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Talk to anyone from a modern, agile software development team, and it's evident that most people believe quality is a crucial aspect of their development process. Agile software teams aim to deliver high-quality updates with each release. To uphold this level of quality, significant time and resources must be allocated to software testing.
This raises the question of who primarily bears the responsibility for the quality of the software and whether they find satisfaction in this role.
Stakeholders of software quality
Developers thrive on coding and the excitement of building something new. Many teams rely on their developers to be the primary drivers of quality. Developers not only do the unit testing but also own QA, where they write automation code for regression and end-to-end testing. However, it's rare to find a developer who genuinely enjoys writing code for testing.
For teams that have a QA professional, QA acts as the guardian of quality. Yet, even for a QA, whose primary role is to test, a love for testing is seldom found. Overwhelmed with their workload, QA often strives to prevent critical issues from arising just before a release.
Most teams still heavily rely on manual QA. For such cases, regression testing alone takes up most of a QA's time every release cycle. QA hardly gets time to spend on the more interesting aspects of testing, such as exploratory testing.
Product managers excel at shaping products and driving business objectives. However, finding a product manager who takes pleasure in conducting user acceptance testing and verifying whether a feature aligns with the specifications is quite rare.
What about the other stakeholders involved in testing, such as customer success representatives and business analysts? It's uncommon to find team members who genuinely enjoy testing and taking responsibility for quality.
Isn't it peculiar that, for such a crucial aspect of software development that significantly impacts customer satisfaction, we struggle to identify a role within software teams that would eagerly take responsibility for quality and be happy to test the software release after release?
Common challenges in testing
In my work, I have spoken with numerous software teams about their testing processes and challenges, uncovering some common themes.
Short release cycles
Teams are driven to move quickly and deliver new features to maintain their competitive edge, and testing seems to slow them down. As a result, they often perform basic sanity testing, assuming the changes are good to go and addressing issues only when they are reported.
Lack of clear process
Who is the primary owner of quality within a team? Developers, product managers, quality assurance, or everyone? The answer varies depending on the team, its size, and its preferred approach. However, with no one eager to assume the primary role of testing, it often gets passed around among team members without clear visibility of who is testing what.
Lack of time and resources
Insufficient time and resources are the main challenges in testing. With every release, there is a tremendous amount of work and very little time. This challenge amplifies as the product starts to expand.
To overcome these challenges, diligent teams often attempt to automate testing and improve their testing process. One approach is to use code-based solutions to automate tests, but this frequently results in code being discarded when UIs change. No-code/low-code solutions have been tried, but they tend to be unreliable and lack the flexibility to cover complex scenarios. Manual testing works, but it is hard to scale.
So, where does this leave us in terms of quality?
Ideally, quality should be a shared responsibility among all team members involved in the software development process. Developers, product managers, and quality assurance professionals should collaborate to ensure that quality is built into the product from the beginning.
Nonetheless, this collaborative approach can also rapidly become complex.
Why does a collaborative approach to testing become complex?
There are several reasons for the complications that arise in a collaborative approach to testing. The main ones include:
Diverse Skill Sets
Depending on the testing tools used, some team members may find testing easier than others. Product managers might not be comfortable with code-based solutions, while developers may not enjoy using no-code/low-code tools.
Testing and workload distribution requires significant planning and effort for each release. Without proper planning, tracking what is being tested and the actual status of all testing efforts becomes challenging.
With each new feature, the team must ensure that nothing is broken in the existing system. It is often challenging to anticipate how a small change in one part of the codebase can cause a ripple effect in other areas.
If you've made it this far into the post, I assume these scenarios resonate with you to some extent. However, what's the solution? While software teams may have the best intentions of delivering a high-quality product to their customers, there doesn't seem to be a go-to solution that guarantees success in the face of these challenges.
After facing these issues firsthand, we at Shaztra are developing a solution to make collaborative testing simple and enjoyable.
If you and your team have cracked the code to achieve consistently high-quality releases, or you are simply interested to learn more about Shaztra's approach to testing, I would love to hear from you.