Testing key to ensuring app investment leads to long-term benefit, argues HP’s Antoine Aymer

Antoine Aymer
Antoine Aymer is the chief of Mobility Solutions for HP

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6 January 2014 | 0

For a lot of businesses, mobile is the magic word at present. It’s seen as hugely important in improving revenue, boosting customer experience and expanding your brand. It’s also an area that’s seen as being complex – particularly in terms of creating, testing and managing your own enterprise app.

Unfortunately, one thing many companies get wrong is believing apps to be a ‘soft’ innovation. Something which is useful, something which is the next step the company should make but not a long-term, major project.

This is very far from the reality.

Perhaps it comes back to the maturity difference between regions, I mean as Europeans we are probably two or three years behind the US, and in our attitudes towards creating high-quality enterprise apps we certainly are.

Very often at HP we have organisations coming to us saying ‘we’ve developed a mobile app but it’s not as good as it should be’. In fact, they may have invested tens of thousands of euros with a digital agency to create it but it still doesn’t meet customer needs.

These agencies will often not think about the concept of an ‘application lifecycle’, something which is the norm when creating traditional computing solutions. The reality is that companies must sit down and look at a mobile app project as a long-term investment, a long-term part of their offering, rather than a one-off project.

The stats bare out the importance of creating an effective app as for instance, 55% of all time spent with online retail sites now takes place on a mobile device. Then there’s the recent estimate that by 2016, mobile app projects will outnumber traditional app projects by four to one

There are still some significant hurdles that companies can put in front of themselves though. For instance, we often have three different groups coming to us from the same company as they look into creating and testing an app. The first is marketing, where the need for an app is simple, they want to expand their brand and deliver a better experience to the end user.

Then we see the business decision makers who want to monetise mobile customers, then finally there’s the IT department. Often these three groups are split, coming into us one after the other and working away by themselves. Everyone has to sit down together, if they don’t, they’re going to fail again and again and again.

All these errors can be avoided. At HP, we believe there are four stages to an enterprise mobile app project – designing and building the app obviously, then optimising it to ensure it performs exactly as it should do, then it comes time to distribute the app. Finally, you have to monitor the app and measure its progress and effectiveness.

I understand that creating, testing and releasing a mobile app can seem like a big project. However, you have to look at the big picture – the user, the market and the testing process which will cover issues such as functionality, memory issues, installation, security, performance, interoperability, usability and language.

Companies may perhaps feel that internal lab testing for an application can suffice, but with the rapid pace of change in both functional and customer demands for mobile applications, creating a high quality product needs a high quality testing strategy.

To be successful, your organisation needs to employ effective, efficient, and thorough functional testing throughout the application development lifecycle. Enterprise apps are a whole new challenge for most companies and that’s where the real issue lies as conventional, manual testing – so often used for desktop and web applications – just can’t meet the challenges.

Mobile apps have brought a new set of testing challenges, something which HP Unified Functional Testing (UFT) Mobile, our end-to-end solutions for functional app testing can take on. It guarantees not only a better final app, but also a more complete user experience, which is what an app will live or die on.

The challenges include fragmentation, as many new devices – and variations on the operating systems they carry – enter the market throughout the year. In addition you have to move fast with app development, as the design, build, test and release processes must keep pace with the market.

Such a fast pace can incur a risk of poor app quality which also must be avoided before any brand damage is incurred. I have seen myself examples of apps that, having been launched with a great deal of fanfare, were taken from the market because they simply didn’t meet the needs of the customer and had obviously been rushed to market without sufficient testing.

Other challenges include making sure that the testing process reacts to the complex new technologies which apps interact with such as location-based systems, near-field communication (NFC), real-time events, and pop-ups.

There are still some significant hurdles that companies can put in front of themselves though. For instance, we often have three different groups coming to us from the same company as they look into creating and testing an app. The first is marketing, where the need for an app is simple, they want to expand their brand and deliver a better experience to the end user.

In addition, it’s also important that if the app is aimed at an international client base it’s tested over local devices and carriers to ensure the experience is a fluid one across all markets.

We have five test-based steps which know can help meet these challenges and deliver better software in less time. The first is to test mobile apps on real devices to gain a better view of user experience. The second is to use the cloud to host your testing reference devices as you can avoid the complexity of procuring, managing, maintaining, and updating your own testing reference devices.

Next you need to automate mobile app testing as manual testing on individual devices simply doesn’t scale. Then you should test your enterprise app under different network conditions, as you have to realise that behaviour of an app can depend heavily on network variables.

Finally, the fifth step is to leverage your existing software quality processes, tools, teams, and policies. This helps to find the best way to extend your existing software development lifecycle processes and leverage your current assets to encompass your mobile apps.

In all cases, HP UFT Mobile – which you can find details on at HP.com/go/mobile – ensures these steps are carried out correctly, powered by industry-leading technology and delivering the market-ready app your business requires in a structured, timely and secure manner.

 

Antoine Aymer is the chief of Mobility Solutions for HP.

If you wish to contact HP locally with regard to any of the issues raised here, please contact regional manager Paul Turley paul.turley@hp.com

 

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