Got Drupal? What You Need to Know About Maintainability, Quality Assurance & Automation

February 13, 2020
blog author

Danielle Edwards dos Santos

Quality Assurance Manager, Global Managed Services

Got Drupal? What you need to know about maintainability, quality assurance and automation

Content Management System Tips for Your Business

If you’re a web developer, content marketing specialist, marketing automation manager or webmaster, you’ve probably heard of Drupal. Drupal is a powerful content management system (CMS) that has helped many enterprises more easily manage their web applications and content. Marketers and content strategists no longer need to depend on the information technology (IT) team to publish and maintain content. Drupal lets you personalize your publishing workflows, videos, blogs, manage social media integrations, and more. And digital marketers who are also managed services providers (MSPs), like Appnovation, all know that content personalization is big right now. 

Web application updates require security and integration checks

The popularity of Drupal keeps growing as businesses’ digital marketing and digital performance priorities expand. And Drupal’s website modules, web functionality and business customization capabilities are growing too. Drupal frequently releases security updates, which helps keep web applications secure. Yet each update requires recurring validations to keep the existing functionality of the application features secure, bug-free and workable with other technologies. Each update can be a systems integration challenge. 

If you have a Drupal application (or any mobile platform or content management system, like Wordpress, for example), you may have encountered a situation where you applied an update that introduced a bug or unwanted glitch to your custom business rules and workflows. Frequent updates and the risk to existing functionality can create a continuous challenge for IT operations, developers, quality assurance (QA) specialists and other stakeholders. So how do you keep your site functional, stable, and secure despite ongoing updates? How do you maintain the integrity of your technology ecosystem without overloading your IT team or consuming too many valuable resources? One word: automation

Digital performance investment is like home building and maintenance

Before discussing automation options, let's look at a common layman’s scenario that puts the website maintenance dilemma into perspective. Let’s compare a coding engineering assignment to a construction project. Imagine your website as a construction site. Now imagine your goal is to build a house. You’ve planned, budget and designed the build. You’ve hired your contractors, outsourced to professionals and built the house. Unfortunately, you have not budgeted anything for maintenance. Time passes. Your roof needs replacing, you’ve got plumbing problems and your lawn and garden are a mess. You also replace the locks regularly for security reasons, but you didn’t notice that your custom front door can be easily unhinged, leaving your precious house and its contents open to the world. Alas, a theft occurs. How could you have prevented this?

Like your house, your website needs proactive attention

Like your house, your website needs proactive attention and continuous maintenance. This is true not only on the front end (security and functional bug fixes) but also on the back end (business rules to accommodate new regulations, integration of new technologies, etcetera). The maintainability of your website demands a consistent allocation from your budget, sometimes even more than your managed service hosting fee. But you need to budget smartly. Think about it. Most people’s annual maintenance budget doesn’t exceed their property taxes, but perhaps it should. Think about it the same way with your website. It’s not unusual for companies to spend more on application maintenance than web hosting and managed service provider costs.

Quality standards and quality assurance are different for every digital business

When most people think about coding, they think about fixing or building digital assets. But if you’re not paying the same amount of attention to ongoing monitoring and analyzing the side effects of technology upgrades, your business may be at risk. That’s where your quality standards come into play. These may differ accordingly with your business. Back to our house analogy, if your house is empty, then the weak door would not bring as much financial risk. It’s the same with software. If you have a financial or e-commerce application, you must ensure no side effects arise from your code push. You will require a strong validation and it may make sense to automate checklists as much as you can. On the other hand, if you have a brochure site, you might not need all that validation. 

Your quality assurance team or managed services partner can be there to help out, acting as a defence team. They will not ‘fix your door’, but they can analyze the risks and recommend solutions. In other words, they can help you recognize when ‘changing the locks’ is the answer to preventing theft – and when it’s not! Unfortunately, some website owners are reluctant to invest in web quality and web maintainability. This could cause issues in terms of business operations, customer experience and reputation management. Particularly now, when we are shifting code standards to adhere to the European Union's General Protection Data Requirements (GDPR) regulations and other global or regional data privacy needs, it’s more important than ever for global digital enterprises to evaluate their quality standards and quality assurance requirements.

Automation options for Drupal and other website systems

Because the software world is so dynamic, things can get out-of-date fairly quickly. Your roof can take years before it requires maintenance. Unfortunately, your website does not have the luxury of time when it comes to maintenance. The risk of exposure due to software bugs is ever-present. Your challenge is to strategically evaluate how much you should be investing to minimize the side effects of updates and change management.

Defining what is important to your business is the first step. Documenting your most important scenarios is the second. Then you can think about the budget and automation of your checklists. You want to protect your assets. With that in mind, get started defining what is important to you. Unfortunately, automating everything is not the answer. The maintainability of this type of automation coverage is challenging and costly. The secret is to prioritize and protect what is important, and your automation priorities should reflect that. New managed service partners experienced in digital performance may be able to help you identify your website maintenance threats and opportunities, prioritize your automation requirements and develop a plan that builds corporate agility and readiness to protect what really matters in your business.

Defining what is important to your business is the first step

An MSP known for digital performance, quality assurance and automation solutions

Managed Services at Appnovation, has implemented digital performance and custom automation for more than 50 clients in different industries, keeping their websites up-to-date with the latest technology and quality standards. We are well-versed in different types of frameworks (Katalon, Selenium, Cucumber, Behat, Robot Framework, Wraith and Applitools, to name a few). Give us a call if you are concerned about your quality standards, or if you’re thinking about a customized quality solution for your business. A managed services subscription adds to your business expertise, manage or support website maintenance, build quality automation capabilities, and augment your internal operational services.

Here are just some of the platforms, technologies and content management systems that Appnovation supports and maintains:

  • Drupal
  • Wordpress
  • Contentful, Netlify
  • Atlassian
  • MuleSoft
  • React Native, ReactJS, VueJS, GatsbyJS
  • Mobile (iOS, Android, Cross-Platform Hybrid)
  • Cloud platforms like Google, AWS, Rackspace and Microsoft Azure
  • Acquia, Pantheon