying they are concerned about losing their jobs in the wake of a software failure – something we have seen in the news recently with former Volkswagen CEO, Herbert Diess. About three-quarters of testers have the same fear over their jobs. In addition, over half of UK CEOs say software failures have harmed their company’s reputation in the last five years. This is a consistent pattern regardless of which sector was surveyed, with everything from financial services to retail to manufacturing to logistics now being heavily reliant on software applications for everyday operations.

Why software isn’t tested properly?

So, if there is an acknowledgment that testing is important and a fear that failing to test software could lead to job losses, the obvious question is why is software not tested properly? This often comes down to businesses not thinking there is a viable, cost-effective option and choosing speed over stability. However, there are more specifics we can unpack.

When asked why their software wasn’t tested properly before being released, CEOs and testers in the same Censuswide survey cited a few primary reasons. The first is a reliance on manual testing, which is time and resource intensive, so therefore often skipped or rushed. This is compounded by the feeling that development cycles need to be quicker to compete in a crowded market. The next most prominent reasons were a lack of skilled developers available to conduct testing, or a lack of investment in training and development to upskill those already on the team.

Transitioning to an automated future

As more companies become reliant on software, the issues around speed and skills will only be exacerbated across sectors. There needs to be a transition from manual testing towards automation to meet the testing requirements of increasingly complex software, with businesses struggling to scale their chosen solutions and leverage existing skills across Quality Assurance departments.

However, not all automation tools are created equal. To successfully adopt and scale automation in the long-term, businesses must move away from code-based solutions that are often extremely difficult to operate and maintain, and require developer resources, which are in short supply in today’s market. On the other hand, no-code test automation platforms are easy to use and scale across an entire organization, empowering everyday business users to meaningfully contribute to the automation effort – saving time, money and investment in scarce developer resources.

When it comes to software testing, companies are cutting corners and taking unnecessary risks. What’s worse, is that there is a disconnect between upper management and those tasked with carrying out the work.

We’ve seen the implications of huge software failures in the news, so on the current trajectory, more and more companies will struggle with failures and outages which could cost them a significant amount in financial and reputational damage. Businesses need to urgently consider a different approach and embrace no-code test automation platforms that don’t require coding skills and free up their teams to focus on the most high-value tasks.

About the Author

Christian Brink Frederiksen is co-founder and CEO at Leapwork. Imagine what you could do with a green light telling you it’s safe to move forward. Leapwork helps create space for the next leap by strengthening businesses with confidence about the present and optimism for the future, wherever they want to go.

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