It’s an exciting time in the software testing and quality assurance space as the industry is constantly innovating – providing new ways to optimize testing and integrate it into automated development pipelines. However, despite the many advances in cloud computing, AI, and CI/CD, a recent study from mabl entitled The 2021 Testing in DevOps Report, revealed that pros still consider software and web application testing to be a pain point. The reason -- many teams are using high-maintenance legacy solutions that can fall short in today’s fast-paced and often complex world of software development.
However, despite these challenges, the Testing in DevOps Report, which surveyed over 600 QA and DevOps professionals, found that most teams today are playing an important role in advancing their organization’s DevOps maturity by embracing quality engineering and expanding automated testing throughout their development pipeline.
QUALITY ENGINEERING IS NOT MERELY A CATCHPHRASE
Despite the aspirations of many software development teams to embrace DevOps in their organizations, the survey found that just 11% of software professionals consider their teams to be “fully DevOps,” indicating that most teams are still finding ways to practice automated, collaborative, and iterative development practices.
Today the term “quality engineering” or QE is more than just a popular catchphrase but rather an important framework for how modern software development can adopt DevOps while also improving the customer experience. The report found a strong connection between full DevOps adoption and mature testing practices: over 50% of fully DevOps teams say they have a culture of quality, where testing is performed early and often in the development cycle.
QE thrives in an environment where a culture of quality has been established and continuous testing is practised through a combination of manual and automated testing, which allows a wider group of stakeholders to participate in an organization’s quality strategy.
CONTINUOUS TESTING LOWERS RISK AND IMPROVES MORALE
It’s hard to believe, but 2022 marks the 21st anniversary of the Agile Manifesto, which launched the development of advanced software engineering practices centred around collaboration and supportive work communities. Fast forward two decades, continuous testing (CT) is becoming closely intertwined with the adoption of Agile and DevOps practices. CT encourages software development teams to view testing not merely as the last phase of development right before production, but rather as a holistic practice where testing activities are integrated throughout the software development lifecycle.
According to the mabl report, early-stage DevOps adopters with few agile practices implemented are twice as likely as fully DevOps teams to report only testing the right code goes into production. Unsurprisingly, this means that aspiring DevOps organizations are eight times more likely to describe their test coverage as the bare minimum, resulting in higher stress and more error-prone deployments that lower morale and risk defects slipping into production. Mature continuous testing practices have a domino effect that results in lower stress for the entire development organization.
BREAKING DOWN SILOS: MATURE DEVELOPMENT PRACTICES MEAN A CULTURE OF INCLUSION
In theory, most people abhor the practice of silos, however, in the day-to-day, it is easy to fall back on such practices in the rush to development and production. That said, the mabl report found that one in three DevOps practitioners are recognizing the benefits of inclusion and collaboration. When entire teams can work together on product quality, software testing ceases to be a bottleneck in the development process, allowing for the wider team to be involved – communication is active ensuring the right questions are asked, and quality practices are observed – even for the non-functional requirements.
The upshot, when entire teams collaborate on product quality, software testing is no longer a bottleneck. Almost half of fully DevOps teams - 43% - report identifying bugs early in development, compared to just 16% of aspiring DevOps teams. When bugs are caught earlier in the development process, they become much faster to resolve: 62% of DevOps teams are able to fix bugs within eight hours, while even most DevOps teams need 8-24 hours to address defects. For a fifth of aspiring DevOps teams, bug fixes take two days to repair, and a serious delay if deployments happen on a daily, weekly, or bi-weekly basis.
CONNECT CODE TO CUSTOMER WITH HIGH TEST COVERAGE
The world has changed drastically in the past two years, and thanks to the demands of the pandemic, consumers today have raised the bar when it comes to expectations for flawless digital experiences. However, software innovation falls flat if the testing practices are not maturing alongside the automated pipelines. The mabl report found that 80% of teams with high test coverage reported high customer happiness, with only 3% reporting low customer happiness. Compare this to teams that said they had low test coverage, with a nearly 50/50 split between high and low-happiness customers. By emphasizing quality engineering metrics like test coverage, QE leaders will be better prepared to showcase the business value of testing and tackle the cultural shifts that continue to inhibit DevOps maturity.
The role of QA and DevOps is constantly evolving as software testing matures and becomes increasingly automated. As more teams shift to integrate quality engineering, the demand for more modern modes of testing will also continue to emerge.