Technology has made it to every aspect of our lives. Talking robots, online assistants and smart home devices no longer surprise us.
The influence of technology is growing, and businesses strive to take full advantage of it. For many companies, digital transformation is a way to speed up processes, support innovations, and embrace and open up new opportunities.
Quality assurance, being the indispensable part of the software development life cycle, has a key role along the path of digital transformation. Introducing quality checkpoints ensures the achievement of the planned business outcomes and flawless end-user experience and satisfaction, which is the objective of every digital endeavor.
How digital transformation changes QA
Digital transformation has significantly influenced the ways QA and software testing are performed and how the results are achieved.
Here are the main improvements:
Testing throughout the software life cycle
QA is no longer done at the end of the software development life cycle. Digital transformation has brought about the need to perform testing continuously. More and more often, testers are not asked to check the app functionality once the developers have deemed it to be ready. Today, testing and dev teams work in collaboration, doing their best to deliver a high-quality solution. To ensure testing accuracy and flexibility, organizations adopt Agile and DevOps practices.
But there are some exceptions. Many organizations still run software testing once the development is finished. Mainly, these are the companies representing highly regulated business sectors, such as the healthcare domain. For the projects that use medical devices, a key component for the product to be released to market is the approval by the FDA. To receive this approval, the company has to submit test results obtained on different stages of software development, including the final test results.
The obligatory final testing, however, doesn't count out the need of testing throughout the development life cycle. As a rule, such projects are tested during all development stages with the end-to-end tests run at the very end, and the results are documented as required by FDA policies.
On the other side of the coin, there are IT-driven companies engaged in social media or digital marketing business who tend to be much more agile. Due to their nature, they have to respond to feedback from users and implement changes as fast as possible. Of course, testing of new releases and new products will run continuously. Fast feedback allows these companies to support their loyal audience and minimize business risks.
Introduction of new roles
As the needs of QA and testing change, new roles have to be created to take control of different functions and operations. A few examples are test designers, test analysts and software development engineers in test (SDETs). These roles mainly serve as a bridge between testers and developers and improve their collaboration.
Another profession is data engineer, who simplifies the data analysis process within a company and ensures that analysts timely receive accurate data.
Testing tools augmentation
The variety of tools and techniques testers use has grown. To increase quality awareness, QA makes use of the latest analytical technologies to get data from various social and commercial sources. The data provides insight into the customer experience and can further be used in critical business decision-making.
Recent examples include ALM Octane, a lifecycle management tool that allows organizations to run Waterfall and Agile projects. Appium is another powerful tool that allows performing automated testing of mobile apps. Appium isn't the first of a kind, but for now, it's the best one. BDD projects have got the advantage of the frameworks like HipTest and Cucumber.
A transition toward quality engineering
Last but not least, more and more organizations reinvent testing in quality engineering. The main difference is that while testing is reactive and catches defects in the developed software, quality engineering is proactive and prevents bugs from entering the code base.
This is achieved by not simply shifting testing left in the cycle but addressing quality even earlier. Testers are invited to join the software design sessions where they can think of ways to build testability from the very start. It's also very important to test software requirements at the very start of the project. And this is another activity that should be performed by QA engineers. Early requirements testing allows eliminating inaccuracies and ambiguities before the code is written, which is much cheaper, of course.
Not always the requirements testing is performed with all the formalities observed. Sometimes, the QA team is invited to ask early questions and detect the bottlenecks. This can also work well.
How QA helps organizations not to be overwhelmed by digital transformation
As we see, digital transformation changes QA. On the other hand, QA supports the digital endeavor. Software testing efforts strengthen the product and eliminate security, performance, usability, and other risks that new technology poses.
A well-built quality assurance function helps the business meet three goals of the digital initiative: ensure high end user satisfaction, protect its reputation and increase quality awareness. Now let us see what activities help QA accomplish its mission in the digital transformation context.
- QA elicits end-user requirements, considers them when designing test cases, and tests and measures customer experience across multiple channels. This helps identify areas to improve and increases brand consistency across multiple digital platforms.
- Through proper test automation, QA gives organizations the speed they need during testing. Automation helps achieve the goals of DevOps and Agile. But it is very important to carefully choose a test automation approach that will fit the company’s software development and testing requirements most. It's not uncommon for test engineers to be invited to the project and copme across a test automation solution that didn't consider the end-user scenarios or where test cases were prepared by different engineers and couldn't be compiled into one turnkey solution. Of course, such scenarios had to be fixed, which implied additional project costs.
- QA accelerates transformation by means of software-level automation and, more importantly, the entire life cycle automation. This can be achieved with the introduction of DevOps and continuous delivery practices.
A proper QA function provides the full quality picture and allows analyzing software usage results in various browsers and operating systems and on desktop and mobile devices. However, to make it a reality and get the most of QA on the way to digital transformation, it is very important to address the talent gap.
Digital transformation initiatives will need new ways to manage bugs, and a tester with a traditional skill set may not have the right experience to face the challenge. That is why organizations have to either train/retrain their in-house resources or find a team of professionals with the right skills to support their transformation.
User demands and expectations are constantly increasing, and it is becoming more and more difficult to meet these growing demands and ensure a flawless end-user experience.
Quality assurance and software testing enable organizations to effectively adopt new and emerging digital technologies and guarantee the desired customer experience. Hence, leading enterprises and top-ranking CIOs are focusing specifically on QA to successfully implement digital transformation initiatives. They also recognize quality-associated risks and spend a large portion of their IT budget on the QA function.
In turn, QA elevates the digital customer experience and ensures the reliability of the software. With this coverage, companies can confidently embark on ambitious digital transformation projects.