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COVID-19 & IT investment - Prevention is better than cure

COVID-19 & IT investment - Prevention is better than cure

Steven Brown

We find ourselves in the midst of a pandemic. While we wait for a vaccine, governments around the world have put measures in place such a social distancing, wearing a mask, and limiting crowds of people. All these measures aim to reduce the risk of infection.

In parallel, home fitness and cooking have skyrocketed as people look to make better habits to improve their health and strengthen their immune defenses. Therefore hopefully reducing the impact that the virus may have.

Thinking as a system, if we take these steps – even if they are potentially negative for the economy - then we can reduce the risk and impact of infection making our society and individuals safer and more resilient. Seems like common sense.

How do we make our IT systems safer?

So at a time when we are more reliant on our IT systems than ever, from helping our businesses to flourish, allowing us to work from home, shopping online, improving our lifestyles, the question is: how do we make our IT systems safer and more resilient? In other words, how do we reduce the risk and impact our IT systems from failing us at this critical point in history?

Well, mitigating risk and impact are nothing new in the world of software quality. In fact, the goal of software quality experts since IT began, is to invest in processes and tools that will lower the chances of defects entering into production environments. And ensure that those bugs that sneak through cause the least amount of damage.

The Cost of Poor Software Quality report released by the Consortium for IT Software Quality (CISQ) in 2018 shows us that the cost of poor quality in the US alone in 2018 is approximately a staggering $2.84 trillion. Yes, you read that right $2.84 trillion.

Companies are paralyzed.

The uncertainty that COVID-19 has brought seems to have paralyzed some companies from making decisions in IT investments but while this may seem like a safe move, is it really?  

We’re putting all IT projects on hold until we know what’s happening with COVID-19” is typical of what some companies are saying. What does that mean, that you aren’t shipping code, you aren’t fixing bugs or releasing new functionality to better serve your customers? Really? Software Quality and Testing are necessary now more than ever and even if you don’t think you’re going to make changes, you will. If you think those changes won’t break anything, you are wrong.

"The problem is not that testing is the bottleneck. The problem is that you don’t know what’s in the bottle. That’s a problem that testing addresses." - Michael Bolton, author, “Rapid Software Testing”

Another interesting remark from companies is “We’re just going to be in maintenance so holding off IT investments until we know what’s happening with COVID-19.” Great idea but even applications in maintenance need to have strategies to improve their quality. Just because you didn’t find a bug today, doesn’t mean your customer won’t find one tomorrow. It’s only a matter of time.

So due to uncertainty in the market, more and more companies are deciding to put investments on Software Quality on hold. This is instinctive, like waiting for a vaccine, but in the world of Software investing in Quality is the cure.

“You seldom improve quality by cutting costs, but you can often cut costs by improving quality.” - Karl Albrecht

The best way to predict the future is to review the past.

History has taught us that investing in developing quality software products and platforms during difficult financial times can have huge payoffs for those courageous enough. We need only to look to tech giants such as Microsoft, who thrived after the 70’s recession, or Apple and Netflix whose domination of the market began during the dotcom bubble, or even Airbnb who’s rise to prominence within the travel sector started after the 2008 financial crisis, to see the best examples of that.

The benefit of taking steps now.

So just like social measures, to avoid the risk of spread, and personal lifestyle improvements, to reduce the impact of COVID-19, investing in the quality and automation of our IT processes and systems, will help us reduce the risk and impact of failure whilst having the additional benefits of saving costs and providing better solutions for our customers long term.

So whilst the instinct can be to wait, there will come a time when the pandemic is over and those organizations who were willing to invest in optimizing the quality of their IT systems and processes, and therefore reducing the risk and impact of their failure, will come out the other side of the pandemic in a better position than they went in. Those who don’t will be playing catch up.

The old proverb, prevention is better than cure, is as relevant for COVID-19 as it is for our IT systems that we become more and more dependent on. Don’t hesitate and don’t wait. The benefits of taking steps now, to either make yourself or the IT systems we depend on, more resilient, far outweigh the negatives.

Stay Safe.

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