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According to The World Quality Report for 2019–2020, Agile and DevOps are now more important than ever, and broader skills, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), are becoming essential to the Quality Assurance (QA) function within software testing teams. The report also found that the QA function must contribute to business growth and business outcomes. Progressive companies embrace QA as an accelerator to business success and ensure that it doesn’t become a roadblock. Obviously, software defects should always be detected before go-live. But there’s increasing demand for organizations to quickly scale up automation, improve management of test environments and ensure there is an approach to increase testing skills within the organization. It is imperative that organizations stay ahead of key software testing trends to save money and prevent failures.

So how can you build a robust QA organization that will thrive? These are the top trends to consider.

SDETs and Quality Engineering: In today’s current landscape, there’s a lot of demand for software development engineers in test (SDETs). It’s critical that, as an organization, you look to develop the skills of the QA engineers across your teams. All QA teams should have skilled testers with expertise in coding practices and development. Having training and development programs to foster cross-training and rotational growth in this area will be imperative for QA organizations well into the next decade, and companies should plan to create their own pipeline of skilled resources. The development of testers to contribute beyond manual testing has given rise to a well-integrated team that works across disciplines. 

Agile and DevOps:  There is also a high demand for faster product life cycles, quicker releases and small autonomous teams. Many customers are moving towards Agile, one of the fast-paced methodologies, because of its faster delivery, continuous integration and deployment capabilities. The key is to deliver feedback earlier to users and make course corrections as needed. Among startups, it’s common to release a minimum viable product, which is another example of the quicker releases prevailing within the industry space. Shift left is another one of the key concepts which helps improve quality. The earlier the QA, Development (Dev) and Business Analyst (BA) teams collaborate, the more likely the final product will be of higher caliber. Shift right can also be adopted more frequently going forward, which means business users are also involved at the beginning of the development cycle. Agile continues to proliferate with the advent of DevOps. The more continuous integration techniques that are employed to ensure good execution, the better the quality of results. Testing plays a huge part in ensuring Agile is successful.

Shift Left and Right: With the advent of DevOps, it is imperative that QA teams are involved at the start of the Software Development Life Cycle. With agile methodology being prevalent across all organizations, it means multi-skilled testers and development teams are now getting involved in the testing cycle during the early stages. This is what it means to ‘shift left’ – essentially ensuring that the budget allocated to QA provides value and that the QA team be involved from the very beginning of the development lifecycle. The earlier defects are detected, the lower the cost of fixing them. Getting testing resources involved as early as the requirements definitions phase reduces any misunderstanding of the work to be performed, undertaken, and completed. It’s also imperative we ‘shift right’ – or involve the business users during the early software development life cycle. The key to shift right testing is that the software must be continuously tested while simulated in a post-production environment. Combining shift right testing with shift left implementation makes results more visible and improves overall product quality.

AI and ML: The application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) is in the early stages of evolution. The main purpose of this type of testing is to develop algorithms to produce better quality of test deliverables namely test scripts, test results and dashboards. The use of this testing is to develop better analytics to support the team in detecting failures ahead of time and also note high risk areas of the application. Organizations need to determine the best practices for AI/ML. Developing frameworks can also enhance the testing. 

Automation: Automated testing has been around for a long time and will continue to thrive because it reduces user error during the testing process. Test automation can also help the customer develop trust in your software product. There is a shift from licensed software automation tools towards open source tools, like Selenium, ultimately giving organizations with expertise in these tools an edge in the emerging market. Organizations must create a proof of concept to ensure that the selected tool works successfully in the client environment.

Performance Engineering: Performance testing is used to determine whether an application is working as per predefined standards. However, it’s also an indication of how well the selected performance engineering will allow for performance testing to shift left, as it helps build performance throughout the software development life cycle. It’s all about building performance quality right from the beginning of the cycle. Building an organization with performance testers before the start of the project will help preserve overall quality.

Quality as a Part of DevOps: DevOps enables collaboration between various teams, and it provides a holistic view of quality. With QA shifting left and teams becoming more seamless, the whole team must prioritize quality as a key responsibility. The QA team, and all the other teams, should function simultaneously in order to achieve overall project and program objectives. 

Here are some other important considerations for maximizing business impact:

Embrace Mobile Testing: Today’s focus in mobile testing is managing various devices and operating systems. Any organization that can establish a mobile testing lab, take ownership by managing devices, and automate test coverage will have an edge in the current business landscape. Fully integrating DevOps mobile test automation must be a part of this journey. Different operating systems should have different test cases that support overall testing efforts.

Establish Metrics: There are different schools of thought with respect to metrics. Some say software testing is a creative endeavor and that it isn’t useful for measuring creativity. But all stakeholders want to know where their projects stand, so establishing metrics to measure progress is critical to the project’s overall success. Metrics can be used to measure both product quality and the testing itself. Without metrics, how do you know when your quality goals have been achieved? Therefore, there must be a baseline of metrics to measure against so that stakeholders get an all-encompassing view of quality. Especially with the prevalence of Agile methodologies, relevant metrics must be tied back to the user stories–this will also enhance traceability. Behavior-driven testing plays a major part in this approach as it involves collaboration between the Dev, BA and QA teams. Reporting these metrics on a regular basis ensures that project quality is always maintained and the stakeholders are well-informed. This is vital to helping the customer make project decisions and appropriate course corrections, which will eventually lead to better business outcomes.

Invest in Security Testing: Given the publicized security breaches with Equifax and other big-name companies, security is now at the forefront of testing. Security testing can help avoid application vulnerability. Primary areas covered by security testing are authentication, authorization, availability, confidentiality, integrity, and non-repudiation. Cloud-based testing has recently slowed due to security concerns. This is because public clouds share resources between different organizations, and virtualization creates a lot of vulnerabilities. The best way to overcome testing challenges is to secure your environment using adequate controls. Finding expertise in the security testing area is critical to establishing a well-rounded testing organization, and one way to do this is through SecDevOps, which requires shifting left and reinforcing security as a key determinant of overall software quality. This is also a key lubricant to ensuring DevOps works.

QA Involved in Test Environment Setup: QA teams must be well-informed at the beginning of a project to clearly identify the environments to be tested. This may be costly, but it is crucial to have separate environments for different testing efforts, like unit testing, system testing, user acceptance testing, performance testing, and automation testing. Without separate environments, a project timeline can be unnecessarily delayed as equipment is being repurposed for testing. This wasted time can also introduce human error where systems are not properly initialized for each round of tests.

The Scale of Internet of Things (IoT): With IoT growing at a rapid pace, more software applications are operating in various environments. IoT has huge market potential that is expected to connect more than 31 billion IoT devices in 2020, according to Security Today. A robust test strategy is necessary because of the complexity surrounding a slew of devices, regulations, and various modes of communication. Another key to enabling IoT testing is to have a reliable, secure network. To succeed in testing for IoT, you need standards and practices in place early in the adoption of new frameworks. Establish clear standards for various devices and sensors by clearly defining the data needs, creating a real-time dashboard showcasing various activities, and, finally, creating robust controls to ensure security of all systems involved.

Cloud and New Technologies: Innovative technologies like cloud and mobile testing are on the rise. In fact, according to McAfee’s Cloud and Risk Adoption Report, 87% percent of companies experience business acceleration by using cloud services, and 52% of organizations experience better security in the cloud than with on-premise IT environments. This might cause businesses to opt for testing as a service (TaaS) options. TaaS is an outsourcing model in which testing activities associated with an organization’s business activities are performed by a service provider rather than by the organization’s own testing resources.

Big Data: Big data is a term that describes enormous quantities of data generated from a business on a daily basis. This is an emerging trend worldwide, and a lot of organizations (thanks to social media) have access to data they only dreamed about in the past. The main premise is that this data can be analyzed for key insights that eventually lead to better decisions and business moves that help the organization. The essential point for software testing teams is ensuring the highest order of security when validating a large amount of data.

This is an exciting time to be in the software testing industry. Every testing organization should carefully consider these top trends in order to maximize the business impact of their QA function. 

Orion has been developing products and doing quality assurance for clients for three decades.  Learn more about our Quality Assurance Services.

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