In an increasingly digital world where customer expectations have never been higher, Quality Engineering (QE) continues to be integral to safely and smoothly delivering software products at the right time to realise business goals and deliver value. As we venture into 2024, several transformative trends are poised to reshape how organisations approach Quality Engineering practices; evolving to balance risk and quality with the need to support the incredible pace of delivery, within what is often a challenging cost climate. Let's delve into the profound impact these trends will have on shaping the future of QE.
AI Supported Testing:
AI has most definitely arrived! The integration of Artificial Intelligence into testing practices marks a paradigm shift in QE. AI-supported testing not only accelerates test execution but also augments the ability to identify patterns, anomalies, and potential defects that might escape human observation. The opportunity doesn’t end there. AI also has huge potential to add value to the testing process as a whole, such as in test data management, improving feedback loops from production with deeper insight into user behaviour and learning from available data on similar change to better predict areas of risk. This will lead to better identification and treatment of product risks as well as a significant increase in test coverage and the overall efficiency of the testing process.
Quality Coach Evolution:
The evolution of the Quality Coach role is a testament to the growing recognition that quality is not just a phase but a continuous thread woven throughout the software development lifecycle. By guiding everyone involved in quality activities in implementing best practices, Quality Coaches foster a culture of quality that permeates every aspect of the development process. The impact is quality engineered into products from the outset, with a greater focus on prevention of issues from the earliest point in the delivery lifecycle, more effective detection measures and proactive approach to anticipate potential failures and recovery.
Transformation from Test Management to Quality Orchestration:
Moving beyond traditional Test Management, the shift towards Quality Orchestration streamlines and automates quality activities across the development pipeline. This not only enhances collaboration between development and operations teams but also brings about a more holistic approach to quality engineering. Quality Orchestrators understand the overall product goals and business value to bring together teams within the delivery lifecycle and investigate risk at the earliest stage. Ensuring effective integration by leveraging virtual teams as opposed to standing up separate test teams throughout the delivery lifecycle, resulting in an efficient and coordinated workflow that accelerates the delivery of high-quality software.
Increasing Focus on Cyber Security Within QE:
Incorporating robust Cyber Security measures into QE practices is no longer optional. As systems become increasingly complex and sophisticated so do the attacks of malicious actors. Organisations must have a strong focus on designing and building secure systems that protect themselves and their customers from potential threats. A heightened focus on identifying and mitigating vulnerabilities early in the development lifecycle is key and by integrating security practices and testing seamlessly, organisations can proactively address potential threats, ensuring the resilience and security of their applications.
Service Resilience at the Core of Quality Expectations:
Our day to day lives increasingly depend on technology and as a result user expectations and experience must be at the forefront of our minds and systems and services must be resilient. Moving beyond rehearsed recovery approaches, such as disaster recovery, failover and backout, Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) and Chaos Engineering focus on proactive anticipation of failures and recovery. QE practices now prioritise testing for system robustness and availability. The introduction of controlled chaos experiments helps identify weaknesses in the system, leading to improved overall application and infrastructure resilience. The impact is significant in enhancing application reliability and results in teams being better prepared and practised to respond to unexpected failures.
Expanding Automation of Test Data and Environments:
Availability and effectiveness of test data and test environments continues to be a challenge for many organisations. As organisations adopt more advanced technologies, the volume and complexity of the data that they need to test can become overwhelming. In a world of GDPR and where data is everywhere it is vital to have test data that accurately reflects real-world conditions to enable data driven test practices and approaches and reliable results. Automated test data provisioning is also a key enabler to scale up data volumes to support performance and operational acceptance testing.
Similarly with increasingly complex integrated systems it’s vital to have test environments available when needed with the product and services required and ability to leverage virtualisation of services which are not critical to meet test objectives. Efficient management of test data and environments and highly automated processes are fundamental to success in both areas. AI presents a great opportunity to take this to the next level.
Product Quality Risk Aligned to Business Value:
Aligning product quality risk with business value shifts the focus of QE practices to deliver incremental value for the business early and often. Understanding the end game ensures quality activities can be focused where they add maximum value. Placing emphasis on prevention from idea to production, through collaboration, standards and practices. Complemented with effective detective measures to investigate areas of greatest risk and impact to achieving the end game, ensuring prioritisation of testing efforts based on critical business functions, and a proactive approach to recovery by designing and delivering resilient services.
Dominance of Cloud Platforms, PaaS, IaaS, and SaaS:
Organisations are increasingly seeking the benefits offered by and developing their technology strategies around on demand services, including cloud platforms or Platform as a Service (PaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Software as a Service (Saas) models. Modern QE practices and skills must adapt to effectively validate the performance, scalability, and security of applications in various cloud settings and service models. Developing skills and knowledge in the intricacies of these platforms and service models is vital to embrace the unique challenges and opportunities presented.
The Continued Rise of the “Full-Stack” Quality Engineer:
This was a key trend for 2023 and continues to be a focus for 2024. In today's agile and DevOps-driven world, a holistic approach to quality is vital. As such 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.
Testability, Observability and Sustainability – the Quality Triad:
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. In addition, organisations are increasingly seeking to ensure that the software they develop and deliver is sustainable considering environmental, social and economic factors. 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 and enhanced it's vital that testability is designed-in and observability is leveraged to learn from how systems are used and behave to inform future enhancements. This needs to be balanced against the drive to embrace sustainability as a quality characteristic contribute to the creation of software solutions that align with broader global goals, making a positive impact on the world. What a wonderful world it could be!
At 2i, we are staying on top of these developments and embracing the opportunities they offer.
We believe that the future of Quality Engineering is not just about adopting new technologies but fundamentally transforming the way we approach and integrate quality into every stage of the software delivery lifecycle to delight customers and achieve business goals. The World Quality Report 2023-24 echoes this, highlighting that quality is now a boardroom priority and emphasising the evolution from conventional testing to agile quality management practices.
What trends do you think will have the biggest impact on your business in 2024?
How can 2i help your business take advantage of the cost, time and quality benefits which could be achieved?