The Toyota Production System, a world-renowned production system is based on the “complete elimination of all waste”. The “Toyota Way”, grounded on continuous improvement dates to the 1860s. The methodology is widely proven to be successful yet there are still industries within and tangential to manufacturing struggling to adopt its core principles:
- Jidoka: a process should stop when an issue is identified prevents releasing defective products
- Just-in-Time: each process produces only what is needed for the next process in the continuous flow
The QA Manager Struggle
Similar to Toyota Production System’s primary focus on continuous improvement, quality assurance teams are rethinking their testing processes and tooling in order to empower their teams to move toward faster, more reliable, and higher quality software development and delivery. Based on a recent Fireside Chat with Jeff Martin, Product Owner of Test at SmartBear, the key to accomplish this is by embracing your continuous future. Continuous integration and testing are the building blocks that make a continuous delivery engine:
- Continuous integration is the breaking your development into smaller pieces, allowing teams to detect issues earlier
- Continuous testing is the ability to automate your tests to obtain immediate feedback on business risks
Together, these building blocks have not only changed the way teams have structured their workflows and systems, but also has led a mindset shift for the development, testing, and operations teams.
Teams can optimize their benefits of a continuous engine by designing a comprehensive testing strategy that is in lock-step with their development strategy. To truly power this in an organization, continuous integration must exist throughout the SDLC for continuous testing to occur. As a best practice, start with automation to drive continuous testing and then build a process around the tool. Although QA tests are evenly split between APIs versus UIs today, we will see a significant increase in API testing in the coming years. APIs are easier to test, and hence, a great place to start automated testing.
Know What to Measure
Setting the right success indicators against a process is the ideal next step. Breaking your development into smaller pieces will allow QA teams to detect issues earlier, identify solutions faster, and reduce overall risk, leading to three key statistics behind a successful continuous delivery engine:
- Resolution time: Although this is a metric very commonly in place today, expectations for resolution times should increase.
- Risk mitigation: Today, not many organizations measure risk, but this is a new metric to truly assess against your continuous integration’s process for test coverage.
- Frequency of feedback: Continuous integration extends the ability to gather, receive, and act on feedback among all members and activities in a software development life cycle. By understanding the number of enhancements an organization receives and by persona, an organization will be able to gauge frequency of feedback and collaboration.
The Hardest Part: People
Harnessing your continuous future is an investment that requires rethinking. Rethinking by both testers and business stakeholders. Testers will be faced with a mindset shift that requires them to adopt an automation-first perspective to testing and be comfortable providing, receiving, and acting on frequent feedback. The biggest challenge that testers may have when moving forward is convincing business stakeholders to invest in this change. However, not all success has to be top-led -- if managers are not pushing their testers, testers should feel empowered to push their stakeholders.
Making Continuous Integration a Priority in 2018
The next generation of quality assurance has a greater sense of urgency as testing technologies are demonstrating that they can do much more than just the specific objective we task them with. As we set forth to 2018, we asked our automation testing customers what their priorities are: 85% considered continuous integration to be a top priority. Whether it is the 1860s or 2018, forward-thinking companies are still looking to adapt their organizations and operating models toward continuous improvement and delivery.