Accelerating Software Product Quality In a DevOps Environment

As software development cycles are getting shorter and faster, testing and QA are undergoing massive changes to meet the rapidly changing needs. Lately, the key focus is enhancing customer experience while ensuring high-quality and secured software solutions. So, how should you develop a reliable QA plan in this Agile/DevOps era? Read on.

Quality Assurance

Testing

app development

devops

Quality Assurance in the times of Faster Releases

The pandemic has pushed QA transformation across industries into a hyper-accelerated mode. 

In this age of digitalization and agile software development, where flexibility, speed, and collaborative effort are all-inclusive for on-time delivery, product quality often seems to be compromised. As a result, testing strategies are being revised to go hand-in-hand with faster development cycles. Quality assurance becomes a crucial component to ensure the stability of an application. It makes sure the software product you build is robust, and reliable even during untoward circumstances.  According to the World Quality Report 2020-2021, in addition to faster releases, leaders from a range of industries and geographies recognized the following additional QA and testing objectives in their organizations:
  • Contribute to business growth and outcomes
  • Detect defects in software before go-live
  • Ensure enhanced user experience and satisfaction
  • Protect brand’s image
  • Enable all internal teams achieve higher overall quality
More and more businesses in the IT industry worldwide are embracing DevOps as a way to meet the surging demand for new and enhanced IT solutions at increasing speeds. Let’s look at how QA is evolving in these environments. 

How well do Leaders Worldwide think their teams fare while Testing Key Applications?

42%
Think they don’t have enough time for testing
42%
Think they don’t have optimal test automation in place
46%
Think they don’t have the necessary in-house testing environments
55%
Think they don’t have the right testing strategy, process or methodology in place

How Agile and DevOps Changed QA

Unlike the waterfall model of software development, where the testing phase is at the end of the cycle, agile and DevOps models foster continuous testing throughout the SDLC.

Today, with digital at the heart of their business, companies are always seeking for new ways to innovate and speed up software delivery, while also ensuring uncompromised quality. To top it all, they must not only do this to achieve client satisfaction but do so before their competition. This is where the new QA and testing practices come in.

Changing Product Testing Approaches

In an agile environment, as we already discussed, creating test cases has as much priority as defining user requirements. When it comes to creating user stories, agile developers also set validation criteria for those requirements, thereby embarking on the testing process from day one.

Testing has moved so far upstream in the SDLC that few of the new strategies have emerged in the agile and DevOps environments.

1. Test-Driven Development (TDD)

This phase usually starts by defining the test case- what actually you want to test, then moves on to writing a user story and concludes with writing a code that fulfills the test case.

2. Acceptance Test-Driven Development (ATDD)

This one is similar to the TDD but it focuses more on user acceptance testing, where the testing is done to verify if the software product works according to the customer’s expectations.

3. Behavior Driven Development (BDD)

The aim of this development is to reach a defined business outcome that helps the developers better understand what features are currently working on.

Changing Testing Strategies

With the fast-paced product deliveries in the Agile and DevOps environments, a well-documented testing plan can be rarely seen. However, as the product quality is not something to be compromised, agile teams have come up with alternate testing strategies to determine the scope, method and objectives of their testing.

Shift left testing is one such strategy that agile teams are following these days. It not only improves the scope of evaluation at early stages but ensures the effective resolution of bugs. 

Here are some other non-conventional testing strategies:

1. Operational Testing

It is a type of testing usually done before the production phase. During this, the testing teams if the product, service, or process is secure, stable, and accessible.

The goal of operational testing is to ensure the components of the software are smooth in operation in the standard Operating Environments (SOE).

It focuses mainly on these aspects:

  • Resilience
  • Recovery
  • Integrity
  • Manageability

2. Performance Testing

Agile performance testing is a framework, which follows a shift-left philosophy that allows closer evaluation of sprint-level performance. 
Here are a few main types of performance testing:

Load Testing:
It tests the performance of an application when a large number of users use it at the same time and also checks the response time under various scenarios.

Capacity Testing: In this, the agile teams check if the application can actually take the same traffic as it is designed to without having to compromise on the user experience.

Stress Testing: This refers to checking the performance of the software product under extreme conditions like doubling the number of users, using it with a server having a weak CPU, or with much less memory. 

There’s yet another type of testing called security testing where the teams test the software’s ability to withstand attacks and also check the confidentiality, authentication, and integrity concerns. All these tests when performed from the start of SDLC give a comprehensive view of the product quality to the developing teams.

Changes in Testing Execution

With increased focus on QA, the number of test cases also increases. This means more work for the agile teams. To handle all these testing scenarios for 100% test coverage and bug-free product delivery, agile teams are moving towards automation. To catch with the faster delivery cycles, automating the functional, performance, and security tests are vital. Application Lifecycle Management Tools (ALMT) have become quite popular among the agile teams to manage the high volume tests with transparency.

Building an Effective QA Plan for a DevOps Environment 

Focus on bringing out processes from silos and creating an environment for highly collaborative and iterative efforts

Coordination among the development and testing team from the beginning of the SDLC provides more time for the resolution of bugs. Scenarios requiring timely execution of the software along with sustainability often recommend a shift-left approach. It gets rids of scenarios where executives must go back to the basics, saving a tremendous amount of effort.

1.Keep It Result-Oriented

Agile teams usually work with smaller goals for a specific period of time. QA must also fit into these shorter goals to ensure effective project deliverables. This is easer said, than done. To make your testers and developers work cohesively while also ensuring the deadlines aren’t missed, the plan must make sure they are working towards a common specific outcome.

2. Ensure Transparency

Working within time constraints with large teams is often a hassle. However, when the goals, processes are defined clearly and there’s transparency within the teams to shed limelight on important things during the sprint, your objectives become easier to achieve. Moreover, the development and the testing teams can also collaborate effectively when there’s transparency.

3. Treat Testing As An Ongoing Process Not a Phase

No matter how easy you think the testing process is, you cannot save it up till the end of SDLC. Integrate it within the cycle and throughout the sprint. This helps your agile teams to identify many problems early and fix them right away. Undoubtedly, the quality of the product you develop will never be compromised with this thought process.

Conclusion

In today’s highly-disruptive market, you don’t just have the responsibility to build software, but also you customers’ trust , and do it fast, effective QA makes this possible.

In the light of the remote work landscape and the aftermath of COVID-19, where businesses are forced to cut down their in-house team strength, IT departments may consider processes like QA unnecessary and are often neglected. However, when you put quality assurance at the heart of the product development life cycle, you can actually save time as you can clear off the errors from the code at once, which often ends up coming back to be updated otherwise. Not to mention your brand’s image and reputation in the eyes of your customers. Techigai has been a trusted partner for many QA transformation projects across industries. From implementing DevOps practices to exploring next-gen QA tools and technologies that augment continuous automated testing, we can drive your QA outcomes. Take a look at our QA capabilities and talk to our DevOps experts to see how we can transform your quality assurance processes.

Cost is more important than quality, but quality is the best way to reduce cost. 

Genichi Taguchi

Publish: November 11, 2021

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