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Trends in Software Quality Assurance & Test Today

Quality is now front and centre for organisations and as IT enabled change practices change and evolve so the requirement for SQA and Testing to change and evolve in parallel continues. So, what does this look like at present.

  • Testing seen as a specialist professional skill. As testing is seen more as a separate professional competency more testers see Test as a long-term career rather than stepping stone.
  • “Digital” drives everything, particularly speed of delivery and quality at speed. Most organisations are responding to this by Increasing the use of Agile techniques and an increasing migration to DevOps
  • The increasing trend to Agile/DevOps is Increasing the focus on the use of test automation – both in these Agile projects and for ongoing regression
  • With the greater focus on “quality” business and customer outcomes Testers are more involved across the full lifecycle of the change and also performing broader roles.
  • With the increasing focus on speed and the increasing complexity of multi layered technical environments, Test Environment management (TEM) and Test Data Management (TDM) are now a particular focus for organisations. Test Professionals are increasingly involved in managing these areas.
  • The percentage of overall IT budget being consumed by Testing increased in the years 2015 to 2018 but appears to have dropped back more recently. This may be due to fact that as organisations initially ramped up the Agile projects greater direct testing resources were required and with Agile/DevOps maturing the quality process is more embedded, more of the team are involved in testing, and there are less costs directly attributable to testing.
  • With the greater pressure for “quality at speed” testing everything all the time is impossible. Consequently, there is a greater focus on the use of advanced techniques - risk based testing, statistical based planning to focus effort where it will be most effective/valuable within the time available.
  • Statistical based planning and process improvement need data to be effective so there is a greater focus on measurement – the use of standard SQA metrics to measure and manage quality and to guide quality improvement actions.
  • Looking at industry reports there appears to be a trend where testing teams in North America, Western Europe and Australia are becoming smaller, while in contrast teams in India, Asia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East keep getting bigger. These trends could be due to the increased use of offshoring using large scale industrialised organisatons in the Far East with smaller local teams. It could also be due to smaller organisations maturing to having small dedicated test teams where previously testing was less specialized/organized or where the local resources are co-ordinating/integrating outsourced/offshored testing.
  • This is complemented by a 1:1 ratio of people reporting themselves to be in Lead/management roles to Tester roles.

All of the above is reflected in the roles/structures Vantage clients are operating and the trends in numbers and types of resource requests.

In the current environment what should organisations be doing?

Focus on Quality through the lifecycle of the change not just relying on a Testing phase to find all the problems.

Treat SQA and testing as a specialist professional discipline and hire, contract in, develop the SQA and Test professionals you need.

Have SQA and Testing as an independent function. This unit is normally part of IT but can also be part of an overall quality or quality assurance function.

Have a common and consistent approach. Build/Acquire a “best practice” approach and standardise it across the organisation.

Have an expert core SQA and Test group or partner up with an expert who can supply what is needed.

Make sure you get longer term value from your investment in SQA and Test. This implies some level of formalised approach to SQA and Test which is repeatable and which ideally is built on project by project. A formalised approach normally has 3 areas of focus:-

  • People – partner, contract in and/or develop your own test specialists. Testing is an experiential learning discipline – on the job, supported by good training, mentoring. 
  • Process – Build/buy/partner with a specialist organisation to have the SQA and Test framework that is right for your organisation. Formulate a plan to introduce it and roll it out across the organisation.
  • Technology – Reusable test environments, test databases with historic data. Tooling to support SQA and test, test plan libraries, test case management, defect management, metrics, traceability and root cause analysis and continuous improvement.

At Vantage Resources we use our METISURE framework to guide our delivery of services to client  Theserange from strategic services such as Client Quality Capability Assessments and Quality Roadmap definition, to providing full testing support for individual change projects. This covers Quality Strategy definition at Programme/Project initiation, through Estimation, Test Planning, Execution, Management, Implementation Support and Post Implementation reviews. We supply the specialist Testing resources necessary to ensure a quality implementation.

Vantage Resources can help you!

Ideally you should be able to answer a definite Yes to the following 3 questions:-

1.   Are you totally confident in your Quality Assurance and Testing model(s)?

2.   Could you clearly stand over them as best practice in the event of an issue?

3.   Would they stand up to external scrutiny?

If you have any concerns in attempting to answer the 3 questions you should be talking to us.

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