Last week, I attended the annual QUEST Conference and Expo, along with a few of my colleagues from SPR and hundreds of industry professionals. The event was held on home turf—beautiful Chicago—and as always, it did not disappoint. For those of you who have not been, QUEST brings together thought leaders, innovative practitioners, and IT professionals from across North America for a week of workshops, classes, networking, and straight up nerding out on “Quality Engineered Software and Testing” (hence, QUEST). It’s always one of my favorite weeks of the year.
Attendees leave the event feeling enlightened, inspired, and ready to hit the ground running with the latest and greatest in testing strategies and innovation. As we head back into the office this week, there’s plenty to digest and begin to incorporate into work deliverables. At SPR, here are five takeaways that are top of mind.
Continuous Testing—the “Waterfall” spigot has turned all the way off
Testing continues to shift further and further to the left. The trend today (and the conference theme) is in “Continuous Testing”—each time code is created, it gets tested. Just as Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Delivery (CD) have transformed how teams develop and deliver applications, Continuous Testing is transforming the testing world. And, this isn’t just a technical change, but a cultural one. If your Agile team is waiting until the next-to-last day of the Sprint before beginning to test, you’re behind the quality curve.
DevTestOps—a third factor to consider
Right on target with the conference’s main theme (see above), DevTestOps is hot and won’t be going away anytime soon. Where the worlds of DevOps and Continuous Testing merge, DevTestOps maintains that multiple layers of tests can (and must) be considered as success criteria with each new code check-in in the CI/CD pipeline. Think: unit tests on each build, integration in customized virtual machine (VM) containers, and rapid regression with each installation on dedicated testing servers.
At SPR, we’ve tapped into ‘DevTestOps’ to help develop better tests for each deployment. As a result, our clients can better keep up with growing business demands by delivering high-quality software, faster than ever.
Automate the back end
Test automation started as a way to mimic input and analyze output at a user interface. No more. Automation techniques to validate the APIs and data controls of an application are the foundation of a successful approach to testing. SPR’s testing strategy has always been to provide verification and validation at each layer of software, and the number and variety of tools and techniques to do this through automation is greater than ever.
Traditional “pre-release” tests are more “pre” than ever
In the past, it was perfectly normal to complete performance and stress testing, security testing, or cross-platform and device compatibility testing at the end of the process, as the last steps before release. Now, these previous “afterthoughts” are being brought to the attention of Agile teams and even implemented within CI/CD processes.
Overall, there is a strong push for QA teams to go parallel in testing with development, allowing performance issues and security vulnerabilities to be discovered earlier in the life cycle. By testing and monitoring APIs and services early in production, test and QA teams have the opportunity to gain a better understanding of their applications, improve quality through the entire development process, and greatly increase value to the business.
Maintaining test environments—the hidden success factor
There are more tools than ever at our disposal for just about any task, from managing test data to virtualizing services and creating VMs on-demand in the cloud—the list goes on and on. In other words, there really is no reason you should not be automating and accelerating the quality and quantity of your testing.
The big takeaway here is that if your team spends a lot of manpower on redundant testing activities like data resets, maintaining server versions, or other IT-intensive demands, they’re not acting as effectively as they could be. Consider implementing new tools or processes to increase efficiency and allow testers to spend more time on valuable tasks that require their domain knowledge and skills like new feature development and test coverage.
The service offerings from our two practices, Modern Testing and Test Engineering, reflected the breadth of the industry prior to QUEST. It is heartening to see other thought leaders, presenters, and attendees talking about similar technologies, insights, and challenges that we all face. By integrating testing deeper into project teams, at all levels of application development, we will help our clients overcome these challenges and be ready for what comes at QUEST 2020!