Users of mobile and broadband services are demanding customers. If services don’t measure up, they change operators. Telecoms company Elisa creates new services and improves the usability of old ones at a rapid rate with test automation in agile development.
“Our customer service, order system and product management must operate flawlessly and automatically in all situations when we create new services. We make changes to our services daily and at the same time we develop methods for operating more effectively and productively,” says Tomi Korpela, head of Elisa’s 130-person software development team.
Elisa’s services also scale globally, most recently expanding to China in September 2018, when the company’s Nordic TV offerings such as Elisa Entertainment original series Downshifters and the nature documentary Lake Story were launched for Chinese cable television audiences.
Productive and creative work
The greatest challenges in software development involves measuring productivity, since each development project is different. It is creative work that is not well-suited to traditional industrial metrics.
“In software development work you don’t measure the individual and his or her productivity but the entire team, the quality of its operations and productivity growth,” Korpela explains.
In creative work, motivation is the most important factor for improving productivity. So Elisa continuously measures job satisfaction among software developers.
“We try to improve motivation and enhance on-the-job wellbeing. When motivation is high the quality of work and productivity are ten times greater compared to when work is not inspiring.”
Good professional tools, modern technologies, continuous learning and the opportunity to influence the team’s work are some of the methods Korpela uses to sustain motivation among his top professionals.
“My job is to ensure that everyone is satisfied and that everything works. Together we have created an open culture where people help each other. If a problem arises, we discuss it openly. We can make mistakes as long as we learn from them.”
Testing involved from the very beginning
For the past few years, Elisa has been working with Qentinel to develop software test automation for agile development. “We program robots to do all of the work they can be programmed to do. People don’t need to spend time on manual testing.”
Elisa has several large 10 – 15-year-old IT systems in which changes implemented will in turn affect many other systems. It has become natural to assign testing of these changes to robots, which completed 400,000 tests in one year. This has freed up a huge quantity of software developer resources and improved testing quality.
“Without automation it would have been necessary to press the test button quite many times and mistakes would have been made,” Korpela remarks.
For software testing to work optimally, it needs to be an integrated part of the software development process.
“Testing should not create a production bottleneck. When we design new products, we immediately start thinking about what tests are needed and how to do them. We write the test scripts at a very early stage,” Korpela adds.
Making test automation a part of software development does not happen overnight. The most important part of the transformation requires all players to commit to the change.
“In addition to software developers, business owners must also understand that an investment in test automation will first and foremost improve the quality of the product. Savings come later.”
Qentinel has developed an operational model for Elisa in which software developers run the tests. They see what needs to be corrected and take responsibility for product quality. Qentinel experts provide guidance and develop the test protocols.
”When we began our cooperation with Qentinel we saw from the very beginning that they had a vast amount of experience in the practical implementation of test automation. Plans have not remained on the level of ideas, but everything that was planned was also implemented,” Korpela concludes.
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