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Shift-Up to the Edge

by Michael Giacometti, on 4/3/19

"The quality of your company’s software has a direct impact on the quality of your company’s financial results. You know it. Management knows it. And the importance of quality will only continue to grow with the need for 24x7 operations, high availability requirements, aggressive service-level agreements, and the need to roll out innovative new web-based services."

This was the first paragraph of a paper I wrote in 2005 about how to build your organization around a Testing Center of Excellence.

15 years on, we are still struggling with these concepts. The focus has turned towards project outcomes rather than business outcomes. Reasons include faster release cycles, more complex technology, and more technically astute end-users, with the result that QA lost sight of who was really using their applications.

At the same time, the diversity of everything from the devices people used to their geographic location strained the ability of QA teams to ensure consistent quality.

The way QA needs to deal with changing user habits and evolving technology has created two issues. First, we need to "Shift-Up" and remember to think of ourselves as a customer. Secondly, we need to tweak Technical QA best practices to accommodate Edge and Mobile interfaces.

Shifting-Up contains four distinct concepts. First, a dependency on testing any way your end user accesses your application. Second, leveraging analytics to reflect objectively on how people use your application, while also predicting how the next release will be perceived. Notice the concentration on "perception" rather than "quality". When looking at business outcomes, "quality" may not be enough. Third, each customer, with their own biases, experiences, and technical capability, needs to have a satisfying experience. This means that thinking about how people use your application is as just as important as how it performs. Finally, there is a switch from traditional test management tools to pragmatic AI. The purpose of pragmatic AI is essentially to do what the Test Manager has been doing: select, prepare, execute, and analyze results of as many test cases as possible across as many different mediums as possible. The simple truth is that there is way too much testing for Quality Assurance professionals. Budgets, skills, and headcount may not be sufficient to meet the challenge. The number of possible paths through–and between–applications has increased exponentially. Manual testing can’t keep up, even as the need for intelligent, exploratory testing grows. This is why AI-driven test automation is essential in QA.

The QA Manager also needs to focus on technical architecture. Perhaps there is an increasing dependence on IoT. Or maybe we need to move processing towards the cloud layer of the architecture versus the end-user’s device. This means that QA needs to rethink testing.

"Shifting-Up to the Edge" means exactly that. On the one hand, returning to our QA roots to focus on quality while advocating for the end-user. On the other, how we test needs to change. Quick transaction timing, customer monitoring, and end-to-end automated tests become more important at the device level, while deeper white box and black box testing are required as we migrate from device to the edge layer, to the cloud. Both mean that AI-driven testing that focuses on end user experiences is only going to become more important.

Michael Giacometti will be speaking about Shift-Up at the Test Automation and Digital QA Summit 2019 on 5 April.

Topics:DevOpsUser TestingUser experience testingartificial intelligencedigital automation intelligenceshift upusability testing

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