Is quality assurance holding back your agile development efforts?


Does the software testing process hamper your ability to introduce new applications quickly enough to meet market demand? For an overwhelming number of companies, the answer is yes. Quality assurance experts insist it’s a problem that has to be solved if they are to see the results of digital transformation. All of the work that companies are doing in agile and rapid development can be undone by traditional software testing methods.

The need for more rapid development is real. Ninety-four per cent of senior managers say they face increased pressure to release applications more quickly, Jonathon Wright, chief technology evangelist with CA Technologies, told participants at a recent ITWC webinar. Rising customer expectations, competitive threats and advancements in technology are forcing companies to pick up the pace of development, said Wright. Sponsored by CA Technologies and hosted by ITWC CIO Jim Love, the webinar looked at the current obstacles to speedy software testing and outlined the latest best practices to overcome them.

Moving at the speed of quality

Typically, it takes most large organizations 18 months to respond to changes in the marketplace, said Wright. Due to the potential for “massive digital disruption, he said organizations don’t have the luxury of time anymore.”

At the same time, two-thirds of business leaders say the future of their business depends on the quality of their software. Seventy-nine per cent of users will abandon a site if they don’t quickly find what they need.

But the biggest challenge to improving quality assurance processes isn’t technology, said Wright. It’s the culture. “It’s about getting ready for the change from a people, a mindset and a process perspective,” said Wright. “The practices and behaviours have to change.”

Faster delivery with Digital Assurance

The solution, according to Wright, is a new approach to quality assurance. which he termed “digital assurance.”

One of the key concepts in “digital assurance” stems from what is termed ‘shifting left and right’. ‘Shifting left’ means that organizations need to think about testing much earlier in the lifecycle. For example, test cases should be generated when the requirements are developed.

The second key concept, ‘Shifting right’, focuses on getting early customer feedback. Knowing why the customer wants a feature can make a significant difference in the quality of the results.

Real Life Results

“A big challenge is that a lot of organizations are still doing testing activities sequentially,” said Wright. “If you can’t do continuous testing, you’re going to get stuck.”

Wright provided real life examples of where implementing this process has proven to be successful in large-scale organizations such as ING. Adopting continuous release and continuous quality led to a 97 per cent improvement in time to market for new applications and software updates. Wright also pointed out that his own company, CA Technologies, has used digital assurance to move from one major release every year to a new release every month.

“When you build this into your process with DevOps and you change the culture, the processes and the tools, you can get incredible results, said Julie Gardiner, director of product management with CA Technologies. “You’ll wonder why you weren’t doing it ages ago.”

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