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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Leveraging Software Testing to Optimize Mobile Apps for DHS Agencies

Federal agencies rely on mobile apps to enable staff and serve the public. A new study shows how AI-powered software testing can help apps deliver on their promise.

The perception that “there’s an app for that” is no longer limited to commercial sectors. Federal agencies have deployed a plethora of mobile apps to help employees do their jobs more efficiently and to deliver a wealth of services to citizens. Agencies under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Defense (DOD) are no exception.

As agencies make more apps available, and as citizens and employees rely on more apps in their daily lives, the bar is raised on app performance and functionality. Yet many agencies struggle to deliver the app quality and experiences expected by users. One reason is that the crucial step of software testing is often overlooked during app development.

Those are key takeaways from Tricentis’ State of Mobile Application Quality Report 2024. The research surveyed more than 1,000 senior IT pros in the United States and other countries, with more than 100 respondents in the U.S. public sector.

The good news is that organizations acknowledge the value of apps in fulfilling their respective mission. They also recognize the central role of software testing and, increasingly, the power of artificial intelligence (AI) and other forms of automation to transform software testing and deliver and maintain consistently effective mobile apps.

Meeting the Mobile App Imperative

DHS and related agencies deliver a broad range of apps. Some, like the DHS Intel app, enable department leaders, decision-makers, and partners to access intelligence information and alerts. Others are designed to serve the public. For example, the myTSA app provides millions of airline passengers with airport security information, while the FEMA app lets citizens get real-time weather alerts, locate emergency shelters, and connect with resources if they’ve been affected by a disaster. 

DOD, for its part, supports warfighters with solutions like the Tactical Assault Kit (TAK), which extends to mobile devices. The military also maintains a portfolio of apps for prospective, current, and former personnel. These include the MilProvider app, which helps service members and their families access services, and the Digital Garrison app, a one-stop information source for U.S. Army communities. 

Public sector participants in the State of Mobile Application Quality Report confirm the importance of such apps. In fact, 83% of agency respondents note that app quality is crucial to their operations.

Yet many apps fall short of meeting user demands. Agencies say the most common user complaints include unsupported devices or platforms (44% of respondents), buggy or slow experiences (41%), a lack of native-app availability (39%), and difficult-to-use interfaces (31%).

The Central Role of Software Testing

As public sector organizations recognize these gaps, they also acknowledge the beneficial role software testing can play in improving app performance. Some 88% deem testing important to the quality and success of app development. And 69% expect to invest more than $500,000 each in-app testing and quality in 2024.

Agencies agree that more effective and automated software testing can deliver tangible advantages. These range from increased productivity (39%) to improved app quality (35%) to enhanced user experiences (31%) and increased accessibility (23%).

At the same time, they feel their testing strategies are falling short. Nearly three-quarters automate less than one-half of their testing processes. And 23% believe their app development and testing strategy needs improvement.

The challenges to optimized app development and testing are legion, including competing priorities (31%), cost (30%), cross-platform compatibility (26%), tech resource limitations (25%), time and project management limitations (23%), lack of tech talent or upskilling (23%), and complexity (22%).

AI for Testing Automation

Fortunately, a growing number of public sector organizations are looking to optimize their app development and software testing with AI, low-code/no-code solutions, and other types of testing automation.

Some 71% feel positive about integrating AI into testing processes, and 31% say AI is already part of their testing strategy. Another 30% plan to implement AI tools in the next year.

Agencies are optimistic about the benefits they’ll achieve from automated testing. They anticipate advantages such as increased productivity (31%), user retention (25%), higher user satisfaction (23%), and improved cross-device compatibility (21%).

Best Practices for Automated App Testing

Fortunately for app-wielding federal agencies, effective software testing solutions are available to replace manual, labor-intensive app testing with automated and AI-powered processes. An end-to-end testing platform will enable them to integrate mobile testing into their broader software testing strategy.

Organizations should look for a testing solution that supports model-based test automation. That will enable them to rapidly create mobile tests and then use them as building blocks for a variety of testing scenarios on native apps, hybrid apps, and mobile websites on both iOS and Android devices.

A solution with low-code/no-code capabilities can streamline and automate testing, offloading testing tasks from in-demand application developers and allowing non-technical employees to help with app quality assurance. A scalable platform will support the demands of large organizations like DHS and DOD.

Mobile apps are a growing necessity for public sector employees and the customers they serve – from law enforcement to first responders, from warfighters to support personnel, and for the businesses and individuals that interact with the federal government. And as the State of Mobile Application Quality Report reveals, automated software testing is seen as critical in helping make sure government apps serve the needs of agencies and the public alike.

author avatar
Ben Baldi
Ben Baldi has spent more than 15 years delivering solutions to federal and state government agencies to help them achieve their mission through IT modernization. He currently leads Tricentis’ public sector team, working closely with DOD and civilian agency customers to provide automated low code software testing. Under Baldi’s leadership, federal customers have seen over 300% improvement in application release rates and a 10x accelerated rate of software delivery. They’ve also seen manual testing needs reduced by 80%, while software quality and risk coverage improved by 90%. With nearly 15 years of experience in federal technology, he serves as a champion for his federal customers, driving digital transformation and compliance with all Executive Orders and standards via end-to-end testing automation. Prior to Tricentis, Baldi was vice president of public sector for SolarWinds, a leading provider of observability and IT management software. There he led federal sales, sales engineering, and channel and work to ensure the federal government had the tools and services needed to support its mission-critical workloads. In his more than eight years at SolarWinds, he played a pivotal role in building out the company’s federal practice and go-to-market strategy. Baldi held similar roles at Sumo Logic, a cloud-based machine data analytics company, and Delinea, a provider of privileged access management solutions, and Carahsoft, the federal government’s largest IT partner.
Ben Baldi
Ben Baldi
Ben Baldi has spent more than 15 years delivering solutions to federal and state government agencies to help them achieve their mission through IT modernization. He currently leads Tricentis’ public sector team, working closely with DOD and civilian agency customers to provide automated low code software testing. Under Baldi’s leadership, federal customers have seen over 300% improvement in application release rates and a 10x accelerated rate of software delivery. They’ve also seen manual testing needs reduced by 80%, while software quality and risk coverage improved by 90%. With nearly 15 years of experience in federal technology, he serves as a champion for his federal customers, driving digital transformation and compliance with all Executive Orders and standards via end-to-end testing automation. Prior to Tricentis, Baldi was vice president of public sector for SolarWinds, a leading provider of observability and IT management software. There he led federal sales, sales engineering, and channel and work to ensure the federal government had the tools and services needed to support its mission-critical workloads. In his more than eight years at SolarWinds, he played a pivotal role in building out the company’s federal practice and go-to-market strategy. Baldi held similar roles at Sumo Logic, a cloud-based machine data analytics company, and Delinea, a provider of privileged access management solutions, and Carahsoft, the federal government’s largest IT partner.

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