Given the rise in DevOps, are QA and software testing positions too commoditized and undervalued for today’s IT organizations?
I am frequently asked this question by businesses, peers, and customers that secretly hope the answer is “no.” Certainly, testing is not the most popular line item in the IT budget. It is not unusual for organizations to view Quality Assurance and testing in general as a “tax” on IT, as my friend Kevin Lew of Supervalu puts it. However, I would argue that this perception is not the reality. From risk assessment to user acceptance, QA will always deliver value in helping organizations develop, deploy, and maintain outstanding software.
Intelligent Risk Assessment
Intelligent Risk Assessment has never been greater. The Healthcare.gov fiasco remains a favorite cautionary tale because the project featured so many areas where quality could have been improved. However, fresh cases show up in the news every month. The Equifax breach as covered by Dan Goodin at Ars Technica is a recent example. Dan predicted that implementing the security patch using the updated version of Struts could be incredibly labor intensive, involving the need to rebuild apps and test them extensively before shipping to production. If organizations like Equifax truly grasped the risk involved in delaying a fix, there is no question they would allocate resources to addressing quality and security requirements with greater speed.
While QA brings certain value to the table in preventing public relations disasters, it is also becoming recognized for helping businesses maintain a competitive edge. In either case, it is companies that know they cannot afford to fail that understand why quality and testing are critical. IT decision-makers are not the only ones seeking expert advice. In our experience, it is not unusual for Marketing to play the role of primary stakeholder requesting more resources for Quality Assurance and testing. They understand that delays due to code defects, a failed product launch, or savage user reviews can severely impact business goals.
User Testing, IoT, and AI
- UI/UX: Usability testing is a departure from the traditional, commoditized functional testing that dominated the past decade. The quality of the customer experience and the user interface is a high priority right now, particularly for app development.
- Internet of Things: IoT is another emerging area for innovation in testing. The variety and number of edge devices is exploding, creating complexity for QA. As Chris Riley from DevOps.com notes in his article on Functional Testing for IoT, “The heterogeneous nature of IoT Services demands for strong test capabilities to ensure the performance of the services meets the user’s requirements as well as service level agreements between service providers and consumers.”
- Artificial Intelligence: The introduction of cognitive systems is set to change the testing landscape in profound ways and take over many human roles. Ironically, even those who look to AI to replace traditional software testing teams admit that largely autonomous applications would still require continuous training to ensure that technological and business goals are met. In short, AI will augment rather than replace QA professionals and will create new fields of specialization.
QA and Testing Will Change
Over the coming decade, QA and testing as a profession will undoubtedly change. However, our future is secure if we are willing to continuously test the boundaries of our knowledge and upgrade the quality of our skills. It’s also time for QA professionals to take a seat at the table and communicate in terms of risk, not spend. This is how we evolve our roles and increase the value of our contribution.
For companies who do not have the skills to meet future QA challenges, QA Consultants can help. Please contact us here and let’s talk!
Should you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me at bbernknopf(@)qaconsultants.com or via LinkedIn.
Brian Bernknopf is the Managing Partner of the US operations at QA Consultants.