Recent Research Links a Strategic Approach to QA with Agile and DevOps Success

In an increasingly agile world, success hinges on understanding the business value of software quality

Agile processes are becoming increasingly embedded in enterprise development initiatives, VersionOne’s latest State of Agile report found. According to the report, which is compiled based on data from an annual survey, 97% of organizations now practice agile in some form, up from 94% last year. But this year, a higher percentage of respondents report that “all or almost all” of their teams are agile, and that agile principles and practices are being adopted at higher levels in the organization. Additionally, 71% of companies surveyed report they will have some sort of DevOps initiative underway in the next 12 months.

“This year’s report affirms the effectiveness of agile in accelerating software delivery and helping teams manage the changing priorities within their organizations, Lee Cunningham, Sr. Director of Enterprise Agile Strategy at CollabNet VersionOne, said in a press release. “We also see in this year’s report that agile adoption still has a long way to go.”

So what separates agile and DevOps experts from their less advanced peers? A Forrester Consulting research study published this week indicates that a focus on software quality is a major differentiator.

The study, commissioned by Tricentis, shows that there is a significant difference in how organizations with mature agile and DevOps practices measure software quality. Mature organizations tend to focus on business risk. Though risk-based metrics were not among the most popular metrics organizations reported measuring, agile and DevOps experts consistently rank risk-related metrics among their top 3 most valuable metrics in different phases and categories.

Organizations with mature agile and DevOps practices also tend to focus on contextual metrics such as requirements coverage, rather than simply counting the number of tests run or defects found. These organizations are also significantly more likely to have high levels of test automation, and are almost twice as likely to consider automating the software quality process a critical business differentiator.

“Organizations adopt DevOps to accelerate the delivery of innovative software that creates positive user experiences,” explained Clark Golestani, Managing Director of C Sensei Group and former President, Emerging Businesses and Global CIO of Merck, in a press release about the report. “If you start accelerating delivery without also rethinking your approach to quality, you will end up rapidly delivering updates that drive your customers to competitors. Automated, continuous testing is the gate that allows you to protect your organization from significant risk as you innovate at the speed modern business demands.”

That shouldn’t come as a surprise. As QASymphony has reported, accelerating time to market for mediocre software will get you nowhere fast.

Not only can a strategic approach to quality help companies avoid releasing bugs into production that could lead to customer attrition — if approached and measured correctly, QA can also increase time to market, improve customer satisfaction and help drive revenue. As this research points out, understanding the strategic importance of quality is something that separates business leaders with mature agile and DevOps practices from the rest.

To learn more about measuring and communicating the business value of software quality, read “Three Tips for Communicating QA’s Strategic Value to the C-Suite.”

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