A World of Opportunities for Testers with Specialist Expertise: World Quality Report highlights

wqr.jpgThe World Quality Report (2013-2014), the industry’s largest market analysis resource on application enterprise, quality and testing practices, addresses key findings in Quality Assurance and Testing.  It provides the industry’s largest comprehensive annual and global commentary of the latest findings in this evolving but often overlooked discipline.

Co-produced yearly between IT consultancies HP, Capgemini and Sogeti, the report has expanded its geographic and topic scope. Several key themes addressed in the 2013-2014 World Quality Report include: adapting the QA function to business demands to achieve greater efficiency and cost optimization; the use of agile application methods for application development; the increase of mobile testing, functionality, performance and security; the rise of cloud adoption and cloud based testing; and the need for specialist expertise in a test environments.  

 

You can download the report here

 

To maintain the report’s relevancy as an international benchmark for the industry, it has refined research methodology, investing in data gathered from 1,500 telephone interviews across 25 countries (7 languages) with an average of 35-40 minutes per interviewee.  It is this ability to get beyond the quantitative data that makes the findings meaningful and reliable in today’s complex multi-vendor application landscape. WQR research directly compares current information with previous reports. In addition, respondent roles have spanned the spectrum from Quality Assurance (QA) and test managers to Head of Applications and CIOs (20 percent of respondents are ‘hands on’ testing professionals). 

 

One key theme, with the slow global economic recovery and pressures on organizations to re-evaluate the basic components of their IT operations, is the ability of the testing function to adapt.  With structural shifts in QA operating models, as well as a more urgent need for specialist skill sets and methodologies, the need for efficiency is a recurring theme across findings. In addition, QA and testing are developing a more structured and methodical approach to their critical role of ensuring the quality standards of business systems within an IT function.  Balanced against these considerations are a number of challenges and a clear recognition of the constraints imposed by a lack of specialist expertise.

 

From the findings of the World Quality Report, below are several key considerations:  

 

Testing Budgets on the Rise:

 

Organizations are continuing to increase the proportion of their overall IT budgets invested in testing, with a significant proportion allocated to test infrastructure, hardware and testing tools. This is a response to high end-user expectations of ‘right first time’ apps, something that is relatable to our home and work lives. Additionally, QA funding priorities are increasingly being directed towards ‘transformational’ projects – those involving new technologies and delivery platforms – rather than maintaining existing legacy systems and ‘business as usual’.  With improved regression testing and test automation helping to take the strain, the testing function is allowed to flex its skills in interesting projects such as social media applications. However, this increased spending cannot continue. Without an equal and opposite need for QA and Testing practice leaders to identify and implement further operational efficiencies, year-on-year budget increases are not sustainable over the longer term.

 

A Silver Lining in the Cloud:

 

With regard to the Cloud, a number of companies are taking a ‘wait and see’ approach.  For testers, this presents a real opportunity to gain expertise in testing cloud-based online applications using cloud infrastructure, rather than permanent in-house testing environments.  Additionally, private, public and hybrid clouds are increasingly becoming part of the IT mainstream. The ability to apply a structured approach to Software as a Service (SaaS) applications is also becoming an essential part of a tester’s CV, with security and performance as the skills most in demand.

 

Testing and the Power of SMAC

 

Turning to mobility, testing is now reporting a significant increase in mobile testing activity, which is core to business operations. It has its own unique set of technology challenges, focused particularly on performance and security of mobile applications and devices. This is a clear reflection of an increasing reliance on mobile devices for core customer or operational transactions. As a result, there is a need for greater mobile app data security and privacy. With hundreds of devices using multiple mobile platforms, and an explosion in apps, this is an opportunity for many QA professionals to develop these specialized skills and establish dedicated, professional teams.

 

Increased Need for Defined Teams with Dedicated Experts

 

The lack of methodology and tooling has also been echoed in the findings on test environments and Agile as teams struggle to maintain multiple test environments or ramp up quickly enough. Without the appropriate level of specialist planning and execution expertise, the testing team could be wasting valuable time and expensive resources. One solution is specialist teams to take explicit responsibility for properly configured test environments.  Regarding Agile, 83 percent of WQR respondents now use this approach for all or some of their application development.  However, there is also a lack of a consistent testing approach for Agile development projects. For an Agile approach to succeed, each iteration must be driven by business value. The most common cause of failure of Agile projects is that teams focus solely on speed of delivery, arbitrarily favoring some process elements and discarding others. Testing should be focused on an approach that allows structured quality and agile to coexist.

 

Reshaping the Testing Function

The report reveals the testing function is undergoing a transformation of its own.  There is a growing trend towards streamlining and centralizing the in-house testing function as a single stream across the entire organization. Coupled with this is the significant rise in the use of fully-operational Test Centres of Excellence, and a growing demand for business and domain knowledge to add value to test execution.  This is a positive reflection of the continuing maturity of the testing function, in adopting a model that supports IT modernization, embeds operational efficiencies and spreads best practice.  

Lack of Proactive Testing Practices

 

The fact that organizations are willing to invest a larger share of their IT budgets in supporting and functionally restructuring testing is certainly positive.  Conversely, a reason why budgets need to rise so much is because testing is engaged late in the development process.  45 percent of respondents started the testing process during or after the development phase – too late to influence application quality beyond finding and fixing defects. Although, testing may not be measuring its activities as ‘smartly’ as it could, business-oriented metrics also have a role to play. The report analysis indicates that testing functions still rely on the commonly used operational quality metrics, such as number of defects found and cost per test cases executed. While these metrics remain essential, testers could be doing more to demonstrate the tangible business value-add of testing by reporting back to the P&L owner operational metrics linked to specific business outcomes, such as quantifying QA’s contribution to reduced time-to-market for IT projects.

 

To read this year’s full report, pick-up a copy at the HP booth at the EuroSTAR Software Testing Conference or you can download it here. As guidance for users of Quality Assurance and Testing, it offers suggestions on how to apply findings from this year’s report.  For a full video of my interview with Makarand Teje view here

 

In addition, a new benchmarking app, MyWQR2013, for the IPad was developed to benchmark your company’s QA and Testing practice. MyWQR2013 provides CIOs, IT Directors, VP of Applications and QA/Testing Managers with the opportunity to answer a subset of questions related to the latest edition of the World Quality Report and compare their responses with the global survey results. The subset of questions focus on key topics in QA & Testing such as: Testing Centers of Excellence, Test Environment and Data Management, Managed Testing, Mobile Testing, Testing in the Cloud and Agile Testing. With this comprehensive comparison tool, users will be able to see the status of their organization’s Quality Assurance and Testing compared to a comprehensive global sample of 1,500 senior executives. The results can provide users with information which will help guide them on what to do next. 

 

Join the Conversation @HPSoftwareALM

 

Here are some other articles we have written about the World Quality Report:

 

 

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About the Author
Michael Cooper is a leader in the fields of quality assurance (QA), software testing, and process improvement. In November 2012, Michael joi...


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