This post is a little more generic than my normal product focus on SharePoint technologies, reason being it applies to all IT solutions projects delivering a solution.
As you may have read in the news over the last couple of weeks a couple of high profile problems hit the headlines. These were the failure of Tesco’s banking platform migration (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-13888891) and The Olympics ticketing system for London 2012 (http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2011/jun/24/olympic-tickets-sale-second-round).
Both scenarios indicate that sufficient testing of their respective systems was clearly not carried out to avoid these unfortunate outcomes. With the advancement in virtualisation technologies there should be no reason why replicated scenarios can’t be simulated to forecast and avoid this happening.
One of the main reasons why testing is reduced is due to the financial overhead of such intense testing. This includes provisioning hardware, additional software licenses, resources to commission the system, testing the systems and the list goes on and effectively this is a project in itself.
What the system glitches didn't highlight and especially in the case the Olympics' ticket application system was that they simply didn't cater for the volume of applicants. This begs the question, why didn't they? Surely they were expecting this many applicants to apply?
This brings me on to the next point which is systems should be tested for every eventuality ‘What if’ and the outcome / behaviour of such a scenario.
Personally for the Olympic application (of which first time round I was unsuccessful) I was frustrated by how the results were displayed when searching for an event to attend. The results displayed all events even if they had been sold! All this did was make it harder for me to find events with availability and in the end I gave up. What I believe should have happened was as an event was sold out it was removed from the results to allow for easy navigation of availability. This was a case of the ‘what if’ scenario and how easy it should be for potential applicants to apply for tickets especially as second time round it was first come first serve so people would have been panicking trying to find availability as it rapidly disappeared.
So when discussing the financial cost of testing migrations / go-live scenario’s were the relevant risks pointed out of not thoroughly testing? Was the risk absorbed and understood?
IT may have been the one’s who were having the finger pointed at them however if they have highlighted the risks and issues of not thoroughly testing then is it IT’s fault? I certainly don’t think so and it easy to blame IT for this.