Manage first, then automate: Five business cases for pre-production management

As applications are quickly becoming a crucial part of today’s world, test environment management has never been more important to match. Developers working on applications are inundated with codes that need to be tested in similar environments, and failing to manage this part of the application lifecycle can be disastrous.

However, since test environments are part of every development cycle, what don’t we know?

According to EMA’s 2018 Test Environment Management Survey, the average cost of test environments across an organisation is around $682,000. With this amount of money being spent, not managing these environments effectively is not an option. Many businesses are still using spreadsheets, internal tools or CI/CD tools to manage this, and sometimes it’s even just people working from memory.

But this won’t always be possible in the long term, and so business leaders who are unsure of the benefits of dedicated pre-production management tools should consider the following five business cases of how these solutions can make a difference.

1) Reduced development and test time

In a typical development cycle, whenever a problem occurs and a bug is raised, the bug is assigned to a developer. It may highlight that the wrong deployment has occurred, or the configuration is wrong. At this point task-swapping occurs, wasting yet more time, as when an application reaches QA environments, the testers are on a different version already, so to resolve the bug they have to look back at older code.

When using Test Environment Management (TEM) tools that help manage this scenario, EMA’s survey found that organisations saved an average of 1.6 weeks of development and test time. In speeding up this cycle, the average cost savings per year is $720,000 – purely from managing these test environments efficiently.

2) Faster provision of test environments

With each release being processed quicker, the provision of test environments also becomes faster. Having TEM tools reduces test environment provisioning from a mean of 3.3 days to just 1.8 days. Test environments, as mentioned, are very expensive to run, therefore being able to provision them faster means that they are able to test more applications overall.

3) Reduced number of environments

If a business is able to provision its test environments faster, it can get better use out of each one. Test environments can be used over and over for different code as long as the developers know what they’re looking for and what they need the environment to be checking for. Being able to repurpose them allows organisations to reduce the overall number of test environments they run, quickly reducing the costs that mount with every environment.

4) Reduced number of staff required

Most enterprises will have a group of people that are responsible for managing the post-production environments, but pre-production environments are just as important. When a test environment doesn’t have a management solution, teams have to send emails and check if anyone else is using the environment. This ties teams up in multiple spreadsheets and schedules, requiring any conflicts to be managed via emails, and as the number of environments increases, the complexity increases with them.

Having TEM tools not only reduces the number of environments that are needed overall but with a solution that manages the scheduling process, employees are able to better keep on top of the test environments and not waste time coordinating them through emails and spreadsheets. With TEM tools, according to the survey, reductions in test environment managers needed were between 1-5 people, with an average of 2.7. The benefit of this is that with fewer employees required to spend their time on this task, they are able to focus their efforts elsewhere to where their knowledge and skills are needed more.

5) Improved quality of applications

The previous four steps all amount to arguably the most important business case of all: application quality. TEM tools help prevent teams from wasting time testing bad bugs, and instead, they can find the real bugs in code and work to resolve them. With fewer bugs causing issues in the new releases, the overall end result is a better-quality application for customers.

The survey found that businesses’ top TEM priority for 2018-19 was to “better integrate TEM tools with CI/CD tools for better dev/test automation,” highlighting how businesses have been eager in the past couple of years to use TEM tools to support and boost their existing resources. Test environments are everywhere, and they will only increase over time. Therefore, TEM tools are quickly becoming a crucial asset across every industry, and these business cases have shown that in reality, there is no reason why these shouldn’t be business leaders’ number one investment.

Written by Jeff Keyes, Director of Product Marketing at Plutora.

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