Improving the QA Process at an Agile Office

Companies of all sizes continue to embrace the Agile methodology with the hopes of making their software development process more efficient and subsequently more productive. Agile emphasizes collaboration and communication and it is able to react to changes better than older methodologies, like the Waterfall. It is a perfect match for today’s fast-paced, competitive business world.

A faster software engineering process, however, doesn’t mean companies should forego testing and quality assurance. Unfortunately, it seems businesses are struggling with software QA within an Agile framework, according to a recent survey of development shops. Let’s take a closer look at the study’s findings with the hopes of improving the QA role at Agile shops.

Testing Tool Provider, Zephyr, looks at QA in the Business World

Zephyr, a company making applications to support software testing, annually releases a study focused the QA role within the business community. Called “How the World Tests,” it is available as a free download from their website. Managers in the software development and QA role need to check out the full study with its findings and predictions for the coming year.

Hamesh Chawla, vice president of engineering at Zephyr, commented on the purpose of their study. “‘How the World Tests’ allows the entire testing community to examine our progress over the last year. IT teams want to speed up deployment of new software to meet demand. Companies should increase employee education investments in order to fine-tune the most efficient automated tests that work for any software they develop,” said Chawla.

Quality assurance remains a vital part of the SDLC no matter the choice of methodology. Even so, we are going to focus on one area within the survey — the difficulties Agile shops are experiencing with QA on software projects. SD Times also covered this topic in a recent article.

The Major Problems of Software Testing and Agile

The Zephyr study noted three major problems development teams were experiencing when it comes to testing with Agile. They are the lack of automation tools, constantly changing requirements, and not enough time for thorough testing. Companies understand automation is important in helping QA keep up with the rapid pace of an Agile project, but only 45 percent of the survey respondents felt their organization had the competency to employ automated testing.

Chawla feels companies need to invest in automation tools and the training to leverage them properly within the Agile process. Of course, he works at a testing tool company, but that fact doesn’t lessen the impact of his statement. Software development teams also use other recent innovations, like containers and virtualization, to make the overall process faster.

Businesses also need to invest more dollars in employee development to ensure a better understanding of Agile and everyone’s role within the framework. Involving QA personnel at every step of the SDLC is also important – a traditional complaint of software testers for decades. The reengineering of testing processes to better fit within the Agile structure is another key point of improvement from the survey.

Ultimately, organizations need to understand that Agile doesn’t just mean “faster.” A well-considered process that properly includes the QA role is a requirement to ensure successful product delivery.

When you need additional insights on the world of software development, you know where to turn: The Betica Blog. As always, thanks for reading!

DevOps becoming Standard at the Enterprise

A competitive business environment requires companies to work faster than ever before – including their software development initiatives. This remains one of the major reasons organizations look towards Agile as an application engineering methodology. Making Agile work efficiently requires better collaboration between the various departments within IT, with DevOps seeing increasingly wide adoption as an organizational structure to improve interaction between teams.

In fact, DevOps isn’t only for companies on the bleeding edge of innovation. It is fast becoming a standard at enterprises as well as smaller businesses. Let’s take a closer look at this trend, as it may be time to leverage the advantages of improved collaboration at your shop.

The Emerging Popularity of DevOps is linked with the Growth of the Cloud

Writing for BetaNews, IT infrastructure architect, Jon Topper feels the entry of DevOps into the enterprise mainstream is related to the now near-standard status of Cloud-based services at the business. “2016’s increase in adoption ties in directly with the growing confidence in and uptake of public cloud technologies too. DevOps and cloud remain closely linked; it’s our view that a cloud strategy without a DevOps approach will probably fail,” said Topper.

Since its introduction over six years ago, DevOps has undergone the same level of iterative improvement at those innovative companies first using the organizational structure. With more businesses looking at the Cloud for cost savings and productivity improvements, it now makes sense to use a now mature DevOps as part of a migration to a Cloud-based infrastructure.

A Nimble Business simply competes Better

Providing better customer service – at either a B2B or B2C level – remains a key factor separating the top companies from the also-rans no matter the industry. A desire for this kind of business agility is also causing enterprises to embrace DevOps to streamline their software development and infrastructure management processes with no loss in productivity. In short, a nimble business is a better competitor.

“We’re now getting to the stage where, without a DevOps approach, businesses can’t unlock agility without compromising on quality, security, and people. It’s become a requirement to stay ahead of the game,” comments Jon Topper.

DevOps Adoption brings many Benefits to a Business

Adopting a DevOps structure at an IT department provides a host of tangible benefits to the business. A yearly study – the State of DevOps Report – produced by the software development company, Puppet, details some of these gains. They include the ability to “deploy 200 times more frequently, with 2,555 times faster lead times, recover 24 times faster, and have three times lower change failure rates.”

Firms using DevOps also enjoy higher employee loyalty ratings. They spent 22 percent less time on reworking code; allowing 29 percent more time for new features and innovations, according to the Puppet Study. In short, DevOps is a must if an enterprise wants to successfully compete in today’s business landscape.

Looking at the informed analysis of an IT industry pundit combined with hard numbers from a research study, it is easy to understand why DevOps is rapidly becoming the standard at today’s technology shop. Businesses who forego it do so at their own peril!

Stay tuned to the Betica Blog for additional insights and dispatches from the world of software development. Thanks for reading!

News from the World of Software Development – December 2016

With the Holiday Season in full force, many technology organizations take a few days to rest up before 2017 begins. Despite the break a few interesting stories from the software development still arose in the past few weeks. Let’s take a look and see if any recent news offers some inspiration for you and your team. If you are interested in last month’s digest, simply click this link.

How Design is transforming the Practice of Software Development

Principles from the world of design are influencing how software gets written, especially at companies leveraging Agile as their methodology of choice. This is the opinion of a December article in ZDNet. The piece explains the similarities of thought between design and Agile as noted by Matt Cooper-Wright, a senior designer at IDEO.

“Both processes seek input from beyond the team doing the work. For designers this is user research, business needs, and technology possibilities. For software development this looks more like a backlogs, user stories, and success metrics. Both processes also embrace iteration and ongoing refinement. Design is more about jumping backwards and forwards where software is the continuous loop of development — but both talk to the same notion of ongoing refinement,” said Cooper-Wright.

Faster release cycles combined with a move towards continuous deployment is a major goal of many shops embracing Agile. Design concepts come into play with elegant user interfaces that serve the needs of end-users. Involving creative professionals during the storyboarding portion of the development cycle (and elsewhere as needed) ensures the final product offers a compelling user experience.

Tom Dabson, software engineering manager at Cognizant, sums up this evolution of application development. “We use design thinking as the approach to solving problems,” Design thinking is centered around truly understanding client needs and opening yourself up to try as many things as possible before coming up with the preferred solution,” commented Dabson.

Apple slowing down Mac Application Development?

The rumors are hot and heavy that Apple is deemphasizing software development for its Mac desktop computers. Engadget reported on this potential news story in late December. Considering the lack of new Mac computers for nearly four years until the recent introduction of an updated MacBook line, it is obvious mobile devices, wearables, and streaming media are Redmond’s major focus.

The article noted the poor battery power of the new MacBook as proof Apple’s engineering focus lies elsewhere. More tellingly, an analyst for Bloomberg reported Apple no longer maintains a dedicated team working on macOS software. Tim Cook denies these rumors when speaking to the press, but the real proof is in the lack of innovation on the Mac side of the shop compared to other areas within Apple.

A quote the late Steve Jobs made to Fortune Magazine 20 years ago rings true concerning the current priorities in Redmond. “If I were running Apple, I would milk the Macintosh for all it’s worth — and get busy on the next great thing. The PC wars are over. Done. Microsoft won a long time ago,” said Jobs.

We hope everyone enjoys their Holiday season, and looks forward to a fruitful 2017. Keep returning to the Betica Blog for additional insights from the ever changing world of software development. Thanks for reading!