DevOps refers to a set of practices, tools and principles that emphasizes cross-functional cooperation to create a fast-paced, result-oriented and collaborative environment. The DevOps approach stresses the creation of multi-disciplinary teams. Whereas previously this referred to the unification of Development and IT Operations, companies are increasingly realizing the importance of embedding QAs into their teams as well. Quality Assurance is now an essential pillar for building an effective DevOps ecosystem. By incorporating automated testing as a collaborative effort introduced early into the software development cycle, companies can save a lot of money, effort and time. For software development companies looking to code, build, test, and deploy software as a continuous process, DevOps is the most preferred methodology in the current agile age. Most importantly, DevOps ensures faster deployment, saving valuable time-to-market. In order to ensure the seamless integration of QA into the DevOps process, the following four factors play a critical role:
1. Ensure Thorough and Critical Testing
A primary function of QA is testing; therefore, relevant and experienced testers must be part of the team. Testers should have a clear testing strategy
in line with the project objectives. They should be committed to quality and carry out thorough iterative testing at every stage of the software development cycle to ensure the development of error-free end products. They must be adept at risk management and be able to identify, analyze and mitigate risks in time. They should think critically around the functional and non-functional aspects of the application, not losing sight of agile use cases. The ultimate objective of all software development is to achieve user satisfaction. End-user experience tests should be thoroughly conducted by working closely with the user community. Testers should incorporate user perspective to drive all end goals to create applications that are intuitive, easy to use and that meet the functional and business requirements of the clients.
2. Understanding of Tools and Frameworks
While a generic critical thinking and exploratory approach are essential, a sound understanding of the specific development environment is equally important. Testers should be clear on all requirements and desired outcomes and work closely with developers at every stage. This ensures testers are adding value to the discussions and are on-board with the development team on possibilities and limitations. Automation of testing processes is an important aspect of a good DevOps testing strategy. A good team should have capabilities for both manual and automated testing. Test automation engineers should have a firm grip on automation processes, be able to choose the right testing tools
according to project needs and available expertise, and identify and execute relevant test cases where needed. It is crucial for teams to have complete clarity on the use of tools, frameworks and end goals in order to avoid delays at any given stage of development.
3. Agile Testing Practices
DevOps integrates development, QA, and operations. It is a developed take on the agile methodology. With a focus on continuous delivery and continuous integration pipelines, automation of processes and collaborative effort, DevOps incorporates agility by ensuring speed and quality in software development. In order to make sure that the Agile/DevOps environment thrives at its optimum, the QA lead/manager must align the right time and resources to the right risks. To implement this, at least some of the team members must have experience of working in dynamic environments. Also, the processes should be able to integrate into cross-functional, distributed teams to ensure continuous integration, development, testing, and deployment. QAs should not work separately but be present from the start to work alongside developers and clients to understand business requirements. By implementing shift-left testing, problems can be identified and resolved earlier in the development cycle. Testing should be done frequently but only where necessary. The team should work together to determine testing requirements and automation needs in order to deliver high quality results within budget.
4. Relevant Industry Experience
Relevant industry experience ensures that the testers involved are familiar with user experiences, possible impact on business and can anticipate potential bottlenecks. Having previous experience means that they are up to date on the latest industry trends and are familiar with the practical implementation of that knowledge. Testers with a strong grip on testing strategy and planning, test prioritization, development and execution and risk management can help increase efficiency and deliver the highest level of business impact. In DevOps, testing becomes the collective responsibility of the entire team. Testers with previous experience are better able to anticipate and face challenges, come up with quick and effective solutions and provide valuable guidance, tips and suggestions to other members of the team. Industry knowledge and expertise can help testers follow a systematic approach and coordinate closely with relevant stakeholders to advocate best practices in all quality assurance processes.
Synchronization of the three pillars (Development, QA and Testing, and Operations) is critical in software development today. When teams work in silos, it can lead to a lot of miscommunication, bottlenecks, and wastage of valuable time and resources. However, following agile and DevOps approaches ensures smooth processes and transitions and result in software products that meet expectations and deliver substantial business value in the software delivery cycle. Integration of DevOps and QA can accelerate the development and deployment of quality software. By shifting to a mindset that encourages collaboration and teamwork, teams can work side by side to monitor and resolve issues and failures, incorporate user feedback and focus on enhancing user experiences.
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