Third-party certification services for Product companies or Cloud storesSathish Thiruvenkataswamy
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Software product companies are continually launching new products and new apps targeting retail and corporate customers. These software products undergo rigorous internal testing, followed by a possible beta testing before being opened for full-fledged commercial usage. However, with increased competition in the application products space, the product lifecycle from conception to market is getting shorter and shorter. This shortening of the cycle risks the software not being comprehensively tested, resulting in poor user experience. When applied to corporate-focused software, the risk of bad quality software could magnify into multi-million dollars.
In this blog, I would like to focus on corporate customers.
How can corporate customers safeguard themselves?
When a software was built bespoke, the corporate customers controlled the business requirements and the user acceptance testing phases. The user acceptance testing tended to be deep and thorough as the business testers were completely aware of the functionalities expected in the software. However, when a corporate customer purchases a third-party software, they depend heavily on the software vendor to test their base product thoroughly. The customer’s user acceptance testing tends to focus only on the customization done for the customer. A similar risky situation prevails in the product’s cloud offering, where third-party apps are integrated into the product via the marketplace to provide additional functionality.
Given this situation, how can corporate customers de-risk themselves, and how can the product vendor prove their software’s worth to the customer?
An independent third-party certifying partner provides the service to solve this problem.
What are the characteristics of an independent third-party certifier?
The big audit firms like KPMG, Deloitte, PwC have been providing this certification service for a long time. Their credentials as statutory audit firms have also helped them extend their services to the software quality certification market. However, the ability to provide this service is not limited only to audit firms but is also open to other IT quality services firms.
The critical attributes for a successful third-party certifier are as follows:
- Deep domain knowledge
- Strong relationship within product ecosystem and the customers
- Robust compliance and ethical practices
Deep Domain Knowledge
If the third party’s certification must be credible, their subject matter expertise in the industry domain should be unquestionable. Their knowledge and visibility within the industry need to precede their certification service offering.
The best way to reach this exalted industry status is to focus on one or two domains to build deep expertise. The investments by the firm in terms of people, tools, and processes should be focused on dominating this space before spreading to other domains. It takes time and repeated high quality of delivery before a firm can establish its expertise in the market.
Acquiring people with relevant subject matter expertise is the more accessible part of this complex puzzle. A well-established firm should not find it challenging to attract experts who can build the rest of the organization. The more demanding piece of the puzzle is building tools and industry credibility, enabling the organization to be recognized as a certifying authority. In regulated industries like BFSI, Health care, etc., these tools and certifications might need to pass through regulatory doors. So, the presence of credible industry experts and processes will be essential to go over this hurdle.
Once the firm sets up the essential ingredients, going out into the market and winning certification business is the final proof of the pudding. There is a clear need in the market for credible firms to certify industry software and cloud apps. Therefore, by establishing credibility in the subject matter, the firm will have taken its most vital first step to win in the market.
Strong relationships within the ecosystem
A certifying partner needs a strong relationship with both the product and the customer ecosystem, which it can leverage for the business. To earn the market’s trust, the firm will need to invest in people and processes to stay close to the products throughout their lifecycle. The subject matter experts will need to continuously update their product knowledge so that they can design & update test scenarios, tools, and their verification processes. The firm will need to collaborate with the product firms to make this continuous process possible.
The other side of the relationship coin is the customer. The firm needs to showcase its independence continuously to the customer side of the ecosystem. Without this well-understood independence, the certification will lose credibility and, therefore, the business. One of the best ways is to build references within the industry by proven work and open communication about these successes.
Robust compliance and ethical practices
Credibility is the deal breaker for any certification business. If customers doubt the certification processes or the ethical practices of the firm, the business will collapse. So, the certifying firms must demonstrate complete transparency, accountability, and auditability. In regulated industries, the firm should not miss out on any of the regulatory compliances and showcase these to the industry participants as a badge of honor.
For internal processes such as recruitment and human resource policies, the firm needs to adopt zero-tolerance policies, which should periodically weed out bad apples before they rot the basket.
Who are the buyers of this service?
Third-party certification services can be pull or push, i.e. bought by the product vendor or the customer. Many product companies subject themselves to certification audits by credible firms and display that as proof of viability. We see this pull mechanism rapidly increasing, considering the importance of upcoming product companies or corporate apps to differentiate themselves and quickly win the market.
On the push side, corporate customers request third party independent certification, predominantly for their mission-critical applications. In today’s digital world, customers are in a hurry to introduce newer features and solutions to the market. So, the application landscape is flooded with third-party products, which reduces the time to market considerably over bespoke applications. Mission-critical applications like core banking systems, exchange trading systems, payments processing systems are also increasingly being bought out rather than built in house. So, customers have started to insist on product companies getting their products and upgrades certified by their preferred certification service providers before allowing them in their environments for user acceptance testing.
Cigniti is the world’s leading Independent Quality Engineering & Software Testing services company, bringing the power of AI into Agile and DevOps to accelerate enterprise digital transformation.
Cigniti has developed deep domain expertise through its Industry Centers of Excellence. We have a proprietary AI-based quality engineering platform, BlueSwan, for Continuous Testing & Test Automation. We adopt a zero-compromise attitude to regulatory compliances and follow world-class processes in quality assurance. Cigniti is ideally suited to be a third-party independent certifier of choice for the industry players with a razor-sharp focus on these three pillars.
Need help? Contact our subject matter experts to learn more about the third-party independent verification & certification services for product companies or cloud stores.