QA – Can it really drive Digital Transformation Success?
Recently Resillion ran a webinar with two of our Digital Transformation experts discussing how QA can drive digital transformation success. Although this works well for some organisations, others still do not allow QA to be at the vanguard of their push for digital transformation. Come to think of it, many ‘standard’ projects also don’t allow testing to be employed as an enabler either…
To think of QA as anything other than a ’slave’ discipline requires a step change in attitude by both the IT and Business departments. To get to a point of realisation that QA is more than just creating and executing ‘some tests’ requires the following ingredients for success:
Vision – You need the right people that are willing to go against the grain and potentially have previous experience in making QA work as a digital enabler, in other words your QA digital disrupters. These champions will need to both sell and prove their ideas to potentially unconvinced stakeholders, teams, and even complete disciplines and departments. This can be achieved through multi-disciplined steering groups, pilot studies, quick win initiatives, reviewing other companies’ digital journeys and deploying third party expertise where appropriate. All visions need a voice, and champions need a sponsor. Wherever possible, a senior stakeholder who ‘gets the vision’ and is able to support it will work wonders for opening doors, getting other key players’ attention and help to move the vision along. The combined focus of this energy will be to show that the vision can become a reality.
Timing – The earlier you can pilot the vision, the better. There comes a point when trying to introduce digital test enablement too late in the day will only have an adverse effect on ongoing programme releases – strike hard, strike early!
Courage – It takes courage to take a discipline that traditionally has been sitting either in its own box or (at best) has a been a poor relation within more co-operative project methodologies with the freedom to run wild and actually drive other disciplines. This approach turns everything on its head.
For those that follow this policy, testing is now a fully-fledged engineering-based discipline with blurred boundaries between test, development, and cloud management. This is possible because QA has to look at many different perspectives from a quality viewpoint – infrastructure, platforms, tooling, data, process flow, technical design, business rules, operational acceptance, security, volume and stress, and so on. The QA team should be the HQ for digital transition enablement – or at least considered to be.
Embrace failure, encourage curiosity – Now this will definitely take some bravery! To allow your staff to fail, learn from that failure, and apply curiosity, will most likely require a paradigm shift in perspective but could be incredibly rewarding and accelerate the build and deployment of your digital programmes.
Employ Star shaped people – ‘Testers ain’t just testers anymore!’. Quality Engineers are typically a combination of developer, tester, communicator, cloud engineer, technical analyst and even business analyst. Training up and introducing new blood into the organisation is a key ingredient for ongoing test enablement success.
Break down the barriers – Silos create barriers. So we utilise approaches such as DevOps / DevSecOps, to drive great communication, transparency and introduce observability, bringing all teams together to a single vision on a pathway to success. Digital Transition feeds off these approaches and allows QA to be used as an enabler as they break down defensive silo-based thinking and teams.
Apply the above initiatives and have a very different looking QA (and overall) capability – but from a digital transformation viewpoint what does this look like?
- Embedded Processes – All testing activities become embedded into the engineering / development of the product / service. Wave goodbye to the testing cycle at the end of development.
- QA as an Accelerator – Testing isn’t just a quality gate or control point anymore. It’s now an accelerator for change, an accelerator to bring maturity to an organisation. If you have a mature QA based engineering practice then you acquire much greater observability thus allowing you to make smarter business decisions. Development teams have more confidence to change and change at will, management teams are more willing to make investment because they have full transparency on progress against plan and the realisation of the original vision.
- Ability to rapidly change tack – A fluid and dynamic QA capability that drives transformation allows you to rapidly meet new business demands, react proactively to a competitor’s initiative, and respond to new market demands. You are not shackled to specific processes or toolsets but instead pick the best of all worlds to meet the task in hand.
- ‘No fault’ approach to lessons learned – As ‘failure’ is no longer a dirty word and curiosity is encouraged, lessons learned become a continuous improvement activity and not just set as a meeting at the end of each release. In conjunction with using effective management tools, the whole team and all disciplines can rapidly understand key risks, deploy mitigating actions and ensure process improvement is smart and effective.
- Future proofing – By putting QA at the heart of a Digital Transformation programme, and by actually transforming QA itself into a dynamic capability, you will ensure that your organisation remains future proofed – able to rapidly change technical and business direction, adopt new technology, tooling and processes whilst at the same time deploying a cohesive and collaborative multi-discipline team that is really aware of its objectives, really aware of each phase of its release and management process because you have an organisation that stretches across from inception of design through requirements and user stories with assurance expertise deployed all the way through to a finalised operational status.
Interested to hear two of our Digital Transformation experts discussing how QA can drive digital transformation success?
Watch the recording of our latest webinar on QA and Digital Transformation here or sign up for our upcoming webinar ‘Better, Faster, Cheaper – why choose when you can have it all! Debunking the myths around Test Automation and discussing how to supercharge your Digital Transformation Programme’ here.