Quality assurance (QA) has become a key business priority when it comes to achieving digital transformation for organisations.
This is according to the 12th edition of the World Quality Report 2020-21 (WQR), released by Capgemini, Sogeti, and Micro Focus.
The report shows the evolution of QA from a ‘backroom' discipline to an integral part of wider enterprise digital transformation.
Contributing to business growth and business outcomes was the highest rated objective for testing and QA at 74% - up 6 percentage points from 2018.
The WQR 2020 highlights that expectations from QA have been increasing with an upward trend across various strategic objectives, including the need for QA to support business growth and the importance of ensuring end-user satisfaction.
Recurring struggles and challenges
There has been steady progress hindered only slightly by recurring struggles, also noted in previous editions, that include skill gaps and getting a return on investment on test automation, the report states.
The greatest challenge in applying AI and ML in QA was identified as skill gaps, mentioned by 34% of respondents (down two percentage points from last year).
Changing methods and solutions
In line with the trend observed in the last two years, this year saw an acceleration in the adoption of Agile and DevOps methodologies.
While there is a marked focus in increasing the level of test automation and shifting testing to the left using Agile and DevOps, achieving higher levels of in-sprint automation and lack of expertise within the QA team to achieve the desired objectives remain challenging.
Meanwhile, the uptake of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) in QA has also increased.
In fact, 88% of respondents said that AI was now the strongest growth area of their test activities, and 86% consider AI a key criterion for selecting new QA solutions.
Even though the benefits may not yet be fully in reach, the vast majority of respondents are enthusiastic about the prospects for AI and ML.
The impact of automation
In achieving quality assurance to a professional's desired level of test automation, the most common challenge in 2019 was the frequency with which applications were changing.
In previous years, the lack of people with sufficient specialist skills and experience within test automation was highlighted.
In the 2020 survey organisations expressed a degree of confidence when they were asked for their views on various aspects of test automation.
68% said they have the required automation tools while 63% have enough time to automate tests.
However, despite these promising statistics, only 37% felt they get a return on that investment, indicating a gap between confidence and results.
COVID-19 and QA
While there are currently many challenges, organisations are taking advantage of the upheaval of COVID-19 to improve their entire approach to QA As a result of the pandemic.
In fact, 47% of respondents said there would be significantly greater focus on customer experience validation and on usability testing.
Meanwhile, 43% of respondents said that the focus on more and better collaboration tools will go up, and 34% said they will need more remote access to test systems and test environments.
There have also been COVID-19-related QA implications around security. 83% of CIOs and IT directors said their application security concerns have increased over the past 12 months, likely a result of the move to a remote working world.
Commentary from the experts
Capgemini Group global leader of digital assurance and quality engineering services Mark Buenen says, “Despite the challenges brought about by COVID-19 it's been a promising year for orchestration and quality assurance in the enterprise. In fact, COVID-19 has acted as an accelerator for QA, demonstrating its integral importance to operations.
"It's encouraging to see that QA professionals are optimistic about their testing capabilities. However, as the findings show, this optimism does not always match up to results.
"By relying more on cloud infrastructure and progressing further with AI for QA, these teams will be able to work faster, smarter and have greater business impact.
Micro Focus senior vice president and general manager for application delivery management Raffi Margaliot says, “QA teams are being spread thinner than ever before, and have responded by accomplishing more with less.
"This has helped them prepare for the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, which have accelerated new digital transformation initiatives, and boosted those already in progress.
"This year's World Quality Report offers unique insight into how software quality organisations are adapting to the new normal and the escalated urgency for modernisation.
"Progress has been made across the board, and our customers are now looking to expand automation across their organisation, and enhance automation through increased adoption of AI.