3 months Blog

QAOps – Just the latest buzzword or something more?

Working for ROQ, an independent software testing consultancy I have seen lots of buzzwords, methodologies and approaches come and go! But I personally like the addition of QAOps to the lexicon.

Firstly, let us define it. There are a few definitions out there, but I think the following covers it nicely.

“QAOps is a combination of Quality Assurance (QA) and software operations. QAOps aims to achieve high-quality software by using a DevOps approach. This framework was created to enhance software delivery processes and workflows while keeping the quality of a product. Thus, QAOps combines QA practices with software development and IT operations to develop a long-term, integrated operational delivery model.”

(Constance Drugeot, 11 Nov 2020, Software Testing Magazine)

The only thing I would add to that definition is that QAOps is in my view, all about supporting the continuous integration of code and the continuous delivery of features and fixes into software. To put that another way, QAOps is absolutely necessary to enable CI/CD pipelines to work efficiently.

This is because the regularity and speed of change inherent to CI/CD requires that quality be part of every step – otherwise, all that is achieved is poor quality, but faster. QAOps is about embedding test professionals and a quality mindset at every stage of the software development lifecycle.

Some of the more specific features of the approach are:

  • Test professionals being involved in requirements gathering. Ideally creating executable requirements that feed straight into automated tests.
  • Leverage test automation were ever practicable, focus on repeatability, maintainability, and speed, for example, more API than GUI.
  • Increase speed. For example, through parallel execution and regression testing that kicks off automatically following code changes, thanks to QA integration into CI/CD pipelines.
  • Focus manual effort on testing that cannot be automated, exploratory testing and niche/unique testing events.

The biggest feature though is the mindset shift required from all involved to ensure everyone understands that the goal is a quality product and therefore quality needs to be considered at every stage. This approach to testing adds value across the SDLC, reducing the cost and time taken to arrive at a quality product.

So QAOps is the way to increase collaboration, quality, and productivity – the holy trinity that organisations (should) want to achieve.

Based on the definitions given above, you are perhaps thinking that this sounds familiar to how you or teams you know have been working for some time. Just because lots of organisations still have not embraced modern ways of working does not mean others haven’t. Many have, so why are we re-branding what many would simply call good practice (or some other popular SDLC approach term from the last 10-20 years) as QAOps?

The answer, I think, is the shift in mindset and then good marketing to spread that shift.

Users are becoming less accepting of inferior quality and are more able to shop around for high quality. Such as in the world of retail banking where many users have changed from traditional banks and their notoriously flaky apps to challenger, app first, banks. This has caused organisations to openly discuss quality and consciously start to plan quality into products (the mindset shift). The importance of test professionals and the quality mindset they possess has never been greater and so a term that highlights the importance is rightly needed. QAOps is that term (good marketing). The fact that many teams have been working this way for years is not a reason to dismiss QAOps as just another buzzword. Instead, it is a reason to be happy that testing, quality, and the testing professionals are being seen as the key to delighting customers with products/services/solutions that work, work well, and are regularly updated with features that users want.

Even if you think QAOps is just another buzzword, it can still have its uses. The term should give test professionals the power to push for change in organisations that are not yet working in this way (marketing again). As they now have a name to pin to the approach they are advocating. That name is QAOps.

Given the success of other named approaches in spreading understanding and focusing the mind on a particular output. I think this could be the best buzzword for improving quality, and importantly, user experience, to date.

I’ve always felt test professionals do not make enough noise about the value they bring – hopefully, this can now start to change.

These are very much my thoughts and it would be great to hear your views on QAOps. Do you think it is important to have defined approaches that highlight the impact of test professionals and a quality mindset? Or is it just another buzzword that will be replaced sometime soon?

Thanks for reading.

 

David Moore – Client Services Manager, ROQ

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