"Dashboards bring end-to-end transparency"

"Dashboards bring end-to-end transparency"

Quality engineering teams are becoming orchestrators of quality as the uptake of agile and DevOps steadily increases across the development lifecycle. This is one of the findings in the 2020-2021 World Quality Report from Capgemini and Sogeti, in partnership with Micro Focus, blogs Juha Vaitilo.

Agile as a development methodology is increasingly being taken further into the DevOps approach to systems development. That’s no surprise. After all, they combine to counter some of the key trends identified by this year’s WQR. Notably, that the risk and complexity associated with software development has gone up significantly, creating even more pressure to assure high quality. At the same time, the need to do it faster and cheaper is more important than ever. 

In this landscape, next generation testing/quality engineering is not something done at the end of the process or at different stages, rather it needs to be part of a continuous quality assurance (QA) activity. This is where orchestration comes into play as QA teams look to see the bigger picture and orchestrate all the QA activities seamlessly across agile and DevOps teams.  

An end-to-end view 

To this end, we advocate the use of dashboarding in the end-to-end development and ops cycle. A dashboard supports transparency and provides continuous feedbackwhich is what’s needed as the scope of QA and testing continues to expand. We need indications of quality and we need to share those indications across and within teams. 

As we point out in this year’s report, “implicit in the adoption of agile and DevOps is a more collaborative approach to business processes... organizations should aim as much as possible to make QA a shared responsibility, integrating quality practices into every part of the lifecycle”. 

That’s why we were somewhat surprised not to see dashboards feature more highly in the WQR research findings relating to the different approaches to accelerating and optimizing testing. Just 35% of the survey respondents said that they implemented automated quality dashboards to enable continuous quality monitoring. Compare this with 52% for preparing and executing tests as early as possible (shift left) and 51% for maximizing test automation. 

Reporting on quality 

Our surprise stems from the knowledge that visibility is one of the important concepts of agile, and the implementation of quality dashboards can make a considerable difference to implementation. Dashboards play a crucial part in reporting on quality status. And this isn’t simply management reporting but is about providing a picture of quality in terms of whether it is improving or (hopefully not) degrading. 

So, we see the role of dashboards changing. They give a vision of quality: what it was before test, what it should be, what it is currently; what the overall quality outcome will be. Dashboards are no longer just a measure of test case volume but have the potential to provide metrics on business value delivered. Indeed, we believe their use is becoming a must-have and not just a nice-to-have component of projects. 

Responding to a crisis 

Of course, no amount of dashboards and transparency could have prepared the world of QA and testing for what has happened in 2020. The impact of COVID-19 has been felt at a number of levels in agile and DevOps as teams quickly responded to more requests for new functionality and services. In a sense, the pandemic acted as an accelerator for this, which the agile methodology is set up for. In DevOps, where people need a workspace to collaborate and coordinate activities, the challenge has been how to sustain the volume of work when team members and supporting roles suddenly had to move to working from home. Remote collaboration tools now form part of how QA and testing is orchestrated in DevOps, which requires even more transparency and quality feedback. 

Finally, as the WQR points out, quality isn’t only the responsibility of QA teams, neither is it the sole responsibility of the IT function. Instead, the whole organization needs to understand its importance. And IT should educate the business on good practice in gathering, codifying, and maintaining the data on which future software is built, and from which future insights will be derived. 

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  • Juha Vaitilo
    Juha Vaitilo
    CSO, Quality Engineering & Testing Practice Leader
    +358 40 550 0734