Integrate and Test Your Tech Stack to Drive Business Growth

Article By : Anna McCowan, Keysight Technologies

Building an integrated technology stack or "tech stack" plays a vital role in enabling business growth.

Building an integrated technology stack or “tech stack” plays a vital role in enabling business growth.

Too often business leaders are investing in applications, connecting them to existing systems, and hoping for the best. They soon find out that is not an effective way to achieve their business goals.

A better approach starts with setting clear objectives, collaborating company-wide, and picking the right tools for an organization’s specific needs.

For long-term business growth, business leaders must also prioritize continuous integration testing of their tech stack to ensure usability and functionality in the long run.

What is a tech stack? 

A tech stack is the collection of digital products and technologies an organization uses to accomplish tasks.  It encompasses the software, web applications, databases, and other systems that are core parts of how an organization operates. This includes tools used across different organizational departments – from marketing and sales, to HR and finance.

The right tech stack includes applications that easily integrate with each other to further streamline business practices and support growth. Delivering value and increasing growth are high on the list of objectives for every enterprise organization. Achieving this is made easier by curating a tech stack with the right set of tools.


This month’s In Focus highlights the developments in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) sectors, the engineering challenges, and whether or not the world is ready for an AI-centric future.

 


Building The Right Tech Stack 

Building a tech stack involves more than selecting the latest technologies, integrating them, and expecting your organization, department, or team to improve the way they operate. Before investing in a new software or application, business leaders should consider the following:

1. Evaluate outcomes before tools 

Implementing a set of tools before knowing what needs improving is a sure-fire way of creating a tech stack that will hinder rather than aid.

First, organizations need to ask themselves, “What are we trying to achieve? What is the desired outcome? What is preventing these outcomes from being achieved?”

For instance, if customer experience is delivering below expectations, implementing a brand-new CRM system is not a comprehensive solution. First, leaders must look into why customer experience is not performing well.

Delays in order fulfillment, ineffective customer communication, or slow system notifications can all cause an unpleasant customer experience. Customer order details might be entered incorrectly or could fail to reach the logistics center altogether. Perhaps the software delivering team is spending too much time checking code defects manually, leaving no time to work on new features.

Understanding the root cause of performance issues is critical to solving them. Tools should merely be a facilitator. The immediate and primary purpose of building a tech stack is to align processes with business objectives to deliver as much value as possible.

2. Collaboration is key

Organizational silos must be broken down to improve decision-making when creating a fully functioning tech stack. Using a consultative approach across departments is necessary, regardless of the type of tech stack being built.

For instance, if a CRM platform is implemented in isolation to solve customer experience issues, but a distribution center is unaware, an order fulfillment workflow might completely break down. Having a discussion early with relevant stakeholders can flag any bottlenecks and determine if additional technologies are required to plug any gaps.

With representatives from relevant teams and departments, identifying problems and setting clear objectives is easier. Once established, creating the appropriate workflows that streamline and automate processes is simple.

3. Consult the experts

Any application or system can work straight out of the box on its own, but few organizations require this level of simplicity. To cater to unique business needs and ensure any tech stack delivers value, varying degrees of customization are necessary.

One main area is implementing business logic to create custom workflows. Custom workflows throughout any tech stack will typically follow a step-by-step process and include intricate rules. Features, such as mandatory fields, business rules, and “if/then” statements, will be implemented to ensure each application and workflow functions correctly.

Although many application UIs are fluid, the number of potential actions, paths, and routes a user can take are many – there’s no guarantee they will follow point A, to B, to C, and then to D in that order. It is critical to consult with software teams to ensure the business rules are correctly implemented and the various user paths adequately tested.

Another technical area to consider is how a platform or software works when integrating with different technologies. The IT team should be included in these conversations. Software experts will best understand the advantages and disadvantages of using one programming language over another. Understanding what’s involved when integrating applications with different codebases is essential. Organizations don’t want to invest in a tech stack to ultimately find that no one that can automate the workflows.

Consulting the software development team is necessary because end-to-end testing will have to continuously take place. In addition to different codebases, updates, new features, and maintenance work will regularly occur, requiring rigorous testing to maintain functionality across every platform.

Testing Your Tech Stack Is Imperative 

Setting clear objectives, collaborating company-wide, finding the right tools, and implementing those tools is just the beginning. For a tech stack to function properly, continuous testing is imperative – and this means taking advantage of automation.

Test and monitor the user experience 

An unused tech stack defeats its entire purpose. To ensure usability, it is best to test from the user’s perspective. However, not all test automation tools have that capability. Most testing tools simply look at the code and verify the user experience from the backend, but for most modern applications, that’s not enough.

Today’s applications have complex UIs that use features such as iFrames, drop-downs, and pop-up windows, to offer a better experience. These can be great for a user but can be hard to test with tools that only verify the code.

Testing from the user’s perspective means intently looking at what the user sees. For instance, a pop-up window may appear, obscuring a button that must be clicked to complete an action that is critical to a workflow. Specific object-based tools wouldn’t identify this as an issue because its remit is only to verify the code rather than validate the UI.

Figure 1 Creating a digital twin of the application allows you to test from the user’s perspective. (Image of Keysight’s Eggplant DAI)

Test user journeys with AI

Essential to any tech stack are customizations, in particular, workflows. Business logic drives these custom workflows, increasing the number of user journeys that need testing.

Users don’t necessarily move down a linear path in sequence. One step in the process might be accessible from different routes. Users may forget to enter necessary data, meaning they have to go back a step or refresh the page.

Expecting a manual tester to predict every possible user journey and action is not viable. Use a test automation solution that conducts intelligent exploratory testing by utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) to increase coverage by auto-generating test cases for all possible user journeys.

Figure 2 Example of a possible user journey determined by full exploratory testing using AI. (Image of Keysight’s Eggplant DAI)

Test any technology 

Due to complex systems, devices, and codebases involved with every tech stack, organizations require a solution that can automate true end-to-end testing via only one test, regardless of the technology.

The alternative option is to utilize multiple manual or automated testing tools and create test cases for every technology, system, and application that makes up the tech stack.

Considering that most tech stacks are cloud-based, users will be accessing platforms on different web browsers, on multiple devices, built on various programming languages. In some cases, merely logging into an application requires two-factor authentication, which involves testing user journeys across a range of computers and mobile devices.

Manually testing these scenarios or using multiple tools takes time — time your competitors are using to release new features and digital products to the market faster than you can.

Figure 3 Digital twin model of testing 2-factor authentication across multiple devices. (Image of Keysight’s Eggplant DAI).

Summary

With the right tech stack, business leaders can connect digital workflows across teams and departments, improve collaboration, and achieve common business goals. To ensure long-term business success, continuous testing of the tech stack must be priority.

To learn more about AI-driven test automation, visit eggplantsoftware.com.

 

About the Author

Anna McCowan holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Sonoma State University in Northern California. She works as a software solutions manager at Keysight Technologies, a leading technology company dedicated to providing tomorrow’s test technologies today, enabling customers to connect and secure the world with their innovations.

 

 

Subscribe to Newsletter

Leave a comment