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Testing in the Agile Era: Top Tools and Processes

On average, 35 percent of total enterprise IT spending now goes to testing, a 9 percent increase over last year, according to the recently released World Quality Report 2015 from Capgemini, Sogeti, and Hewlett Packard Enterprise. The global report, which surveyed 1,560 senior IT executives and testing leaders from 32 countries, predicts that budgets will rise further, with testing set to claim 40 percent of total IT spending by 2018.

The direct correlation between software quality and the level of budget allocated for delivery teams shouldn't come as a surprise, but this is great news for software quality professionals.

As DevOps drives faster releases, the speed of modern development intensifies the pressure on testers to find important defects earlier, before product rollout. Optimizing the release pipeline, building in automation, and hitting the market ahead of competitors are key aims for many businesses, and they can't be achieved without assigning more resources dedicated to testing. This pressure has driven the widespread adoption of agile testing, and it's starting to pay dividends in terms of speed to market.

It's not just about delivering faster, though. The Internet-connected, social media-savvy customer of today is in a much more powerful position than ever before. A serious failure or defect that slips through the cracks can go viral online if a complaint is made, and the mistake can be compounded if it's not gracefully handled by public relations. The Capgemini report found that protecting the corporate image was the top software quality and testing objective for executives, closely followed by increasing quality awareness and ensuring end-user satisfaction.

For a while it looked as though the shift to continuous delivery and automated testing was being used to squeeze budgets, but there seems to be a growing realization of the importance of proper testing. By removing the burden of repetitive tests and building automated security components into testing suites, testers can be freed up to focus on the customer experience and business functions of the app. Techniques like context-driven exploratory testing deliver much greater value, and they're better suited for a live product that's constantly evolving.

To get the best results from this new investment of capital, companies need to fold testing into the DevOps mix and adopt an agile testing mindset. The earlier that testers are involved in the process and the more closely they are aligned with the development team, the greater the results will be. In many cases structural changes are required, and testers need to be empowered to deliver a real return on investment.

Testers also need to develop new skills, beyond ticking functional boxes or testing automation design. They should act as advocates for the end user and product critique to ensure that the app meets expectations in the real world. They are a bridge between the development team and the end user. There's an exciting opportunity here for test professionals to develop their skills, enhance their reputations, and lead the way toward better quality software for all.

Topics: Dev & Test

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