DevOps is the preferred methodology for software development companies looking to code, build, test, and deploy software as a continuous process. It is popular because it creates a fast-paced, results-oriented, collaborative environment that encourages cross-skilling and self-improvement.
DevOps is the preferred methodology for software development companies looking to code, build, test, and deploy software as a continuous process. It is popular because it creates a fast-paced, results-oriented, collaborative environment that encourages cross-skilling and self-improvement. DevOps instills agility that drives prompt operational support and faster fixes in line with the expectations of stakeholders. Most importantly, it ensures the deployment of quality software within tight timelines.
Quality Assurance & Testing (QAT) is an essential pillar for building an effective DevOps practice. QAT is a critical enabler that binds development and operations through a collaborative thread to ensure quality software and applications get delivered.
As the QAT lead at my organization, I have multiple teams working in different DevOps teams across projects at varying levels of maturity. What I have seen as part of their journey has given me first-hand experience and has improved my understanding of the factors that can positively power the DevOps process. There are five essentials that play an important role in creating seamless sync, enabling QA to sit perfectly within the DevOps process.
1. Focus on the Core Tenets of Testing
QA's core base is testing, and thus the best and appropriately experienced testers with hands-on experience must be part of the team. Some considerations: the team has to have a keen focus on risk, bring in critical testing thinking around the functional and non-functional aspects of the application, not losing sight of the requirements of the agile testing quadrant. Pay close attention to end-user experience tests by working closely with the user community.
2. Possess Relevant Technical Skills and Understanding of Tools and Frameworks
While being able to investigate and experiment with the application are prerequisites, what we also need among the skill set is a sound understanding of the specific development environment. This ensures the testers are adding value to the discussions from the design stage and are guiding the dev team on possibilities and limitations. They also need to have an understanding of the operating environment, and most importantly, the performance of the application in the real world. The team's skill set should also have a firm grip on automation and the tools required as it adds rigor to the DevOps process and is vital to keep the process moving at pace. It is imperative that the expertise of the QA team leans toward tools, frameworks, and technologies. What should their approach to automation be? Do they use/recommend licensed or open-source tools? Are the tools identified for the different stages of the software development life cycle for development, testing, deployment, and monitoring. It is crucial to have complete clarity on the use of tools to avoid delays and derailing the process at any given stage of development. Teams looking to experiment with technologies such as artificial intelligence or machine learning to add fillip to the process should have the expertise.
3. Agile Testing Practices
DevOps is synchronized agility integrating development, QA, and operations. It is a mature take on the agile methodology. Agile/DevOps methodologies now drive a healthy percentage of software development and testing. Can the QA team ensure that the right coverage, aligned to the right risks, improves the velocity in the Agile/DevOps environment? Does the individual or the team have the experience of working in dynamic environments? Do they have the processes to integrate into cross-functional, distributed teams to ensure continuous integration, development, testing, and deployment?
4. Relevant Industry Experience
Relevant industry experience ensures that the testers involved are familiar with the user experiences and the possible impact on business and can anticipate potential bottlenecks. Industry knowledge not only increases efficiency but also guides testers to prioritize testing with the highest level of business impact.
5. Culture as a Driver
The culture of the QA team is a major driver in DevOps. The DevOps method requires QA team members to be on their toes, to be quick to adapt, to be ethical, and to gel well with the development and operations team. They act as a sync between the Dev and Ops teams and have to take the onus to ensure balance and keep the process running smoothly.
Synchronization of the three pillars (Dev, QAT, and Ops) is critical for software products to meet expectations and deliver business value in a DevOps process. In that process, the QA team is the bridge that ensures software products smoothly transition from development to deployment without a glitch. What are the factors you think that QA can improvise to integrate seamlessly and have a more substantial impact on the DevOps process?