How to approach the modernization of Quality Assurance

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Digital transformation requires a holistic transition in the organizational culture and mindset. This transition would involve breaking the habit of throwing things over the fence. Instead, a collaborative team culture, a quality-driven mindset, and a customer-centric approach in the transformational practices would be needed. 

An enterprise cannot succeed in its digital transformation efforts if it fails to bring quality into perspective. In fact, as enterprises are furthering their digitization, it is essential for them to adopt a more modern approach towards quality assurance. Melissa Tondi, Quality Engineering leadership at E*TRADE, and Kalyan Rao Konda, President & Head of North America East business unit at Cignitirecently spoke on our podcast about taking the modern approach toward quality assurance. This blog is an excerpt of their interview on the QATalks podcast. 

Getting from quality assurance to quality engineering 

Quality Engineering is predominantly about getting involved with the quality of the product right from the beginning.  

Quality engineers are influential in building of a software before the software has been built, says Melissa. A quality engineering approach requires transition in both mindset as well as technology skill set. This means that individuals responsible for QE should have the user advocacy and technical acumen for not only adopting but also embracing new tools and technology for ensuring their efficient implementation 

As opposed to assuring quality at the later stages in the SDLC, quality engineering dictates shifting left of testing activities. For helping build overall quality in a software, quality engineers participate at a very low level in the software development lifecycle, often even engaging in the technical discussions with their project team counterparts. This allows them to collaborate with all the members of an Agile project team or delivery teams from an early phase and to be proactive in terms of errors and glitches. 

Quality engineering is all about defect prevention and early defect detection, emphasizes Kalyan. 

Readiness of a company for implementing or upgrading its testing plan 

As per Melissa, the biggest factor that determines a company’s readiness toward quality engineering and digital transformation depends is the ability of engineering leadership to understand the value of quality or quality engineers or testers. 

When the leaders can see the value that QA or QE can bring to their organization, they become the biggest advocates for implementing the transformation. On the other hand, in organizations where QA is viewed as a second thought and does not get an equal seat at the table, it gets difficult to implement a successful testing program. Additionally, when the value of QA is not perceived as to be equals to the other members of deliver teams, the transformation from quality assurance to quality engineering mindset becomes tricky to achieve. 

In order to counter this situation, the ability to showcase and prove the continuous improvement that QA brings go a long way in convincing the management.  

Factors and challenges involved in the QA modernization journey 

The key factor involved in the process of modernizing QA is spreading the testing responsibility across the delivery team. Within the traditional QA strategies, testing used to be perceived and performed as a part of test teams only. They were handed off the codes at end of development cycle and were responsible for writing and managing test codes. 

Modernization of QA is writing a test while ensuring that the details are appropriate for the delivery teams and making the test centralized and accessible for the entire product team. The modern strategy for quality assurance requires being consultative with developers and making testing the responsibility of entire team. 

Within large organizations, such kind of QA transformation necessitates a tremendous amount of change management skills and the ability to justify the change in terms of business value. As, with this transformation, QA teams start working closely with developers on a day-to-day basis, the roles and responsibilities of managers also change. From being a line manager in a QA team, the people need to assume the role of a coach where they help and offer governance to ensure a seamless collaboration between different parts of the SDLC. 

Implementing enterprise-wide test automation strategy 

The key thing to focus here is to focus on what to automate instead of how much to automate. 

Melissa says, “I have seen much less success when we have a number or percentage of test cases that indicate a higher quality automation strategy. One way that we counterbalance that is to have these very specific criteria and guidelines for not only removing the numbers team from the equation but to make sure that we are all focusing on the right things to automate. 

When we start embedding the quality engineers within the delivery team vs treating them as a matrix team where they are separate and they take their order and priority of work from another person that is sitting within the delivery team, we have increased the inefficiency of getting that work done. 

Melissa suggests, “if you start concentrating work that makes the most value and sense to the delivery team, I found that you get much more buy-in and end support from the entire delivery team to support the efforts of test automation because it is tied to something that the entire delivery team is often tied to. 

In large organizations, multiple teams often have multiple different test automation framework, which results not only in redundancy but also a constant reinventing of the wheel. In such a case, Kalyan recommends implementation of an enterprise test automation platform using which it would be possible to build test automation for multiple different applications that spans across multiple technologies and tools. 

In conclusion 

As an ending remark, Melissa emphasizes on the need to dispel the myth of proving one’s value as a Quality engineer. She says, “Our values should be very prominent and eminent with the things that we do. So, hopefully the modernization of QA would move the fact that we need to constantly prove the values. Our values should go along with our ability to collaborate without a delivery team to show value as part of our normal day-to-day activities and ideally, we would no longer need to be using our platform to continue to prove the value of QA because we already have proven that in our work. 

At Cigniti, we take pride in building enterprises of the future. We power the Digital Transformation journey of organizations by establishing comprehensive testing frameworks and strategy across the organizations’ digital value chain. When we take the onus of an enterprise’s QA transformation, our first step is to understand the overall business objectives of the organization. We then align our QA activities such that they support achievement of those objectives. 

Cigniti’s Quality Engineering services cover the Software Testing Life cycle, Test Consulting and Test Advisory services, Test Implementation, and Managed Testing services including Test Environment Management and Test Data Management. Leveraging process frameworks, methodologies, and tools, we help customers across various industries achieve first-time-right solution releases, quality improvements, and deliver a superior customer experience. 

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