Augment Enterprise Digital Transformation with Quality Engineering

Augment Enterprise Digital Transformation with Quality Engineering

Speakers: Dilhan Manawadu, Director, Head of Agile Delivery, Technology Quality Engineering & BT Studio at Sysco;
Pradeep Govindasamy, CTO & President at Cigniti

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You’re listening to QATalks, a podcast for IT executives leading digital transformation within their organizations. In this show, we hear from leaders leveraging the latest technologies like AI, IoT & machine learning, as they navigate the changing tech landscape to position their organizations for the future. Let’s get into the show.

Travis

Welcome back to another episode of QA Talks. I’m really excited to sit down today with two amazing guests. I’d like to introduce Dilhan Manawadu, who is the director and head of Agile Delivery, Technology, Quality Engineering and BT Studio over at Sysco. For those of you that might not be familiar with Dilhan’s background, he possesses over 14 years of experience in the software development industry, specifically with large multinational organizations. He’s overlooking the captive engineering center delivery agile enablement and quality engineering for Sysco Technology. Dilhan is passionate on continuous lifelong learning and likes to keep himself regularly updated on topics such as agile, software development and delivery, quality engineering, DevSecOps, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) and engineering productivity practices. Welcome to the show, Dilhan.

Dilhan

Travis, thank you for having me in the show today. Excited to be here on the show!

Travis

So excited to have you. And next, I want to welcome our very own Pardeep Govindasamy from the Cigniti team, who is the CTO and President there. I’m super excited to have you join us today for this conversation, Pradeep.

Pradeep

Thank you, Travis. And thank you so much Dilhan, for being a co-speaker in this event. Looking forward to it.

Travis

Dilhan, I want to start with you. As a part of one of the leading food servicing enterprises that serve millions of customers worldwide, how much of an impact has technology and automation had in your journey so far?

Dilhan

If you look at our journey in the past decade, I would say, technology is basically enabling us to rapidly deliver value to customers. And we can see that it is enhancing customer experience immensely. It has helped us to innovate around technology and reduce operational costs, which has given us significant gains in productivity. This has all been possible through our engineering and technology solutions. It has become a big business impact and it’s actually shaping how Sysco transforms to the future. In terms of automation, it is giving us ROI in multiple aspects.

I would like to kind of highlight two over here. From a software delivery or software engineering point of view, the developer productivity that we get through automation such as unit testing, test automation, DevSecOps practices, it is really helping our developers gain productivity again, without doing certain things in manual aspects. Getting these things automated has significantly improved the velocity, as well as helped developers gain a lot of engineering productivity throughout the years. And additionally, it has helped our developers to kind of experiment these solutions because automation becomes a safety net because it’s always there. It has helped us to improve the quality as well as go to market in a faster manner.

The other aspect I just wanted to comment on is from an automation point of view, it has also helped the business capabilities to be enhanced, automated and reengineered, which totally have the ability for enterprise to make business processes efficient as well as fast to serve our customers, while reducing lead times. It happens in two aspects. Technology plus automation is really impacting Sysco today and it’s really helping us serve these millions of customers in a very rapid manner.

Travis

Pradeep, do you have anything to add here?

Pradeep

Thanks for sharing this Dilhan. You briefly highlighted about several areas and one of them is automation. We also feel, with the digital transformation, DevOps and agile, automation is taking the topmost precedence. From your software development automation, to a process driven automation to your hyper automation area. We are seeing a lot of those in a similar line of experience as the IT organizations and enterprise are looking to take their programs, projects, products, applications into the consumers through a faster push by deploying significant amount of automation in their space.

Travis

It’s really interesting to see the rise of automation and the impact it has as it becomes a safety net because a lot of these things that you mentioned such as enhancing, automating, reengineering, these things are what’s allowing companies to continue to operate and find ways to reduce their costs. So, I think it’s really important and I love that you highlighted it. My next question is, how are you seeing quality engineering help enterprises boost their digital transformation journeys in their customers’ experience?

Dilhan

It’s helping the enterprises from an end-to-end orchestration point of view of their testing, as well as improving their customer experience. I would say that’s the main element that quality engineer is helping in from a digital transformation point of view. Let me add a little bit about what I just said about the end-to-end orchestration because if you really look at some of these digital transformations, it is about giving the customer an user experience without disruptions.

We cannot digitally transform an organization if we don’t have that stability. So, for us to get that stability, it is important that we certify, test, and quality engineer certain applications at a system level. But it’s also important for us to have that orchestration at end-to-end level. The main ability here is that quality engineering is giving those quality attributes to the digital transformation. It kind of validates and speeds up the delivery as well. Because of this automation that is kicking in. it can give that safety net. As I mentioned, it can give the boost to software development teams to release their software faster, as well as enabling the DevSecOps to mature as well, because quality engineering adds that value and enables those holistically as well.

The fundamental thing here is quality engineering is helping to bring that digital assurance to the transformation journeys as well as the stability and the quality that is needed, which brings that end user or the customer experience to a different level. These are the main points in boosting the digital transformation journey and I feel the future of quality engineering is going to rapidly be pivotal due to these factors.

Travis

Pradeep, do you have anything you’d like to add?

Pradeep

Dilhan mentioned about quality engineering and that’s where the future is. In the past, it was all about quality assurance or software testing but in today’s DevOps world, people are talking about full stack testing or software development engineering test and all of these are grouped under the word quality engineering like how Dilhan mentioned.

But how is it changing, the whole IT world? It is by introducing quality engineering. If I can bring in quality engineering right up front in the lifecycle, I’ll be able to do test-driven development. I’ll pair up with the developers if they are introducing a behavior driven development by doing automation early in the lifecycle. I can write acceptance test scripts through automation tools and therefore you can reduce so many defects that may get into the production lifecycle.

A lot of lifecycle changes are happening in the name of quality engineering, I think that’s going to be the future. Fortune 2000 companies are adopting quality engineering to a significant extent, increasing their automation coverage from just being a 30% to 40% towards 70% to 80% category. And this quality engineering is the key transformation for them to achieve the target from being manual testing or functional testing or regression test automation organization, towards a digital quality engineering organization.

Travis

Based on that, it sounds like there’s a need to put quality engineering at the forefront of product development. Is that accurate?

Dilhan

Yes, Travis, that’s accurate.

Travis

Would you mind Dilhan or Pradeep sharing what are some of the biggest areas that people mess up when it comes to thinking about putting a quality engineer at the beginning of a product development lifecycle and how they can potentially overcome that?

Dilhan

Let me take that one from an enterprise point of view. The challenge here is building the right team as well the strategy. It needs to have that investment from your enterprise delivery point of view as well, as well as building the capability to shift left-ing your testing and having your testing or quality engineering team involved within the agile teams itself. There is some level of transformation that lacks in certain industries as well as enterprises where they see quality engineering still as a central siloed function. So, you need to dissect it and kind of have different strategies for it.

As I mentioned from an agility point of view, you need to have your team be multi-skilled and cross-functional so they can look at quality from the start. There’s a term they say, “Quality is everyone’s responsibility!” So, you need to invest on that first. But when it comes to enterprises, you need to also have that central function where it looks at the platforms as well as the practice, the governance, so you have to do some investments there as well. Ideally, both aspects are important. The right investment, the strategy and the thought leadership are needed to kind of get that going, in my opinion.

Pradeep

I would agree with Dilhan about the shift left. But one of the top challenges is when we do the shift left, it presents you with a lot more challenges. The reason is you’re going to have colocation, you need to release it in smaller parts that includes quality engineering part of your development journey.

How do you meet those standards? How do you understand a scriptless automation? How do you understand the code that is integrated into the CI-CD story, which is continuous integration, continuous development story? Or what are some of those newer technologies that are evolving, such as cloud, RPA – robotic process automation, or implementing artificial intelligence and machine learning?

A lot of these technologies are evolving, and the quality engineering takes the precedence of shift left and that presents a lot of challenges. And one of the challenges is about skillsets in the current testing world. The current quality engineering world or software market itself, is not well versed with those latest and the greatest technology of what full stack testers are needed or what software development engineers and testers are needed for. That is one of the topmost challenges that IT world should evolve and adapt to that and get certified in meeting the right standards that is required.

Travis

What are some things Pardeep, that people can do to get certified in these areas that you’re talking about?

Pradeep

There are a lot of online and as well as in-person certifications. Many organizations are now presenting them with get yourself a skilled, agile framework certified or go into some of the tool-based certifications that are required. Many companies are offering certification for their tools, for example, UiPath or Tricentis or the tools such as selenium in open source market. Everyone offers a number of training and certification, so people should get certified both on the framework side, processes side, the tools and the technology. It’s wide open, it just that the time is going to be the critical factor for them to get acquainted to these areas that I just outlined If they can and it’s going to be another six months of your practical experience.

So, by just doing training and certification, don’t enable yourself to be a skilled professional in this quality engineering or software development or testing market space. You need to get the practical hands-on experience by doing proof of concept, by doing tools, adopting to those newer frameworks, and learning new languages as well. Many new languages have come. In the past, we were only talking about Java and .NET. But today, a number of new languages have come like JavaScript, Python, to name a few of it. All these are the new skill sets of languages from a coding perspective one should learn for them to keep in this new IT world.

Travis

Top Challenges is taking a look at getting yourself an agile framework certification or a tool-based certification. And on top of that, quality is everyone’s responsibility, even from the beginning, when enterprises were thinking about the need to have a centralized function, to look at the platforms, the governance, the practices, where they put investments, having a multiskilled cross-functional team and making sure that they can see where they’re progressing from that 60 to 70 % range, 80 to 90 % range, all the way up to having in a dream world 100% quality assurance, which I’m sure no one will ever tell you that actually exists.

I really love that we got a chance to share some of where the advancements in the industry are going as it relates to the supply chain management. And we kind of touched on a lot of these different technologies in ways that the space is evolving.

Dilhan, I want to bring you this question, in your specific food and beverage industry, too, there’s a lot of supply chain management that happens and it’s involved to meet the standards of procurement and food quality. So, what technologies or which technologies are likely to perform effectively in the space of supply chain procurement and food quality?

Dilhan

In terms of the industry specific level, the main aspect is that it’s transforming as we speak, the supply chain industry is basically redefining. You see all the big players changing their supply chains and optimizing how they deliver to the final end user or customer.

So, I feel in the future, when it specifically comes to procurement and food quality, IoT – Internet of things, is going to be prominent and there will be more technologies on that integrated. AI/ML – artificial intelligence and machine learning based algorithms and applications are going to be a main thing in the future. Things like autonomous robots as well as drones are obviously going to be mainstream and these are all going to sit and be based in the cloud. So those are the things that I feel, but the call out is that I did mention these siloed or independent fashion.

But I feel the beauty of it is how these integrate and how these orchestrate on an end-to-end level. Because that’s going to be the complexity when things need to connect from IoT sensors where the data is collected when AI and ML does the activity of collecting this data, as well as predicting and giving personalization and how these feed into certain delivery aspects of robotics as well as drones. And then how these all orchestrated in cloud and how the cloud is changing will definitely reshape this in the future, especially for the procurement and food quality area. So, it’s just a high-level aspect from the industry where it’s going and that’s what we feel where the future will be.

Travis

We’ve got AI, machine learning algorithms with applications, we’ve got autonomous robots, we’ve got drones, we’ve got IoT growing and all of that’s going to be based in the cloud. They might be looked at as being built in a siloed fashion, but the beauty is in how they integrate and orchestrate across their network of connected things. And Pradeep, anything to add here?

Pradeep

I think it’s all great points, such as the autonomous robot and the several areas which Dilhan mentioned in the food space and I’ve seen that in the consumer goods, especially in the AI and ML implementation going on with respect to the food chain industry and as well as on the consumer goods that include retail as well.

So, we are seeing a lot of these are getting embedded into the IoT- Internet of things, in the form of a device or in the form of smart touch. And also, the primary driver for implementing these is going to be the data. You need a lot of data to do that, and therefore you need to have data science data, or data analyst and a number of initiatives around data is going to be the major transformation factor in this.

And I echo what I had mentioned about the implementation of latest and the greatest technologies and therefore the business process is taking a lot more AI and ML impact.

Travis

I think it’s going to be really huge, as more companies in these different specified industries think about what’s important. And you both have highlighted that getting your data initiatives in your team built is paramount to having an ounce of success in this future that you both are describing here.

Pradeep, I kind of want to put the spotlight on you for a few minutes here. DiIhan, I want you to chime in here as well. Pradeep, you’ve worked with Fortune 500 companies in sectors and markets such as food and beverage, supply chain, and logistics. Can you talk about the role of quality engineering in each of these different industries for us briefly?

Pradeep

I think the supply chain and logistics industry is massive. The difference on this food and beverage industry is that you deploy a lot of those ERP applications, the package applications, for example, SAP is one of it, Oracle is another, some of them are in the cloud technologies as well. That require a different level of software quality engineering aspect, because when you implement a massive ERP application, you need to go through customization, you need to go through data, you need to build automation ahead of time. And the core aspect of it is integration into your existing software systems and that’s going to be the key because most often the companies tend to buy commercial off-the-shelf product for their ERP application and integrate it with their in-house applications or another third party applications into that. So therefore, it brings in a lot of challenges for the IT to bring in the integration, the quality and time to market.

Quality engineering plays a pivotal role in the software integration, in doing automation, especially around the service level of test automation and data level of automation. And the last one is about performance engineering that we consider it under the quality engineering bucket as well. So, when you implement the large-scale applications, you make sure your performance is well met. All these are the factors of how quality engineering play a vital role in the supply chain and logistics industry.

And last but not least, is the digital side of it. You need to have these technologies get implemented into the digital scale. For that, quality engineering brings an automation of your mobile applications or integration of your IoT with your supply chain industry. All these play a crucial role in the quality engineering space with respect to food and beverage industry.

Travis

Dilhan, do you have anything to add here?

Dilhan

On top of all what Pradeep mentioned, you need to consider the people factor of hiring the right skill to kind of enable what just Pradeep mentioned as well in terms of strategy, because execution is very important as well, so having the right skill set, the mindset and the people is very important, building that team is very crucial.

Travis

What do you think is one of the most important skills a team needs to build a solid quality engineering practice from the beginning?

Dilhan

In terms of the people aspect, I think the main thing is I want to highlight this that always hire the best people but focus on people with the best attitude and motivation, not merely the skill set. Because we are talking about transformations, we’re not talking about a startup, right? We are not talking about a smaller scale, we are talking about transformations in an enterprise where the scale is very high, so we need to have people who can pull things through and go that extra mile always.

In terms of attitude and aptitude aspect, I feel that the attitude, the motivation is very important. I would definitely consider that as high priority. In terms of skillset, I would really look at what Pradeep chimed in earlier, the full stack quality engineering capability is something we had in the past as well, where we wanted to have a full-stack engineer where that person can do test automation, can do performance testing, can do all the technical aspects, but also have that QE mindset, the mind on processes, the mind set about design, the mindset of writing and executing and looking at defect management and test planning and all that.

It’s not only just the technical aspect, but also on the process aspect. I would add a final layer on top of it, that is basically the understanding and knowledge of cloud technologies. It’s very pivotal today and I think quality engineers should start investing on learning either of the platforms we have today. It can be one cloud, or multi cloud, because this is where I think the future is going to be built upon and all quality engineering engineers should be kind of heavily invested on learning about those technologies. Those are few things as call outs that I want to make.

Travis

People listening to this will definitely find this very valuable as they begin to reskill and learn what they need to do, to be leading quality engineers and quality professionals, so thanks so much. Pradeep, I’m going to touch on your experience navigating different Fortune 500 companies through their digital transformation. So, could you walk us through how Cigniti has helped Fortune 500 companies navigate their digital transformations through quality engineering services?

Pradeep

I think I briefly mentioned, and I also echo what Dilhan mentioned about quality engineering and some of the skills that are required to uplift themselves to drive digital transformation. And I think not just an IT company transforming itself into digital, all enterprises are now claiming themselves as we are going digital and then we want to do a supply chain through our online market and one of the areas is omnichannel for retailers or omnichannel for consumer goods industry and they want that to be in the digital transformation play.

It’s about integration, it’s about having these services talk to each other and also going to the consumers directly. Those are some of the reasons why digital transformation plays a pivotal role. With that, we are seeing digital transformation taking the market share significantly. Lot of retailers or consumer goods, they’re looking at the omnichannel or doing an online transformation or online consumer play. What that means is, you need to look at the areas of how to do a compatibility of it, how to get your customer experience, take those customer experience and input into it to make sure that your IT meets the direct consumers of it.

And the last one is the RPA side, which is the robotic process automation. The organizations are now deploying a lot of bots into their website to provide the customization for the consumers that is required. All of these are some of the digital transformation I just highlighted and needless to say, the cloud, the AI, the ML aspect of it that Dilhan mentioned, all of these are part of your digital transformation themes.

If I have to call the top 10 technology trends, that is impacting the digital transformation world, whatever I have just mentioned is about the artificial intelligence, the mission and the language of it, the RPA side, the cloud side of it, and software as a service is another area that getting into a multi-level of digital twins and how can you handle the digital twin market space. The organizations are now talking about scriptless technologies by introducing components and then driving technologies into that hyper automation, that’s another area of technology.

So these are some of the list of top technologies that is driving the digital transformation and quality engineering takes all those cues from there because you need somebody to deliver the automation, you need someone to build the components, create scripts, execute in multiple places, and whether it is Internet of Things or whether it is your mobile technology or your standard browser technology or your platforms, all of these require skills to be adopted for you to execute those digital transformation in your IT.

Travis

Thanks so much for that. It sounds like there’s a lot of focus on making sure that your processes and your tools and your platform all connect back to the end consumer needs and everything that you do is in effort to better service the future. And quality engineering is at forefront of that. My last question for you Pardeep is, can you tell us about Cigniti’s IP BlueSwan and how it accelerates quality engineering in the overall enterprise segment and maybe share some examples from the F&B and the supply chain sectors with us?

Pradeep

Whatever quality engineering transformation that I’ve just mentioned about the top 10 technologies in introducing AI into your test automation code or introducing ML for your performance engineering or bringing in an RPA automation and therefore deploying a framework underneath, all these are accelerators for an IP component that Cigniti has built in the form of BlueSwan that gets deployed when an organization is going towards a digital transformation.

Especially the type of technologies that we are looking at in the F&B, in the food and beverage industry, the supply chain or in the digital transformation sectors, the BlueSwan product would help in the quality engineering aspect. It technically helps the engineers to accelerate your automation journey much faster and bring in time to market advantage. And therefore, you are getting your cost savings as a return.

Travis

Dilhan, do you have anything to add on that?

Dilhan

No, I think Pradeep covered it all.

Travis

I just want to open the forum now; we covered a lot of great ground. We went from beginning of the conversation where we went into the food servicing enterprises that Dilhan supports and how much of an impact his work has done in the automation journey there. And then even going all the way to some of the future top 10 technologies to be on the lookout for if you’re in an organization that might need some of these things and you’re trying to rebuild your strategy and think about a different approach in the quality assurance and quality engineering. I just want to open it up to you both to see if there’s anything that you’d want to cover really quickly before we wrap up today.

Dilhan

Let me add a few things that I feel I should complete on some of the areas I touched upon earlier. In terms of all we spoke about quality engineering and digital transformation, at the end of the day, we need to have our teams looking at the test strategy properly right from day one. It’s very important that we build processes, tools, and the people around it as well to support this strategy as overall aspect.

It’s also important that we innovate around test automation, architecture, and solutions. It’s important that we innovate around this as well because there are multiple challenges that we will face on a day to day manner when it comes to execution. As example, test data, test environments, how to test an end-to-end manner where all these components and legacy applications integrate. It’s very important that we look at strategy as well as architecture while we solution this.

And the main thing when it comes to food service as well as the supply chain industries, and as Pradeep alluded to, the omnichannel testing experience in this aspect as well, because if you look at from a mobile to web application, we may take an order but it might go through messaging cues, might go to your ERP, might go to your legacy application, to your data, it might come all the way back through the delivery applications to your mobile and web applications.

How do you test that entire journey, that omnichannel experience that in doing aspects, how do you provide test automation solutions for it, how do you look at performance engineering, how do you look at cloud technologies to enable that, how do you have the platform in that. That’s why it’s very important for us to have the processes in place and the right tools and the right people as well, because if all these three are not interconnected, we will have suboptimal aspects on this. I just wanted to call that out as well, because in the industry that I am in, that’s a very important area and solutioning it around it is very crucial for the success of the digital transformation,

Travis

Pardeep, is there anything that you’d like to add?

Pradeep

I think it was a great summary did by Dilhan about the digital transformation. Right from the testing to a test automation journey towards quality engineering journey towards digital transformation and what skills are needed to uplift yourself to meet that ever-growing demand in that space. I think it’s a great summary, so I don’t have anything else to add. Thank you so much everyone!

Quality assurance is vital to the success of an organization’s digital transformation. Lack of control can quickly derail a company’s technological presence, costing thousands. At Cigniti, our resolution is to build a better world with better quality software. Renowned for the global quality thought leadership in the industry, we draw expertise from over a decade of test engineering experience across verticals. To learn how we do it, visit cigniti.com.

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