Test Environment Management is about controlling, steering and managing the enterprise level test environments. It consists of multiple components like hardware, software, databases, middleware, applications and test data managed by tools, procedures and resources effectively.
Many organizations establish and maintain test environments to enable smooth and on-time completion of projects. However with the number of tools increasing by the day, managing test environments is becoming more and more costly, complex and time consuming. Recent surveys have shown that up to 40% of a tester’s time can be consumed by test environment issues; thereby affecting quality and productivity.
Some of the key test environment challenges that organizations face are:
- Lack of dedicated teams
- Fragmented test environments
- Lack of optimized Test Environment assets
- Lack of documentation and reusable value
- Lack of automation
In the face of these challenges, the key factors for a successful test environment management would be:
1) Efficient Resource Management - To create a best-in-class test environment model the first step is to establish a dedicated test environment team at the enterprise level. This team will serve as the single point of contact for all test environment related activities. Another essential aspect is maintaining the same terminology. Common terminology helps the team to mutual understanding, seamless information collection, and dissemination.
2) Strategic Planning and Robust Program Governance-Organizations must define the test environment strategy at enterprise level. The Enterprise Architecture team designs the test environment based on the production environment blueprint and future test requirements. Test environment support team should always follow the process standards and look for continuous improvements. The success of an enterprise level test environment is based on how robust the program governance model is. The governance team will have to understand the business requirement at the early stage of the release and plan accordingly.
3) Process Optimization and Operations Excellence- Consolidation, simplification and re-use of assets is vital for cost optimization. Process optimization and standardization of Test Environment Management process helps in improving efficiency. It is necessary to define, implement, and adhere to the best practices. Demand forecasting and capacity planning also play a very important role in helping plan ahead. An effective Test Environment Management would require a well-structured requirement discussion, elaboration, validation and definition.
4) Automation-Automating test environment activities will help minimize dependency. Automation strategies ensure that the turnaround time for test environment provisioning is improved.
Having understood the challenges of test environment, it becomes essential for an organization to establish a best-in-class practice at the enterprise level; thus marking the onset of the transformation. To ensure success, organizations will have to invest more on test environments so as to implement the best practices and automate activities.
Can you think of other factors that can improve the success of test environment management? I would be happy to hear from you.