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Announcing the QA Financial European Software and App Awards for 2017
We are delighted to announce the winners of our 2017 European Software and App Awards. In each case, they have demonstrated innovation and excellence in response to the key challenges facing financial firms: increasing competition, increasing regulation and the increasing complexity and scale of technology requirements.
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Functional Testing Provider of the Year -- Tricentis
Non-Functional Testing Provider of the Year -- Exactpro
Performance Testing Provider of the Year -- Neotys
DevOps Advisory Provider of the Year -- Tata Consultancy Services
Testing Transformation Project of the Year -- UST Global
Vendor Risk Management Provider of the Year -- CAST Software
Crowd Testing Provider of the Year -- Applause
Mobile Testing Provider of the Year -- Perfecto Mobile
Regulatory Testing Project of the Year -- HCL Technologies and Deutsche Bank
Software Vendor Platform of the Year -- Calypso Technology's CATT
Software quality assurance is no longer just about efficiency: delivering apps more quickly and more cost effectively. It is now critical to the competitiveness of financial firms. For Schroders, for example, the ability to deliver higher-quality apps is one key response to the rise of low-cost disruptors in the asset management industry.
So the choice of UST Global as Schroders’ core partner for its recently-completed programme went far beyond a simple calculation of cost and efficiency. While new technologies in software development and quality assurance offer huge opportunities for savings, that is not what is going to win customers and keep them.
UST’s award for Software and System Integration Company of the Year is therefore underpinned by the story we tell here about the major transition project they managed for Schroders. In each case, our awards have the backing of on-the-record interviews with the customers of client firms.
Quality assurance is increasingly interwoven with the need to embed compliance in the software development life-cycle for those critical apps. Our award for HCL Technologies and its client, Deutsche Bank, illustrates this. It is also a very good example of the complexity of international compliance requirements -- in this case the United States’ FATCA tax rules.
Central banks and other regulators are moving away from “one-size-fits-all” assessments of how firms manage the development of critical apps to more direct supervision. Under the evolving rules of the Basel Committee of Central Banks, that means that operational risk charges for banks are likely to vary much more in the future according to the processes they have in place for software quality assurance. So it is not just those apps that are designed specifically for compliance with specific rules such as the United State's FATCA -- or Europe’s MiFID and EMIR legislation -- that will come under increasing scrutiny.
If there is one dominant theme in financial software quality assurance, however, it is the inexorable rise of test automation. According to a survey of 20 leading financial firms -- investment and retail banks, and insurance companies -- conducted by QA Financial earlier this year, rates of automation for functional testing were on average 32%. Those firms want to increase that to 60%+ over the next two years. The key drivers cited were the need for increased speed and quality of app delivery, as well as improved operational risk management.
But what are the key obstacles? And why are financial firms so often behind the curve in automation, compared to retailers, media companies and public sectors? Of course financial firms often face the challenges of multiple legacy systems, often running on COBOL, that make integration more complex. They face more regulatory requirements. But the heads of QA and app architecture we spoke to for our survey were also near unanimous in complaining about cultural resistance to technology change at their firms.
“We need a long term plan,” said the QA head at one London-based international bank. “The problem is that while other industries have a long-term vision, banks think on a short-term basis.”
According to a European bank we spoke to about that same challenge. “It’s a case of old habits die hard. There’s not a push from senior management, who have been wishy-washy. Organisational change is not a priority for the CIO.”
Even where change has been instigated, and leadership in app architecture brought in, respondents to our survey told us that they had met resistance to new automation tools from their existing teams. As a rule, app manufacture at even the largest financial firms remains labour-intensive. Despite much talk about new frameworks for pricing out-sourced work, the number of test cases performed remains the predominant benchmark. For whatever reason, the most important decisions around automation have yet to be taken by most firms.
This is why our overall winner -- our Quality Assurance and Testing Priovider of the Year Award-- is so significant. Tricentis, an Austrian company, has enjoyed a phenomenal growth story over recent years. Its core product, Tosca, is arguably the market-leading off-the-shelf test automation tool. And the key rationale for the product is that it can readily be used by existing development teams to make the transition from manual to automated testing.
In making that award to Tricentis -- along with our subsidiary award for Functional Testing Provider of the Year -- we recognise that there is revolution in test automation happening, and that Tricentis has a leading role.
We began our awards review process last April. Companies were invited to apply and the review process was conducted by our editorial panel. We asked for entries that could be supported by on-the-record customer interviews, which we conducted.