The fairly ominous title of the Forrester 2021 Predictions paper for software testing ‘Software Developers Face Mounting Pressure’ really does capture the changes that have been wrought by the global pandemic on a sector that is now even more digital, driven, and deadline-powered.
No, the sector did not collapse, thanks to the weight of this pandemic like many others, but it has meant that software development teams and testers are under immense pressure to meet increasingly tight deadlines in increasingly complex times.
As the world shifts into second-quarter gear, Mandla Mbonambi, CEO of Africonology believes that some definitive trends will shape the software testing and security landscape over the next year.
“The industry is incredibly challenging right now – the pressure is on the software tester to ensure that quality is baked into every aspect of development, but at greater speeds,” he adds. “Organisations know that quality is critical, but they also know that it is important to leverage emerging technologies, to stay ahead of the trends, and to lead with innovation. These boxes cost the tester time and stress to tick.”
The World Quality Report 2020-2021 underscores the growing expectations that are emerging around QA as organisations recognise its value in driving business growth and ensuring successful digital transformation. For most organisations, the leading objectives for QA are: contributions to growth and outcomes (74 per cent), ensuring end-user satisfaction and customer experiences (70 per cent), detecting software defects before go-live (72 per cent), making QA smarter and automated (62 per cent), and supporting the team to achieve higher quality (60 per cent).
QA remains a critical factor in DevOps and embedding ability, and it is evolving rapidly in its adoption of emergent technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.
“Automation has become a key factor in supporting software testing in meeting demand and growing business expectations,” says Mbonambi. “As the solutions and applications become increasingly cost-effective and relevant, they are providing organisations with trusted tools and capabilities. While automation is still relatively early days, it is proving to be increasingly invaluable for streamlining processes and improving speeds in the QA process.”
It is codeless automated testing that is rapidly moving up the trend ranks in this space. These tools leverage the range of AI technology, visual modelling, and accessible platforms and help testers to save time, improve speed to market, reduce complexity, and streamline testing. This technology does not impose a high barrier to entry for the tester which makes it very accessible, and it can potentially save the company money in the long term due to more efficient use of resources.
“Codeless automated testing makes life a lot easier for testers and organisations alike,” says Mbonambi. “These tools are designed to minimise complexity so most users can take advantage of their capabilities without having to learn new languages or undertake lengthy training courses. This means that the benefits are almost immediately felt, which has a knock-on effect with regards to efficiency, speed, and costs.”
That said, the relentless pressure on the tester to go faster, do more, and achieve more with less means that there will be even more pressure on teams to learn new skills and advance their testing toolkits. Many of the platforms taking centre stage today – such as Kubernetes containers – require that developers have a clear understanding of the architecture and tools to fully realise system potential and risk. This means that organisations will need to invest in their teams to ensure they are upskilled to remain relevant.
“Skills development is a critical part of the job,” says Mbonambi. “Like the medical profession, developers, and testers must undertake continuous professional development to stay up to date, to ensure business relevance, and to drive efficiencies. This is incredibly challenging but is one of the reasons why working in this sector is so rewarding.”
It is also the reason why it is worth collaborating with organisations that specialise in the training and curation of skilled testing, QA, and developer talent. The pandemic drove the world to digital and ignited new ways of collaborating and engaging with third parties to improve efficiencies and plug unexpected holes.
In the DevOps, DevSecOps, QA, and developer realm, collaboration allows for enterprises to tap into skilled and relevant talent pools that have hands-on expertise and that can step in and step upon demand. This not only minimises the CAPEX cost to the company with a reduced staff admin burden but maximises value-add in working with people who can offer highly targeted expertise.
“To fully realise value, to accelerate speed to market, and to drive efficiencies within DevOps and testing that exceed expectations, working with a trusted partner can make all the difference,” concludes Mbonambi. “The future is not the Jack of all trades; it is working with masters to refine your solutions to the point of perfection for your customers.”