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Software testing and quality assurance are the cornerstone of software development, connecting early stage code to the customer to ensure that the application or website not only works as expected, but provides a delightful experience. Now that every industry, including healthcare, banking, and hospitality, is competing on the quality of their digital customer experience, the role of quality assurance is even more essential to overall company success. 

Yet software testing and quality assurance have sometimes been a neglected component of transformations like cloud adoption, DevOps, and CI/CD. Despite their crucial role in accelerating development cycles and delivering a satisfying user experience, many software development organizations have overlooked the potential of software testing as an enabler of faster, better development. Enter quality engineering, a holistic approach to software quality that helps companies unlock the full potential of the new world of software development. 

Quality Engineering is Transforming Software Development

The software development life cycle is being transformed by cloud computing, AI and machine learning, the adoption of microservices, as well as consumer expectations for delightful experiences across B2B and B2C applications. In response, the software industry is embracing methodologies like DevOps and agile, CI/CD, and shift-left testing to help their teams innovate faster without breaking their application. But, as the saying goes, this is easier said than done. Cultural and procedural obstacles continue to slow down DevOps and agile adoption. 

Quality engineering, where continuous testing is practiced in a culture of quality, embraces a high-impact combination of manual and automated testing that allows everyone to participate in an organization’s quality strategy. When testing is done early and often, quality engineers, developers, and product owners can ask bigger questions about product quality while also deploying new code with confidence. 

DevOps is Still in Transition

Mabl’s 2021 Testing in DevOps Report found that just 11% of software professionals consider their teams fully DevOps, indicating that most teams are still navigating the road to DevOps. This gives software testers the opportunity to experiment with strategies for integrating testing into their organization’s DevOps processes from the start.  

Like DevOps, quality engineering isn’t a final destination. Instead, both strategies capture a state where software development organizations can continuously innovate and improve with fast, iterative deployments. DevOps ensures that teams can deliver new features or products faster and quality engineering ensures they can do so without risking defects or product performance. Since most teams are still building their DevOps practice, quality assurance is well-positioned to build a complementary quality engineering practice that enforces best practices throughout the software development lifecycle. 

Silos Between Teams are Coming Down

A key part of both DevOps and quality engineering: collaboration. The few teams that consider themselves full DevOps were most likely to have a strong culture of quality across their entire organization, making it easier to test, fix, and ship new products. 

Bar graphs showing quality assurance and manual testers as the most involved team members involved in software testing.

As more teams adopt DevOps and quality engineering, they’ll see developers take on more unit testing and business stakeholders create tests for newly-identified user journeys in the application. Quality engineering teams will move into a leadership role that involves testing in staging and production, high-impact manual testing, managing overall testing strategy, and overseeing testing done by other team members. When entire teams collaborate on product quality, software testing is no longer a bottleneck in the development process and teams can ask bigger questions about quality, including non-functional requirements.

Teams are Moving to Continuous Testing

The term shift-left testing has grown in popularity over the past few years as software development leaders looked for ways to accelerate delivery schedules. But with consumer demands for seamless digital experiences reaching new highs post-2020, leading quality engineering teams are turning to a new model: continuous testing

Shift-left testing activities meant that more tests were moving earlier in development. Though software testing would still happen in staging and production environments, developers would start the testing process at the coding or pull request stages. Continuous testing takes this concept a step further by automating some of these activities - and actually requires passing tests to merge a branch or approve a pull request.

Broader industry trends, like the adoption of continuous integration, deployment and delivery, means that QA teams can make the case for integrating automated testing at each of these stages, augmenting the need for continuous testing. According to mabl’s State of Testing in DevOps Report, 33% of teams are actively transition to CI, while 46% of teams have fully adopted CI, and 36% of teams have fully adopted CD. Without the right software testing protocols in place, CI/CD teams risk blindly deploying bugs into production. The effort to manage customer-facing defects would ultimately undermine any productivity gains made. 

Bar graphs showing the level of management effort needed in quality engineering amongst different levels of DevOps integration.

DevOps adoption - which is strongly correlated with continuous testing - means that teams are far more likely to have a smooth or manageable code release, which is essential when code deployments are happening on a daily basis. 

Quality Strategies Are Going Beyond Functional Requirements

Finally, quality engineering allows the entire development team to ask bigger questions about product quality. 

Bar graph showing the most common types of automated tests performed by quality engineering teams.

Current test automation efforts are focused on UI/functional testing, unit testing, regression testing, and integration testing. Though these are important in developing a thorough automated testing strategy, they only capture part of the full customer experience. As more teams adopt quality engineering, that focus will broaden to include automating non-functional tests such as performance and accessibility.

“Quality” is increasingly being defined by how the user experiences the product. This means shifting away from the binary pass/fail mindset to considering accessibility and performance. 53% of consumers expect web pages to load in 3 seconds or less, and 21% say that slow websites are their biggest headache online. But even beyond performance and building engaging user experiences, quality engineering teams are adopting automated testing strategies that help ensure their websites and applications are usable to everyone with accessibility testing. 

Build Better Apps and Better Software Teams with Quality Engineering

QA is in a unique position to help their organizations succeed in the new world of agile development that’s hyper-attuned to the full customer experience. As more software development teams embrace quality engineering, they’ll be prepared to support DevOps adoption, catch bugs earlier in development, ensure quality more quickly, and broaden their vision of product quality for a more holistic user experience that stands out among the competition. 

Start your quality engineering journey today with a free 14 day trial from mabl.