Why You Need a Strategic Quality Platform: Improve Quality Assurance with Unified Test Management

To deliver higher quality software amid shrinking release cycles, many enterprises are turning to agile test management to give them an edge. The right platform can help you glean insights that will both increase quality and reduce time to market.

Why Quality Assurance is Important for Business Success (and How to Empower Testers with the Right Tools)

As more businesses realize new revenue streams and customer engagement strategies through software, quality assurance is taking on an increasingly important role in business success. Despite this, testing often takes place in silos related to a single function’s requirements.

The expansion of QA testing signals a maturation in the mindset of IT and corporate management, as businesses realize QA’s vital role in a company’s success. As QA’s role and responsibilities grow, testers must move beyond manually trying to“break”things to a more sophisticated approach, automating many aspects of QA testing and analyzing the data they collect to gain insights that can reduce time to market and lead to higher-quality releases.

Companies that employ multiple, disparate QA testing tools that store the resulting information in distinct databases lack the ability to gain the kind of comprehensive, organization-wide insights that can better the business. Disparate tools and data analysis efforts limit QA teams’ ability to connect the data to software development efforts in other parts of the business, or to leverage the insights they gain to improve efficiency enterprise-wide. In a software-driven economy, both of these failings put companies at a competitive disadvantage.

Quality Assurance: Not Just for Functional Automation Anymore

While testers still need to ensure product functionality and check the user interface, they now have more sophisticated responsibilities. Today’s QA teams need to:

  • Define application programming interface testing strategies
  • Plan load testing simulations
  • Ensure comprehensive security testing
  • Scale regression testing
  • Measure unit test coverage
  • Conduct integration testing
  • Perform acceptance testing as a final sign-off

These tasks do not differ by line of business or departmental objective, so it no longer makes sense to leave them segregated. A strategic quality platform makes sense in this scenario. A platform enables organizations to:

  • Centralize the necessary checks and balances deployed in testing
  • Enable transparency to testing results and remediation
  • Help bubble up best practices in analysis
  • Unite data across projects that can be used to improve future software design, development and quality
  • Track testing methodologies used throughout the business

Controlling Processes and Data Centrally

Today’s software is more complex, and the teams that test software are more specialized. Some focus on user experience, some on integration, and so on. The activity around ensuring a high-quality software product pre-release occurs in multiple places.

Unfortunately, tools for automation or an automated testing process alone don’t provide what’s needed to see problems in all of these places. But centralization of tools used across the business can help identify when and where automation does not work. Manual testing is sometimes required to find software defects. Those validation processes — and their findings — should be documented centrally so that organizations have a holistic view across QA efforts and teams.

Bringing the decentralized processes and data into a central platform confirms that trustworthy quality testing is happening and turning out the desired outcomes, and also provides opportunities to gain insights that might otherwise be lost.

Dotting the “i” and Crossing the “t” in Quality

Different QA testers approach the automation pyramid from different points. Some start at the top with UI validation, while others begin with broader unit-level testing. Some of the UI contingent consider successful UI testing reason enough to eliminate other levels of the pyramid, perhaps even foregoing unit testing altogether. And to save time or money, unit testing (which starts at the pyramid’s base) may skip mid-level tests.

However, the higher up the pyramid testing climbs, the more brittle the tests become. Arguably, the more brittle the test, the more necessary it is for guaranteeing quality before acceptance testing.

The right quality platform should operate on a firm understanding of how automated testing works, holding development code to the same standard expected of production code. Therefore, any test reporting its data up to the platform must fulfill general requirements, no matter where on the automation pyramid it begins. The platform helps testers select the right solutions for their particular applications and requires a layered strategy to confirm a thorough review.

How Cisco’s Cloudlock Teams Centralized Test Cases with QASymphony

The issue

Cisco Cloudlock teams used qTest Manager from QASymphony to track test cases, but the decentralization of teams meant data from testing did not reach developers in a consistent way. The team realized they needed a centralized strategic platform to gain full visibility across testing methodologies. The right solution would exhibit exceptional performance and efficiency, with test cases linked to Jira tickets that showed test coverage and defect traceability.

The solution

A unique qTest Manager plugin leveraged Python programming and integrated with qTest APIs such as Project, Release, Test runs, Test suites, Modules, Cycles, Requirements and more. The plugin cached all existing requirements from qTest Manager, ensuring an up-to-date list of test matrix components and saving time during test executions. All test results and log details reverted to the qTest Manager API.

The results

Cisco Cloudlock gained a better picture of testing activities from release to release.

  • Test teams comprised only of developers now report all their results into qTest for QA engineers and management to mine in real time, capturing insights into the testing practices of unique teams.
  • Teams with QA engineers chose to automate acceptance criteria, giving themselves more time for test scenarios and exploratory testing.
  • Because all test results are linked to JIRA, engineering leaders recognize test cases run against tickets without having to access qTest.

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