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December 3, 2013

Test tools automation: the billion-dollar problem

Startup useMango’s Carl Thompson speaks to CBR why companies are wasting money when it comes to installing test tools automation.

By Joe Curtis

UseMango fulfills a very specific need in the test tools space, could you explain a little about what problem the product was built to solve?

UseMango is essentially is a piece of intellectual property developed inside Infuse Consulting, a consulting business for performance testing, but now has been spun off into a separate entity so that it can grow and develop in its own right.

The technology we’ve developed here is designed to address a problem people have had getting test automation tools deployed in their organisation. There’s some big vendors out there, large corporates, for whom testing is not nearly as optimum as it could be.

The purpose of automation is to speed up the testing process and to make it replicable, creating automated test cases, running them, getting the results and saving them. So you have the initial application you’re testing, then the test tools are sat on top of it, and useMango sits on top of the test tools.

Historically people have tried to install these test tools manually then maybe have got in some consultants to help them. The tools then need to be maintained and companies haven’t necessarily got the investment to do that. So the test tools suite falls into disrepair and therefore gets a reputation for not working.

How big is this problem? Test tools automation is a billion-dollar industry. In our experience in a test automation project if it’s a £100,000 investment it might be a fifty-fifty split between software and services to get that software working. That’s a lot of inefficient spend. If we can cut that by 90% that billion dollar industry becomes £100m so the investment is dramatically reduced.

Is that how effective your software is in speeding up that process?

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We recently worked with an insurance company where the effort to automate the quote generation business came to 47 hours for an in-house automation engineer. The same work with the useMango tool took 3.39 hours. That’s a 95% time saving.

UseMango helps the organisation deploy the test tools faster and more efficiently. It’s essentially a scanning tool, so to deploy test tools software requires you to put in a whole raft of information and objects from the application itself. UseMango scans an application for all the objects required to deploy the test tools and deploys them automatically.

You can build the test cases and then go and get the components you need from the applications to then run those test cases automatically.

There’s also the acceleration of the testing process. Every bug you find in the testing phase costs you one pound to fix, but every bug you find in the development phase costs you ten pounds to fix, and every bug you find after you’ve released it costs you 100 pound to fix, not to mention the reputational damage. Our scanner technology means automated testing can be developed quickly and executed frequently over many test cycles.

So at the moment your software is integrated with HP’s tools, the market leader. What are your plans to work with other big names in the market?

HP has a 45% market share. Other major vendors are IBM with its Rational tools suite; Microfocus and then Microsoft has its Team Foundation Server test tools suite.

Oracle is an up and coming player in this area too. It is pushing hard into the HP market share with a view to replacing HP wherever it can.

In a year’s time we want all the major test applications covered, all major ERP applications covered from a test perspective, and see how that can all be funded by Infuse, we don’t need to go get external funding for that.

Are there any you’re prioritising right now?

What we’re now developing is an interface into Oracle’s testing tools with Oracle’s applications and we expect that to be ready by March next year. But our priority is to get an SAP scanner built.

We’ve got one already but it needs repackaging. That’s going to be ready in time for HP Discover on December 10.

That’s a lot of expansion – do you expect your customer base to grow accordingly? And will you stay UK-centric or try and move out to other markets?

Currently we have 100 users of the tool. We’re expecting to grow that to 1,000 users over the next three years, which would make us about £2.4m revenue. I think it’s very do-able and it’s just the beginning.

Our focus has been the UK market and for that you have to be based in London. We see massive growth coming from the US in particular and we will probably open a US office, probably by the end of 2014. I think we are going to have to have a presence in either Boston, Silicon Valley or Denver.

You’re a startup in a market full of large tech enterprises – have you considered the possibility of one of them just making an offer for the company?

Yes that’s a possibility. I think Oracle, HP, CSC, sure. These are all potential acquirers of the tool. Essentially it was developed with a view to transforming the industry, rather than getting a big cheque, but who knows what kind of interest it will generate?

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