Quality: The ability of a service or product to meet customer requirements and create value for that customer. Perceived quality affects customer support more than any other element. Products and services must attain a certain minimum level of quality. No other components can make up for a significant shortfall on this one and the perceived loss of value this can create.
In business today, “Time to Value” has increasingly become one of the most significant measures an organization reviews and reports on. Today’s ever more progressively shorter time scales for this cannot be met without being able to incorporate such practices as continuous delivery (CD), continuous integration (CI) and continuous deployment (CD), which all are dependent on our ability to do continuous testing. As many of you have certainly experienced, this need for speed continues to be a clear and present danger in our ability to create a high trust culture where testing and learning from failure is allowed and the time for this is appropriately built into the project lifecycle.
In order to meet this demand of higher release cadence, we can incorporate from the best practice discipline of Service Validation and Testing, the use of test models. These test models will include a test plan, what is to be tested and test scripts that define how each element will be tested. This will ensure that testing will be executed consistently and in a repeatable way that is both effective and efficient. A vital concept is that we will be able to easily automate these test models which is a crucial component in being able to achieve CD, CI, CD. Test scripts help to define the release test conditions and the expected results and test cycles. Test models are well structured, so they provide traceability back to the stated requirements (from both a business and IT perspective). They enable auditability through test execution, evaluation and reporting while ensuring test elements can be maintained and changed in a controlled and documented manner.
Some examples of service test models follow:
- Service contract test model: Validates that the customer can use the service to deliver the appropriate value proposition.
- Service contract test model: Validates that the service provider can deliver the service required and expected by the customer.
- Service level test model: Ensures that the service provider can deliver the service level requirements, and the service level requirements can be met in the live environment.
- Service test model: Ensures that the service provider is capable of delivering, operating and managing the new or changed service with the appropriate set of resources.
By engaging in the use of these models we can ensure that the IT staff requirements can be delivered before the actual deployment of the service. In this way we can ensure that we have the right technological facilities in place and skills, knowledge and resources are available. Supporting processes and resources are at the appropriate levels and that business and IT continuity has been considered.
By engaging in these best practices we can speed up our release cadence while continuing to ensure quality, reliability and agility in meeting today’s demands.