The journey into agile transformation

Energy Companies are opting to Use Test Automation with Tricentis – The Journey into Agile Transformation

  • Chris Rolls
  • 7 March 2019

In the United States, the power and gas industry is heavily regulated through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and other regional Independent Systems Operators (ISOs). This means that energy retailers, generators and utilities must provide consumers with reliable services and implement consumer protection policies.

As more players enter the market providing consumers with greater choices, it is important for energy companies to focus not just on the services they provide, but also their customer experience. Having good data APIs from plant to transmission to the end-user is incredibly important, but consumers of today also expect tools with good UI so they can keep up to date on power outages, bill payments, renewal notices, and issue resolution.

At a recent conference we attended, an industry-leading energy company shared their journey to providing their customers with a better experience. Having recently undertaken an Agile and DevOps transition, they found that having the right PEOPLE, PROCESSES, and TECHNOLOGY has made a huge difference.

Here are their tips:

1.Test planning

Testing planning is a critical first step. The best was to achieve this is by engaging a test architect to develop the overall test and automation strategies, and managing expectations such as determining when a test is ready and when a test is complete during agile transformation.

A test architect can also help develop version control mechanisms and keep test script inventories up to date. Test planning is not only a critical PROCESS but having the right PEOPLE to architect it will make all the difference.

2. Teamwork makes the dream work

Agile transformation is not an easy task. Any consulting firm or software vendor that says it is… well, they are not being 100% truthful.

Having the right team of PEOPLE does make the PROCESS run more smoothly.

A good Agile team should consist of the following:

  • Consumer
  • Project Stakeholders
  • Product Owner
  • Agile Lead
  • IT Manager
  • Agile Coach
  • Automation Architect
  • Data Architect
  • Product SME
  • Delivery SME
  • Performance Tester
  • Business Analyst
  • Developers
  • Agile Testers
  • Automation Tester

Having the right team of PEOPLE helps enable organic knowledge transfer and make the feedback loop more efficient. The right PEOPLE, PROCESSES and TECHNOLOGY will then start to blend the role of the tester and developer, which enables a more seamless Agile transformation.

3.Utilization of test automation

Test automation makes it possible to execute more test cycles in a short time frame, which reduces manual testing efforts by 50 – 85%. However, deciding which tests to automate (risk-based) and implementing automation is only the first step. To realize the full value of automation, these tests must be maintained by a Quality Insurance Inspector.

Adopting a positive attitude about this transformation is also essential. The best way to do this is through leadership buy in and implementing an executive “Automation Champion”. This person helps the team stay focused and realize that in testing, failure is a GOOD thing.

In addition to PROCESSES and PEOPLE, the right TECHNOLOGY helps enable the implementation of test automation. Many companies have third generation or open source scripting tools that are not scalable. Gartner Magic Quadrant leader, Tricentis has been attributed as a critical success factor for its power and gas clients with its automation solution, TOSCA, which makes test automation simple. TOSCA does this by:

  • Making test cases easier to develop and maintain
  • Enabling testers to become automators
  • Giving organizations the ability to scale testing operations

4.Creating an Agile sprint in a continuous testing environment

Once an organization has started automation, testing must be done daily. On a continuous basis, sprint testing should be executed for current development. This is followed up by executing post sprint testing for completed development and planning sprint and post sprint testing for the next sprint. The last key piece to creating a continuous testing environment is to run daily automated regressions in multiple environments.

It is important to note that each of these items are completed in each sprint, which helps ensure that testing does not fall behind, and immediate feedback is obtained.

Overall, the most progressive energy companies are finding success in test automation, not only by using the right PEOPLE, PROCESSES, and TECHNOLOGY, but by also continuing to innovate and improve in these areas.