Overcoming Technical Challenges for QA and Testing Teams in DevOps

As DevOps requires constant monitoring at all stages, and as new technologies are constantly introduced, it presents some new challenges for QA and Testing teams.

QA and testing teams

Improved Quality Assurance (QA) and Testing systems have enhanced and accelerated the methods of monitoring and testing software without compromising competitiveness in industry standards, such as speed, cost, and, most importantly, quality.

Similarly, the DevOps model, which unifies software development and software operations, has been successful in breaking down interdepartmental barriers to progress.

However, as DevOps requires constant monitoring at all stages, and as new technologies are constantly introduced, it presents some new challenges for QA and Testing teams.

The Importance of Early Testing Models

The core idea behind DevOps testing is to catch defects before they cause problems, so code testing is done before its intended feature is complete. The real problem for testers here is that this needs to be done with completely self-sufficient and independent QA and Testing systems.

Catching bugs in a timely manner is beneficial because they are easier to fix in the earlier stages. Catching architectural complications earlier, however, is incredibly valuable, as it can shape the way the developers work for the remainder of the project.

In this sense, the QA and Testing teams of the DevOps model are just as important as the developers because they help shape the entire development process.

Understanding Company Processes

Often, the development team itself does not fully understand their own processes, which makes it difficult to understand the purpose behind them. Particularly for QA and Testing teams, this presents a problem.

The team needs to know and understand these processes in order to choose which one is most compatible with their testing scenario. Many cases of incomplete and/or erroneous QA testing are due to this lack of communication and understanding of company processes.

Balancing Speed vs. Risk

One of DevOps’s purposes is to create shorter development cycles, thereby increasing deployment frequency.

When moving to a system that incorporates more speed, however, QA and Testing teams need to make sure the speed increase does not compromise the QA process and that there are no hidden side effects within the altered architecture of the systems.

Managerial Inadequacies

Regardless of which development model is being used, poor management and lack of leadership always comes with the potential to set back a development project.

In the case of QA testers, a management system that doesn’t value the early stages of QA testing can cause flaws to go on too long and architectural defects to be caught after it is too late.

This is frustrating for the testers, who will understand all too well the preventable nature of these system errors.

Testing Automation

Automation has many benefits, as well as many drawbacks; it saves time, if working correctly and as thoroughly as a human, but machines inherently test for the same errors, and do not have the capacity to think outside of their programmed boxes. This capability allows robotics to clear problematic systems, allowing them to move on to the next step.

The important thing is that the QA team, with full communication with the other departments, comes to an agreement on when and how much of the testing (if any) will be automated – and the earlier the better so that the systems in place are consistent.

Comprehensive Understanding of the Product

While we are listing this as a challenge faced by QA and Testing teams under the DevOps model, for the project as a whole, this requirement is a blessing in disguise.

Under the comprehensive systems development model of DevOps, departments work together with increased communication, and this yields a safer, more productive environment, in which better systems can be produced.

Here, QA and Testing team members need to collaborate with the business stakeholders, users, product owners, and anyone else involved with the software, to act as a facilitator of true, comprehensive quality.

An outsourced QA team may be less than enthused by this — as it is essentially more work for them, with the expectation to be an involved party in an external company — but the end results will be better.

The Cloud

As with the move to mobile devices, the Cloud is just another phase in the evolution of software development, but it is one that is presenting QA teams with new problems that require new solutions.

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Not only can we store files in the Cloud, but software and related infrastructure can also be embedded into it, so testers need to make sure that it can operate under the same security and performance guidelines as a dedicated server. This means focusing on peak times for all users, as well ensuring that the backup schedule is operating correctly.

Big Data

The world is coming to understand the power behind big data. Advertisers can now pinpoint their ads with such accuracy that consumers are even beginning to feel violated.

This data revolution can be used for good or bad, but, as we have been seeing in the recent news involving Facebook and other important actors, big data comes with big problems.

Outside of the ethics discussion, problems caused by the data storm can include leaks in some form or another. This is where QA testers come in – they are in high demand in this realm but have a lot of responsibility – primarily to make sure that data can be downloaded, processed, stored, and released without error.

Managing Communication with all Departments

The communicative nature of the DevOps model of software development has paved a path for cleaner, more secure systems to be built in shorter duration. However, it adds a little bit of effort for the QA team, as its members are not exempt from the requirement to collaborate with all other departments.

While the tech-savvy are not generally known for their verbose personalities, they may find that this interconnectedness helps their purpose in the long run.

In spite of these challenges, DevOps has provided developers with an environment in which they can cross-collaborate on their knowledge and experience and can communicate more clearly during the software development process. These benefits have had a spillover effect to the quality assurance and testing teams, shifting its role from the previous fire alarm system to that of a police patrol system — instead of putting out fires, teams now manage quality from the beginning, ideally never letting problems grow past the initial stages.

This approach improves the system because defects are easier, cheaper, and less stressful to fix when found in their earlier stages. While requiring a little more work up front from the testing teams, this is a system which allows more control over the duration of the entire development process.

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