Software Testing: Scale Up or Scale Out

The COVID crisis has highlighted and created gaps in IT operation models, which directly impede software testing. The main challenge now for software testing teams is how do you mitigate risks when the dependencies you relied upon to get the job done have been compromised?

After facing multiple lockdowns in the UK, how do you deliver high-quality software testing in a time of COVID? I see these testing challenges broadly categorized into three key areas: Resourcing, Operations and Ways of working.

Resourcing

This category is subject to the most change due to tension between demand and supply within departments and projects.

Constraints on capacity and available skill levels are impacting test delivery due to staff redeployment, redundancies, illness and childcare responsibilities.

Additionally, an increased management overhead for the coordination of remote teams, along with the need for other business areas to take on additional responsibilities to backfill for absent staff, further impairs the ability to deliver.

Finally, the dilemma around hiring in-house resources versus the flexibility of outsourced resourcing to maintain project roadmaps through the uncertain waters of 2021. I was told by a customer of mine recently that “Permies are for life, not just for Christmas”, and that lady had a very valid point.

Hiring and retaining good staff with the right skill set has always been a challenge for companies, especially in uncertain times. Businesses need the benefits and stability or a more predictable Core/ Flex model, where there is a blend of in-house and outsourced resources. This approach should provide suitable cover for BAU as well as more complex projects, where in-house teams may lack specific skillsets that are required for these shorter-term projects (NFT, Automation, SDET’s) to name a few examples.

Outsourced QA partners can provide SMEs with the diversity of skillsets available, to provide additional support to test teams encountering resource or knowledge shortages.

  • Provide capability to supplement teams with resources who have worked with similar clients and have insight experience, to cover for staff redeployments.
  • Provide test management capability that can also support program management and deployment activities.
  • Perform test risk reviews on programs that have been suspended, to enable the safe integration of paused change.

Operations

The ability to carry out the appropriate level of testing for operational readiness was vital. This included test coverage for business-critical processes, recovery capabilities and GDPR compliance.

Businesses must now continue to support significantly increased numbers of remote workers and, where surge demand occurs, the efficient on-boarding of new hires. A further and important future consideration is how to safely integrate or restart suspended programs of change as we begin to exit this 3rd and hopefully final UK lockdown.

Ways of working

Project teams have had to and continue to explore new approaches to managing their daily activities to ensure delivery remains on track. This involves tracking progress and identifying opportunities to remove factors that impede the efficient delivery of remote teams.

New ways of secure remote working, which leverage the technologies available, were needed to be developed – actively promoting daily team collaboration and “connect” is an investment most successful organizations made.

Summary

I believe with software development paradigms shifting left post-Covid, continuous testing is the key differentiator that will enable teams to deliver Quality at Speed. This magic can be achieved in the WFH context with the help of the right people, skills, processes, and tools. 

Partnerships with outsourced QA specialist organizations, that deliver you customer-centric solutions to support a Core/Flex model for the foreseeable future, are key to mitigate risk and continue at velocity with much-needed project roadmaps.

Thanks for taking the time out of a busy day to read my perspective, I would love to hear yours if you at andy.irving@globalstep.com.

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