As technology is an increasingly integral part of our lives, the criticality of quality engineering and testing cannot be overstated. At 2i, we understand the vital role that quality engineering and testing plays in ensuring the quality, reliability, and security of software. That's why we constantly review the skills, techniques, tools, and platforms that are integral to its success. Based on this review, here are ten trends we expect to feature heavily in 2023:
1. The rise of "full-stack" quality engineers
Gone are the days when testers were isolated from the rest of the development process. In today's agile and DevOps-driven world, quality engineers are expected to have a blend of technical and cross-functional skills and be able to investigate quality risks using a range of manual, exploratory and automated techniques and tools. Soft skills and critical thinking are equally as important as technical skills for quality engineers, who must have a broad understanding of the entire software delivery process and be able to collaborate effectively with technical and business stakeholders to ensure quality is built-in from the outset.
2. Expansion of quality engineering roles beyond pure test delivery
Roles such as release train engineer and quality orchestrator are beginning to emerge, reflecting the need for testers to have a deep understanding of the development process and the ability to coordinate the efforts of multiple delivery teams to ensure high quality outcomes are achieved. These roles require a T-shaped model of expertise, with a strong foundation of skills in one area complemented by a broad understanding of related areas.
3. Sustainability as a new quality characteristic
Sustainability refers to the green credentials, environmental, social, and economic impact of software products. As organisations become more conscious of the impact of their products on the world around them, they are increasingly looking for ways to design, build and operate software that is sustainable and environmentally friendly. This is a trend that we expect to see continue as organisations look for ways to reduce their carbon footprint and create positive social and economic impacts.
4. The growing importance of testability and observability quality characteristics
In the world of DevOps testability and observability are integral quality characteristics and must be embedded throughout the delivery pipeline to ensure the smooth, safe delivery of software when the business needs it and to the right level of quality. As organisations move towards more complex, distributed systems, it becomes increasingly important to ensure that these systems are able to adapt and evolve over time, and that they can be monitored and measured in order to detect and diagnose issues. To ensure complex, distributed systems can be delivered at pace it's vital that testability is designed-in, supporting testing early and often and enabling effective and informed decision making.
5. Growing demand for accessibility testing
With the rise of mobile first development and popularity of web-based applications, it is crucial that these applications are accessible to users with a diverse range of needs. In the UK, for example, it is estimated that 10% of open QA roles require experience with accessibility testing. This is an area that has often been overlooked in software delivery, but it is increasingly being recognised as a critical component of software quality. We are seeing an increase in organisations defining non-functional requirements related to accessibility, as in the UK and Scottish Government Digital Service Standard. This embeds accessibility characteristics by design and brings accessibility to the forefront; necessitating testing early and often through effective use of automation and tooling.
6. Increased emphasis on non-functional risks in modern delivery methodologies
Agile methodologies have revolutionised the way that software is developed, with a focus on rapid iteration and continuous delivery. In the early days of Agile there was a tendency to focus on functional testing, which has started to shift. For today’s users a positive experience is equally about what a product does and how well it does it. This sees organisations putting a greater emphasis on non-functional testing such as usability, performance and security. We expect operability to be a particular focus and to see the need for infrastructure and cloud testing continue to grow in importance as a result, with organizations validating the scalability, performance, security, reliability, disaster recovery, interoperability, and multi-tenancy of their environments and applications on cloud.
7. Continued shift towards whole team responsibility for quality
In modern agile and DevOps-driven development environments, it is increasingly common for the entire development team to be responsible for the quality of the software they produce. This is where the key skills of testers come into their own, shifting from “doing” testing in isolation to quality coaching, mentoring, and collaborating with the rest of the development team members to promote testability, apply critical thinking skills and enable team members to consider and investigate quality risks independently.
8. Continuous Testing in Continuous Integration, Continuous Delivery and Continuous Deployment models
As organisations migrate more of their environments and applications to the cloud, we expect to see a corresponding increase in the use of popular Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) tools and Infrastructure as Code (IaC) to accelerate and support testing. IaC involves using code to define and manage infrastructure, making it easier to automate the provisioning and management of resources, such as test environments and deployments. Coupled with embedding testing into deployment pipelines using CI/CD this can help organisations to reduce costs, improve efficiency, and speed up the delivery of software. Testers with expertise in CI/CD and IaC concepts and popular tooling will be in high demand as a result.
9. Expanding use of AI and ML in test data provisioning
As organisations adopt more advanced technologies, the volume and complexity of the data that they need to test can become overwhelming. AI and ML can help organisations to automate the process of generating and managing test data, making it easier to test large and complex systems. In a world of GDPR this can be key to synthesising representative production quality data sets and volumes minimising risks of production data leaking into test environments through complex data refresh processes.
10. The impact of emerging technologies on quality risks and testing
The rapid growth of technologies such as blockchain and cryptocurrencies, as well as virtual and augmented reality and the metaverse, has created new opportunities and challenges for organisations in a range of industries. It will be important for organisations to be aware of the potential quality risks associated with these technologies and invest in developing or acquiring quality engineering skills and capabilities to develop test strategies, approaches and automation capabilities in order to mitigate them.
At 2i, we are staying on top of these developments.
As we look towards the future of quality engineering and testing, it's clear that the industry continues to undergo rapid change. We believe that organisations adopting these key trends are effectively positioned to ensure that they are well-equipped to deliver high-quality software that meets the needs of their customers.
What trends do you think will have the biggest impact on your business in 2023?
How can 2i help your business take advantage of the cost, time and quality benefits which could be achieved?
Anna McMillan, Head of QAT at 2i