You’re ready to modernize your business, but you worry that a disruptive digital transformation will lead to downtime, unforeseen costs, and broken applications.
It’s a common quagmire in this new ‘age of the customer,’ where consumers expect more and more from companies’ digital experiences. And you need to keep up with demand—73% of consumers will jump ship to a competitor if a website is slow (Econsultancy). What do you think will happen if your mobile app crashes?
That’s the role Quality Assurance (QA) plays in digital transformation equation. QA is simply the comprehensive system of testing, integration, and development that ensures your business delivers premium experiences to customers and powerful tools and resources to employees. In the context of digital transformation, QA strives to resolve errors and bugs in critical applications, while greatly reducing the labor, time, and resources required to bring new applications to market.
And while QA may have been considered a “nice to have” in the past, today it is a requirement to ensure business continuity. By applying best practices in QA, you can upgrade your applications to run smoothly, quickly, and reliably for years to come without the cost of retooling your core systems.
Best Practices in Quality Assurance
Quality assurance encompasses all of the people, processes, and technology that are needed to ensure an exceptional customer experience at every touchpoint. In the simplest terms, it’s the checks and balances that make your applications exceptional.
A successful QA philosophy requires proficiency in the following areas:
• DevOps principles
• Automation capabilities
• Continuous process improvement
• Defect prevention and remediation
• Testing principles and capabilities at all architectural levels
The first step to understanding the role of QA in digital transformation is understanding the guiding principle of DevOps and the many applications of automation.
QA is a team effort, and companies invested in their customers’ experience recognize that quality is everyone’s responsibility.
That’s where DevOps comes in. It’s the attitude that governs a successful QA strategy. By emphasizing collaboration (and breaking down barriers) between developers and operations professionals in your organization, DevOps refines the QA process.
In a successful DevOps environment, siloed teams work harmoniously, and traditional roles in the software development lifecycle are expanded. For instance, an engineer may be empowered to provision infrastructure, eliminating the time it takes to justify the provisioning to an operations manager.
DevOps also uses new technologies to their full advantage. Application testing (be it integration, functional, regression, or deployment testing) is automated. This reduces labor costs, allows testers to be able to work remotely, and facilitates more efficient development deadlines. Meanwhile, it provides continuous quality monitoring, automated provisioning of virtualized test environments, faster product deliveries, and an improved customer experience.
The final key to DevOps is the feedback loop. Even as company stakeholders are empowered to comment on and recommend improvements to applications as they are being built, input from end-consumers is considered and applied to the planning stage of new apps.
The ultimate goal of DevOps is to reduce the risk of deploying deficient software. But the added benefits are many. Your employees will work more collaboratively, software will be tested more thoroughly, and the time to market will shrink significantly.
Automation is the key to driving successful QA.
Traditionally, applications are tested manually by developers throughout the software development lifecycle. While manual testing is still important—there’s no better way to understand the customer experience than with a human using the app as it’s meant to be used—there are some drawbacks that can be mitigated with automation.
First, automation reduces human error. Consider a developer on her third energy drink of the day, testing the same application feature for the hundredth time—is there a possibility that she may miss a critical bug? Even if the bug doesn’t crash the app, it could lead to a poor customer experience. Remember how many consumers jump ship just because a website is slow? — 73%! A broken button on a mobile app, or the inability to pull up policy details on an insurance portal can have enormous influence on the user’s loyalty to your brand. Automation never tires; it runs identical tests, consistently, as many times as required.
Automation also saves time and money. For the same regression test that would take days for a manual tester to complete, automation does in minutes. That means fewer hours of labor, and fewer testers on your payroll.
Finally, automated testing brings a higher level of quality to your apps. Not only does it test consistently and cost-effectively, but it also documents every test as it runs—leaving your developers with an exhaustive list of past breaks and fixes to reference.
Complementing manual testing with automation will give you peace of mind that your applications are running smoothly, all the while keeping your costs down and freeing up your corps of developers to do what machines can’t.
From Strategy to Action
DevOps and automation are central to a functioning Quality Assurance strategy. To bring that strategy to life, you’ll need a team that understands the three DevOps tactics: continuous integration and delivery, microservices, and scrum collaboration. Stay tuned for our next blog where we’ll delve into how these tactics can improve your customer experience, resource allocation, and time-to-market for new applications.