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Integrating Quality Assurance Throughout the Deployment Pipeline

Emphasis on innovation is a prime requirement for both attracting consumer interest and the assured functionality of the application that integrated testing provides.

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Are your software developers and QA testers working in sync with the delivery cycle? Are all aspects of your deployment pipeline smoothly sequenced? If you hedge in your response, there may be a need for increased QA involvement in your software development profile. Integrated capabilities in Quality Assurance can make or break software delivery. Emphasis on innovation is a prime requirement for attracting consumer interest. Just as important to consumer interest is the assured functionality of the application that integrated testing provides.

Software development and innovation is the creative aspect of deployment. Vision, brainstorming, inspiration, and enthusiasm encompass the intense inventive process of evolving a software product. In addition, the incremental process produces a coded and formulated application that is devised to excite and implement consumer needs and interactive aspirations. However, development does not indicate the final step in the completion of a usable product. Testing whether the application will perform to development and user expectations determines completion, or revisiting the software drawing board.

Although testing tends to be the final determinant of product usability, the testing process need not be the final step in product development. As with Agile methodology, which incrementally develops shippable units, testing is best performed within incremental focal points. Incremental testing that drills into each coding unit eases and smooths out final testing processes and averts revisiting software development and release to correct deficiencies. When each software unit is verified as shippable through the testing process, the accuracy of development is best assured even before final tests are administered.

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At which point is it best to involve QA in the development pipeline? As soon as you are planning an incremental product that aspires to be shippable. QA testing is an essential component of software development, and it is crucial that the testing process begins in concert with each progression in software delivery. With the importance of software verification in mind to achieve the best results, QA must be a part of the deployment pipeline from planning through delivery and beyond. QA review and testing is a fundamental requirement throughout the software lifecycle.

Subsequent to release, user feedback impacts the future of application revision. QA input into planning and development testing reduces costs and time to market in respect to revising applications to meet consumer preferences. Upfront assessments that intricately meet consumer demands, development goals in coordinating consumer appeal with coding and enterprise needs, and the longevity of software functions within consumer markets are probable contributions which arise from Quality Assurance involvement in application delivery.

Often stakeholders, project owners, or the project team recommend or require new tools. How and when to adopt new tools according to need and requirement rather than immediacy is a contribution stemming from QA expertise. QA testing is available to assess the implementation results of newly tooled applications within each affected iteration. QA testing thereby includes new tool assessment in its integration within the development lifecycle. QA assesses the improvements new tooling provides in coding and execution, as well as the extent to which newly implemented tools satisfy stakeholder requirements. QA must review the desire and preference of users, the effective and efficient performance of new tools in expediting software development, and the progressive impact of new tools on enterprise goals and cost and time to market.

QA Testing and the Agile Methodology

Agile methodologies facilitate quick deployment by rapidly producing incremental software deliverables as shippable units. The iterative process of incremental development inherent in the Agile process also allows for the incremental execution of Agile QA testing. Testing parallels and interacts with each unit to determine its shippable state.

Agile production is divided into Sprints, or small units of software production, which commonly have a development cycle of one to two weeks. Each Sprint is characterized by a set of requirements that fit in place as part of an entire software application, somewhat as each puzzle piece completes a portion of the entire picture. For each sprint requirement, QA develops test suites which include:

  • Debugging
  • Test scripts
  • Creation of testing steps
  • Automation of manual testing
  • Development of test modules
  • Recording and reporting of results
  • Exploratory testing of new features
  • System integration

System testing is commonly the final determinant of "done" for the sprint. Usually, once system testing validates the software, the application is ready for release.

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QA and the Software Development Lifecycle

QA executes testing with the customer as the priority. Rather than release software into the market then wait for feedback, Quality Assurance strives for the release of software that is customer-ready while anticipating feedback on improvements. Consumer response to new releases is much more positive with the anticipation of software that will initially satisfy user experience. QA tests are designed to satisfy stakeholder priorities in meeting consumer demand at the delivery outset. Therefore, while development innovates software to capture consumer interest, QA tests application to satisfy consumer requirements. Development represents innovation. Tests represent requirements. The definition of "done" in software release occurs when testing has designated application performance as successful.

The Criticality of Quality Assurance

Different projects have different priorities. The critical requirement for the coded sensor system of a cardiac pacemaker to operate properly naturally takes priority over the operation of an exercise timing device. Critical software is developed and tested with high intensity and extensive auditing and reporting, multiple iterations, and numerous simulations.

More easily developed and less critical software is many times rapid cycled for quicker time to market. Development and testing roles are less contrasted with less complexity in documenting and results reporting. Whether software performance is crucial to consumer health and safety or simply critical to enterprise sales and reputation, Quality Assurance must be on top of the impact software applications have on users as intended by enterprise requirements and developmental innovation.

QA and System Testing

System tests are conducted on a fully integrated computerized infrastructure to evaluate software compliance with operating system requirements and have often been conducted by IT in cooperation with development. With the growing integration of Agile methodologies into the development process, QA is increasingly contributing to system compliance requirements. While IT and development evaluate the degree of integrated software performance (the UI of it), QA assesses the quality of performance in respect to user experience (the UX of it). Quality Assurance evaluates:

  • Clarity of interface design; the user sees at a glance what to do.
  • Conciseness of interface explanations; the user quickly understands what to do.
  • Intuitive recognition through familiarity; user clarity comes from displays that have a likeness to previous encounters.
  • Responsiveness; quick system response to commands and clear feedback as to command results.
  • Consistency; usage patterns that are consistent and memorable.
  • Attraction; interface design that is intriguing and interactively enjoyable for the user.
  • Effortlessness; minimal user effort in achieving intended results.

To integrate QA involvement into system testing the priorities of IT, development, and QA must come into sync. When it strives to make software that is useful to consumers, development must see the valid need for QA to augment and ensure that accomplishment with consumer-directed testing and fine tuning. As it looks at systems interfacing with software applications, IT must envision QA augmenting the user experience through quality assessment. QA, in turn, must take into account the developmental innovations and system stipulations in its assessments. Versatility in QA testing is enhanced with tester knowledge of coding to extend testing concepts beyond evaluating the durability of an application. Test management with the capacity to create testing modules that include software coding preferences, along with system design and dependencies, is much more in depth and therefore results in more stable assurances that deliveries will meet all requirements.

Repetition Is Characteristic

One reason to quickly release software is to assure that applications remain relevant. Consumer interest and expectations fluctuate at such a pace that too much delay in implementing customer demands may result in outdated applications by the time development is completed. Therefore, business investment costs tied up in software development projects must be returned and augmented with quick time to market. Updating software that has captured initial client interest is highly preferable to starting over with development from an outdated product or having to scratch an outdated project altogether.

However, even with up to date releases, changes and updates are all but inevitable. The intensity, challenge, and excitement in delivering software to the market are characteristic of the deployment pipeline. However, deployment is initial within the full software development lifecycle. There will almost assuredly be subsequent releases and iterations. Consumers, incentivized by the initial success of new software will commonly extend their ambition and desire for added flavor to their initial taste for the release. In addition, no matter how thorough QA testing, bugs that interrupt software performance are always a possibility. Success in enterprise requires incremental improvements, consistent idea examination, as well as customer feedback and subsequent updates. To meet these enterprise goals, development must therefore continuously couple with QA and QA testing throughout the software development process.

Within constantly fluctuating markets, requests and demand for updates happen on a consistent basis. It is the responsibility of QA to verify and validate updates in respect to function, appeal, and benefits to the enterprise. Requirements to update applications can originate with R&D, the development process, user feedback, or enterprise directives. However, as a result of the verification and validation processes, QA testing initiates the majority of update requirements.

QA and System Migrations

At times, Quality Assurance teams are responsible for providing requirements and testing for system migrations. Migration is much more complex than simply moving data. Migration is a large initiative which involves customized application consolidation, data transfers, and system upgrades. Migrating data from possibly outdated legacy systems to integrated enterprise resource systems requires in-depth QA testing assurances of maintained data integrity. Migrations require that QA develop robust testing strategies throughout multiple phases of the data transfer operation. Extensive data validation and data cleansing is required and performed through QA involvement before, during, and after the migration process.

Testing the Business Process

The software application is never a static entity, but rather a dynamic process that populates interactions and implements a series of desired results. The best and most efficient process of software development and QA testing is therefore required to augment the experience of what customers are doing with applications. Reciprocally business provides the requirements, tools, and personnel to ensure efficient and effective deployment. Testing critical software or embedded software systems requires the installation of automated testing, development of functional testing priorities, simulation set-ups, unit testing, testing add-ons, versioning, regression testing, and acceptance testing as enterprise responsibilities. As development and QA testing is involved throughout the deployment pipeline, so should business buy-in and support be consistently present for successful outcomes.

Thorough QA testing validates applications, interfaces, and infrastructures, as well as the business processes that surround these structures. QA analyzes how well business interests are met by the deployment process, and what further enterprise support is required to better meet business priorities.

Due to structural complexity, organizations as a whole tend to change and advance more slowly than may certain visionary participants within the enterprise circle. When testing has been traditionally viewed as separate from other aspects of deployment, a consensus must be met that advances QA involvement throughout the deployment pipeline. Business management must view the worth of investment, buy into the change, and lead a consolidated path towards advancement. Then an incremental plan for the integration of QA functions into the delivery lifecycle must accompany the vision for advancement.

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Topics:
qa ,agile ,software development ,deployment

Published at DZone with permission of Sanjay Zalavadia, DZone MVB. See the original article here.

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