Monday, June 16, 2014

Do You Need to Test Your Cloud Applications?

Software accessed via the "Cloud" is a deployment model that provides access to software remotely. It may also be referred to simply as SaaS or as hosted applications. Since the software is vendor-hosted remotely, it removes the need for organizations to program, install, buy a lot of hardware for and regularly maintain the software.

Even though the implementation is a cloud-based, do you still to test the software? Yes, and here's why...
Risk Management
Testing verifies that the software and its delivery meet all of your requirements including functional, performance, security, integration and so on. This verification is done to ensure that you, along with the cloud vendor, have implemented the system correctly and as expected. In addition, testing validates that the system is what the user needs. In the end, validation is performed to help with risk management.

Meets User Needs
Functional testing is the most apparent tool you will have to validate that the product meets your corporate needs. The requirements are the foundation in effective functional testing. Using the original requirements, you can plan and manage tests that are focused on your specific business and user functional needs. Involve the user, either by them directly performing the tests or have them review and sign-off on the test results.

Performance Meets Service Level Agreement (SLA)
Load and Stress testing are a methods used to simulate real life scenario of a given system. It involves testing in real time beyond normal operational capacity in order to observe the results. Have anticipated metrics in place (e.g. maximum number of simultaneous users/connections, number of transaction per second, internet throughput, etc.). Then, measure your test results against the agreed upon performance. Work with the vendor to optimize performance that does not meet your specifications.

Meet's Security Requirements
Mitigating eternal security threats is a huge concern with cloud based software applications. You will rely on the security measures put in place by the vendor, which are largely outside of your control. You need to validate that the product meets the same password change control and user level security that your organization has set for itself. In addition, you need to continually monitor that the vendor is adhering to its own security protection (virus and malware protection, etc.). The level and types of security that you expect from the vendor must be put in the SLA and reviewed regularly by you.

Data Integration with Other Systems
If one of your requirements is data integration with other systems within your inventory, you need to validate that the input and/or output work as agreed. Don't assume that when cloud-based applications use standard data interface files (e.g. CSV, XML, etc.) that the field formats delivered will match those of the other systems. Testing of standard files must be done with the same level of diligence as for or custom interfaces. If you requested custom interface files for your implementation, be sure your contract with the vendor specifies that they will maintain the interface format for as long as you are a customer, and not just the length of the current contract.

David Schuchman

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Acknowledge Employees Who Perform Well

When your employees perform well and further the mission of your organization, you should acknowledge them. Their performance improves the bottom line, and as their manager, makes you look good. Acknowledgment gives employees incentive to continue to meet this high standard. Recognition does not only need to be by paying them more money. While a bonus check would be nice, employees will appreciate a more simple acknowledgment of their good job performance.
Place more responsibility on the employee
The new responsibility will be seen as an exciting challenge by the employee. Delegate duties that include work that you as the supervisor normally would perform. Above all, your employee may find this as another way to impress you with continued good performance.

Let the employee in on plans for the company
By giving information about the company that you have no obligation to give, you show the employee that you value and trust him/her as both a person and an employee. The employee may make career direction decisions within the organization based on the information you provide about the company.

Inform your management via email, and "cc" the employee 
This type of recognition really pays off. Not only will the employee know that you appreciate such good efforts, but the managers who read the acknowledgments will know that you appreciate the employee’s job performance as well, and likely give their own acknowledgment to the employee.

Give positive feedback
Have a private meeting with the employee in your office to give an evaluation of the performance. When the employee finds that you want to acknowledge good performance rather than criticize poor performance, the employee will likely leave your office with a smile and renewed energy for continuing to perform well.

David Schuchman