Delivering high-quality products and solutions that customers love is what leads organizations to succeed, and doing so at a rapid pace differentiates the industry leaders from challengers. This acceleration into the next level in product quality depends on utilising certain practices that enable faster and higher quality delivery, continuously. Under Quality engineering (QE), the focus is not just about building the right product or solution, but building it right too.
There are plenty of ways of doing this; embedding quality into the delivery lifecycle is the most adopted and most accepted one, as it goes a long way in delivering reliable and high-performing systems that are also secure. The focus on quality results in improved customer happiness and time-to-market, along with reduction in costs – not to mention employee satisfaction and clarity about he projects. Mastering this art of Continuous Quality Engineering allows organizations to get ahead of the competition, but requires certain values to be the norm across the organization. And as with any type of organizational mastery and industry leadership, it requires a cumulative effort from all teams across all levels so that the fundamentals, mentioned below, are adhered to. Embedding these behaviours while interweaving QE in delivery cycles, can result in better understanding of the process and subsequent benefits thereafter.
- Clarity about requirements
A research by PMI conducted in 2018 revealed that inaccurate requirements were the third leading cause of project failure. Considering the change in working environments because of the pandemic that limits in-person interactions, the number is bound to increase due to inherent miscommunication across channels. The Developer Coeffient report by Stripe estimates that developers spend 17 hours per week maintaining code on average; that equates to around $85 billion of rework worldwide annually.
That’s why discussing user stories and inspecting them for ambiguities and inconsistencies before building features in. Issues like functionality defects, omission of customer requirements, rise in rework rate and delivery rolling over deadlines creep in otherwise. Reaching a common ground on non-functional requirements such as performance, security, accessibility, reliability and data migration clearly and accurately, ensure a better customer experience.
User story reviews that follow, should include reviewing both functional and non-functional requirements to ensure all are Independent, Valuable, Estimable, Negotiable, Testable and Small. Ensuring business analysts, developers and testers discuss each user story, is vital for the understanding of requirements for the team, so that they can improve the quality of features incrementally.
- Fishing for risk
Considering scenarios where systems might fail, is a good way to identify requirement gaps. Identifying risks in advance, be it a business, product or project-related one, organizations can enable specific types of testing and develop approaches that can be used to prevent them. Yet, only 47% of organizations use risk assessments. This might because of the perceived complexity involved in writing more complete product requirements, as product-related risks lead to the discovery of process-related issues in the existing requirement set.
Risk assessment in an Agile and DevSecOps environment is done at various stages: First, during release planning, and once again during iteration planning. This ensures that the right types of testing tools and conditions are used, and each user story is completed in-iteration. On the other side, risk assessments should be carried out during early test planning for traditional teams, so that the test strategies and plans can direct the choice of testing for every delivery phase. This is the exact outcome of Maveric’s IQe Lighthouse solution, which predicts flaws and pitfalls much earlier in the SDLC stages to maintain the rhythm of Continuous Quality
Adhering to standards is also an effective way to reduce risks, especially in regulatory environments where test evidence is required to pass audit. Standards like ISO/IEC/IEEE 29119 Software Testing can serve as a checklist and for improving confidence that the right testing practices are being used to achieve better quality every iteration.
- Intelligent Automation testing
Modern test automation solutions are wired to provide fast and frequent feedback, while providing visibility into code quality, test coverage and issue detection. These solutions also provide automated alerting and self-healing, to ensure automation suites can be run continuously. With the foundation of continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) frameworks to provide fast and frequent feedback, test automation extends into automated non-functional testing such as automated performance, security and accessibility testing in a continuous quality environment.
The only hindrances towards automation are lack of experts, and lack of time. The 11th edition of the World Quality Report shows that 46% of organisations lack skilled automation staff to continuous testing, and 24% not achieving their automation goals because they engaged automation experts a bit too late. Hence, the design of test plans and strategies should start in parallel with requirements gathering to maximise delivery speed in a continuous quality environment.
- Continuous testing
Continuous testing ensures that testing and quality practices are adhered to throughout the product lifecycle. Starting with early engagement and collaboration with stakeholders, it then extends into risk-based test strategy design. The probability of defects being found later are greatly reduced, but organizations still lag behind – with 78% of organisations reporting in a survey by Panaya that testing starts too late in their lifecycle, and 69% of testers finding it difficult or very difficult to get involved early in product development.
- Adopting a regression testing strategy
Since regression testing seeks to identify how a new release affects the output while covering high-risk areas thoroughly, new bugs aren’t introduced to old components of the product. Manual testing is key to the quality of both new and existing functionalities, as automated testing tools can disregard or may not even consider certain human behaviours. Performing an impact analysis before the test and creating a robust Root Cause Analysis process for any problem is vital.
- Monitor Sentiments to identify issues
Setting a benchmark for customer satisfaction for each major section of the project, like average satisfaction score, provides clues on features that can be improved. Exploratory testing during rollouts and discussions with the customer-facing part of the organization can help in pinpointing the issue.
#AccelerateNext with Continuous Quality
Efficient testing enables organizations to deliver continuous quality, by evaluating the improvement in cost, effort and value. While the tangible benefits of using QE can be clearly seen from the results, ancillary benefits like employees attuned to the importance of quality or dedicated to improving their contribution across all levels make it a worthwhile addition to an organization’s delivery cycle. The processes and habits created from adopting continuous quality engineering, can propel the organization’s business transformation at a rapid pace.