Environments: The ROI of TEM
Learn what TEM is, explore the fundamentals, and see its benefits in broad strokes. Also see why it's crucial to obtain the ROI of TEM.
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This post was written by and published with permission on behalf of Carlos Schults. Carlos is a consultant and software engineer with experience in desktop, web, and mobile development.
Let me start with a question: as a leader in tech, are you satisfied with the budget you have? If I had to guess, I'd say the answer is no. Because of that, calculating the return on investment of the many activities in software development is certainly an invaluable strategy. With ROI data in your hands, you can prove that a given process helps the bottom line of the organization. In this post, we'll offer you a guide about the ROI of TEM (test environment management).
We'll open the post with some fundamentals, explaining what TEM is and covering its benefits in broad strokes. With that out of the way, we'll proceed to the main part of the post. We'll explain, in more detail, why it's crucial to obtain the ROI of TEM. After that, we'll show you how you can calculate it.
Let's get started.
Test Environment Management: The Fundamentals
Before we go on explaining why you should care about the ROI of test environment management, we need to be on the same page when it comes to TEM itself.
What Is Test Environment Management?
To understand what test environment management is, you must know what a test environment is. For defining a test environment, I'll refer to another post from this blog:
"A test environment is, quite simply, the setup you have for conducting testing and quality assurance of the software that you’re building. [...] In today’s world of cloud computing and heterogeneous environments, this probably takes the form of one or more servers, containers, or even more exotic mixes.
Test environment management then simply means managing all of those environments. It's the process of ensuring the test environments in your organization are used in an efficient, safe, and compliant way. That includes ensuring the environments can be quickly provisioned and deleted when needed.
Provisioning data to the test environments is also a part of test environment management. So, TEM and TDM — test data management — are intimately linked. Because of that relationship, security and compliance are also big parts of TEM as well. You must ensure processes are compliant with the GDPR and similar legislation. For that, it's essential to adopt obfuscation techniques such as data masking or even generating test data synthetically.
The Benefits of TEM
What is the use case for TEM? In a nutshell, it allows you to make your software testing approach more efficient, reducing costs and accelerating the delivery of value to the client.
A more complete — but non-exhaustive — list of the benefits of TEM includes:
- Quicker and more stable test environment provisioning. Not relying on manual procedures for the creation of test environments means the process becomes faster and more reliable.
- Accelerated delivery to market. TEM makes your automated testing approach better. That allows your organization to deliver value to customers more quickly.
- Fewer defects in production. Again: TEM makes your automated testing approach better. That invariably leads to higher quality software being shipped.
- Full visibility of the IT infrastructure, which results in reduced disruption across development, test, and operations
- Reduced costs. Lack of a proper TEM approach means your organization is wasting money by using manual procedures, which result in duplicate effort, errors, and opportunity costs.
- Standardized and streamlined delivery of value. By automating as much as you can, you make sure the processes through the organization are standardized and reproducible. That way, you leave no room for errors caused by lack of knowledge, forgetfulness, or malpractice.
Understanding the ROI of Test Environment Management
We're now on the same page regarding the definition and importance of TEM. The next step is to understand why learning about the return on investment of test environment management is so valuable.
Why It's Important to Understand the ROI of TEM
I'd say that, in this day and age, most tech professionals wouldn't dispute the absolute necessity of automated testing. Do you want to be able to move fast while delivering high-quality software? Well, test automation to the rescue. There isn't any way around it.
However, designing and implementing a proper quality strategy is neither easy nor free. You will incur costs related to personnel, for instance, be it training your existing staff or hiring new talent. Also, you'll incur costs related to licensing the required test tools. And even if many automated testing tools are free and/or open-source, you must not forget their total cost of ownership. When it comes to TEM specifically, there might be high costs associated particularly with implementing and maintaining IT infrastructure and paying for cloud providers.
"Costs" is the wrong word, though. Since we've established the importance of test environment management and automated testing in general, the spending in this area should be framed as an investment. And calculating the ROI is essential for all types of investments; otherwise, you have no idea what works and what doesn't. Without learning the ROI, it becomes virtually impossible to justify more investment in an area.
How to Calculate the ROI of TEM
To calculate the ROI of TEM, you must start by factoring in the costs involved. As mentioned, you should certainly take staffing costs into account, including developers, QA, and operational staff. Factor in their annual, monthly, and daily costs.
Then, you should factor in the organization's financials, starting with annual revenue. Take into account the total annual spend on IT; the portion of that spent on infrastructure, licenses, and services; and the portion of that related to non-production IT. You might be surprised to learn that the average industry spend on non-production IT is about 50%. That's right: half of what organizations spend on IT infrastructure and services goes to QA and testing. Also, don't forget to factor in the costs of the TEM tools and services themselves.
Of course, that's a simplified view of what an ROI calculation could look like.
Streamline Delivery of Value With Test Environment Management
In this post, you've learned about the importance of test environment management ROI. Learning this vital information gives you leverage, since you can prove, with data, the results that test automation in general—and TEM in particular—can bring to the table.
Here's the thing, though. Finding out the ROI of your TEM can be a double-edged sword. You might learn some uncomfortable truths, such as discovering you have a terrible ROI. Feedback is always valuable, though, and learning that your TEM approach is inefficient and isn't giving you the good results you expected is valuable knowledge.
The bad news is that inefficient TEM is really costly. The even worse news is that most organizations have trouble with their TEM approaches.
The good news is that your organization doesn't have to be one of those. The first step is education. Well, make that a constant step. You have to make sure your organization is TEM savvy. Everyone in the company—developers, testers, QA, leadership—should have a firm grasp of what TEM is all about and how it impacts the overall quality strategy of the organization.
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