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Test scalability now to ensure a successful holiday season

With just under four months to go until the holiday season, it’s time for IT development departments to get ahead and ensure a successful and scalable season come November and December.

Why prepare now?

More than likely, it’s quiet in the office. So while everyone else is on the beach,  take a fresh look at the three T’s of testing: tools, techniques, and technologies. This evaluation of your testing will not only position you for an error-free, highly scalable holiday season, but it will also provide a great way to scale your revenue by reviewing your analysis and trends, something that will pay off far into the future.

Aside from being months away from the holidays, there’s another reason why mid-summer is an ideal time to focus on testing. It’s most likely the time of year when organizations are in the process of migrating to new platforms and technologies such as HTML5, new CMS platforms, and cloud environments.

I’ve seen many customers take the functionality they’ve had in the past for granted, letting the testing required to handle the type of high traffic experienced over the holidays fall to a date “sometime in the fall.” I point out to them that there’s no guarantee that what you’re using is going to work once you go live during the holiday season. I don’t care how much faith you have in your newly adopted technology – when traffic surges in December, all bets are off.

In addition to the reasons above, there’s a higher order to summer holiday preparation. It gives you an annual opportunity to thoroughly document your assessment of the overall testing process and solidify your best practices. Each year, your architectures will evolve and change, but if you have a template for your testing process stored away, you’ll be able to test each new technology thoroughly.

How to test your testing

  • Know your numbers. This means projecting your expected traffic and understanding how much effort you need to put into the actual marketing campaigns. For example, find out if your business has any upcoming feature releases or functionalities that will impact performance. Determining that up front helps you time your development schedule for the next three or four months.
  • Adopt agile methodology. Agile methodology is the ability to envision a large plan, break it down mentally, and actually create checkboxes signifying progress. This checklist should indicate how the site is given its current feature functionality, and create a baseline of what it is today so that it can be measured in the future.
  • Test the overall structural integrity of the application itself. Scalability is one way to test structural integrity, but you should be looking at the overall testing processes. It’s not just the scalability and elasticity that you should be concerned about.

But here’s the lynchpin: None of above will work unless you get the buy-in from your marketing department.

Get marketing involved

One of the challenges that I see constantly is a lack of communication between the marketing and IT departments. If a big decision is made in marketing, it will almost always require a correlated change of development or the infrastructure within the development by the IT department.

I’ve seen instances where, unbeknownst to the IT staff, a massive marketing effort with direct impact on the actual environment was planned around a holiday. Needless to say, it ended in disaster.

Marketing and IT alike need to acknowledge that if marketing is planning a large campaign, a series of campaigns, or blitz advertising, it will have a direct impact on the e-commerce site that the organization runs.

Taking the time now to focus on testing will ensure your web properties are fully equipped to support a profitable holiday season.

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