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Functionality Testing: 5 Critical Success Factors

Once you have decided to leave the mainframe behind, you want to get it right. That means doing it quickly, effectively and with as few risks as possible. It is often easier to talk about the theory than the reality of successful mainframe migration. That’s why we have decided to share some secrets of mainframe migration success based on our many years of experience and the combined brainpower of our many experts.

In this blog post, we will share one of the most often overlooked elements of a successful migration from the mainframe to your preferred platform or tool of choice: testing!

Why is faster testing so important for mainframe migration?

Ask anyone who knows about application and data migration and they will tell you – good testing plays a critical role in project success. They will probably talk about how a comprehensive testing strategy can reduce time-to-market. This, of course, applies to getting your application from a legacy solution to a new one – no matter which of the 7 Rs you choose to use – as well as upgrading it and reducing technical debt. They will remind you that thorough testing can ensure a modernised application has fewer bugs and issues, creating a better-quality product that can improve user satisfaction and much more. They will discuss how good testing can improve development and deployment efficiency and even reduce cost – giving you a potential competitive advantage. They may even mention security – because systems which have been more comprehensively tested often have fewer security vulnerabilities.

But they won’t tell you about the elephant in the room: testing makes people’s lives easier.

Testing is not about code. It is about humans.

Most companies that understand the depth and breadth of mainframe migration will only talk to you in Geek. They will find the most ingenious way of doing a migration that, quite frankly, boggles the brains of most decision-makers. This means that most of the time, they forget a fundamental principle of business: when people understand and are engaged in a process, they are more likely to want it to succeed.

That’s why, at LzLabs, we think about testing from a human perspective and a business perspective first.

In mainframe modernisation projects, you will gain a lot of momentum by engaging the business early in the project and keeping them engaged throughout. It is a no-brainer that the business processes keep working as expected after the migration, that the functionality must be fully retained. Designing new or refining existing test regimes is a practical way of achieving that business-IT alignment on an organisational level. It also helps engage the right people in the process from the beginning.

Let’s be frank. Too often, the business doesn’t get deeply involved in a migration project because they anticipate hardly any change to their daily life. Sadly, when testing time comes, ignorance is not bliss. The value of testing and the time relevant business users need to do it can be grossly underestimated. By getting business buy-in earlier, the whole project can become more efficient.

At the end of the day, nobody will turn on a mission-critical or business-critical application if they don’t think it will work. Without thorough testing, it will be  impossible to give the business that critical peace of mind they crave.

Testing is an essential part of any transformation project, and even more, it is a roadmap for the future. As you will see in our blog post, Testing: the key to mainframe modernisation success, good testing helps build the foundation for future business success. First, however, go od testing requires a few business fundamentals to be in place.

Business fundamentals for successful testing

Success factor 1: clear project goals

Successful projects require solid, clear project goals. Sadly, this element is often overlooked. How can you create great tests if you do not know what you are testing for? Every testing strategy is better if it is aligned with project goals. . They should have access to relevant project documentation and the fundamental knowledge they need to create good tests.

Success factor 2: functionality is key

An application that does not work as expected can damage the business. Well-defined, well-documented and repeatable tests will be crucial to migration success. You may want to re-think this element if you have not created test cases, defined test data and established test procedures. A well-planned and executed testing approach does not just give more accurate, reliable results. It is the difference between a usable application and, potentially, a failed migration.

Success factor 3: things will go wrong. Be prepared

No testing process is perfect. At least, not initially. That is why it is essential to check testing processes and identify and address gaps immediately. The testing process should be comprehensive and practical because if you need to review test results, conduct root cause analysis, or implement corrective actions, you need to do it fast! Get testing right, right from the beginning, and you will reduce risk and maximise the chances of success, while potentially preventing further issues (like bug fixes and issue resolution) down the line.

Success factor 4: teamwork makes the dream work

In any project, things go more smoothly when everyone is on the same page. Getting the application development and testing teams to work together effectively is consequently very important. Lots of tactics can improve project efficiency – including communication protocols, joint planning sessions and using collaboration tools – at the end of the day, it is worth remembering that clarity is key. Everything is easier if people know what to achieve, why, and who is responsible. That’s true for any team’s success. It is particularly true for successful testing and mainframe migration. The more effectively you communicate, the more successful you will be.

Are you testing at the right time?

In testing, as in life, timing is everything. You should fully expect to conduct functional testing before migration to identify potential inconsistencies, incompatibilities or issues. Then, of course, functional testing must happen continuously throughout the migration process to make sure the applications you are migrating are working consistently. Lastly, post-migration testing will ensure applications are doing what you had expected.

People you want to work with

However, as we said earlier, testing is not about code; it is about humans.

That is why, at the end of the day, it is vital to choose humans you respect and want to work with to help you through your mainframe migration. Our team has been around and knows their stuff. It is incredible what some of them can do! Many of our developers and testers at LzLabs have been working in the industry for decades. We know how to navigate the uniquely challenging development and testing environment that mainframe migrations require. We automate everything we can, as often as possible and bring our brains, hearts and souls to each project. We aim to make every single migration successful and an effort we can all be proud of. That is why the following success factor is so important.

 Success factor 5: find a transformation partner

So, when you know it is time to leave your mainframe behind, chat with one of our experts. Together, we will help you move faster and achieve more by staying with you every step of the way through the mainframe modernisation maze.

Faster testing is just one part (but a significant part) of how we can help. Please do not hesitate to reach out and ask us questions. We love being able to help.

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