Testing, the central link in the global technological revolution
However, in order to satisfy or even anticipate the needs of all its « customers » and offer them satisfactory user experiences, digital technology must tackle many challenges.
Testing, as a field of expertise, is a central link in the delivery cycle. It contributes significantly to the achievement of increasingly demanding objectives by constantly adapting to new compliance challenges and business needs for reliability, performance and ergonomics. It also ensures compliance with regulatory and safety requirements.
The Agile approach is reflected in the generalisation of increasingly short development cycles that have the advantage of reducing time to market to a minimum. Agile Testing is an outcome of this organisation. All concerned parties are brought together through the implementation of continuous integration platforms and testing factories.
Tomorrow, projects related to artificial intelligence, big data or 5G will all include a « quality » component, based on testing. Testing will quickly integrate these new contexts to comply with new requirements and be, more than ever, a source of value.
The new issues of testing
Testing faces new challenges. Increasingly complex services are emerging and evolving rapidly. These experiences promote the interconnection of environments and the heterogeneity of offers. The example of combined services (plane + hotel + car rental) or omnichannel approaches are good illustrations.
The expected growth of connected objects, already more numerous than human beings, as well as the arrival on the marketplace of increasingly sophisticated robots will force testers to take up new challenges. Once again, security and confidentiality will be at the heart of the aspects that will require validation.
In parallel, social networks and e-commerce sites feature customer/supplier roles that are constantly redistributed between buyers and sellers. Airbnb, Ebay, Le bon coin, and Vinted attest to that. These innovations in commercial relationships need to be easy to use, and irreproachable in terms of performance and safety.
These are all challenges that testers will have to face with their creativity and adaptability.
Methodology is at the heart of testing’s value proposal
Mastering these new fundamental trends requires continuous research into the most appropriate methodological approaches. To meet the most specific needs, it is essential to support human capital, as well as to work on new technical solutions or dedicated services.
The tester is a real pivot, straddling the technical universe of developments and the strategic world of business challenges. This position leads testers to reinforce their technical and functional role. Their methodological know-how must bring tests and their planning as close as possible to developments in one direction (shift-left testing) and towards quality assurance and business value, and even the contribution to operational challenges, in the other direction (shift-right testing).
This ability to constantly interact with a wide range of stakeholders clearly illustrates the importance of the human aspect in the constitution and ongoing training of testing teams. The evolution of the requirements in this industry implies looking for both soft and hard skills in job candidates. Flexibility, responsiveness, team spirit, permanent adaptation are the assets of a successful and valuable testing process.
Future test solutions will need to combine automated tests and exploratory cycles. The success of the customer experience will be guaranteed by adopting the user’s perspective. In this context, crowdsourced testing platforms will provide real answers to the challenges of e-commerce through their ability to address very broad geographical areas and cultures.
Lastly, it can be assumed that voice-assistant testing will require a redesign of the existing methodologies. Voice, as an emerging and complex technology, will be a real challenge for testing.
All the software quality solutions will make up an on-demand service catalogue that will be constantly updated and adapted. This concept of tests as a service will allow key players in the industry to innovate in areas that are still confidential but where a competitive advantage can be established.
Human intervention and robotisation
In today’s dynamic and competitive environments, failure is not an option. Digital technology is everywhere, to the point that changing insurances or mobile phones can now be done in just a few clicks. Such rapidity would have been unimaginable ten years ago. This transformation of lifestyles has been made possible by technological progress and changes in legislation. However, these possibilities multiplied tenfold go hand-in-hand with an increasingly inflexible and pressing demand. Today, customers get bored quickly and they hate being bored. To remain competitive, suppliers must deliver a consistently innovative service. If novelty, value and quality are not there, customers leave as quickly as they came.
As a major tool in the constant search for quality and innovation, tests must be of higher quality and carried out in greater quantity. The quality delivered must be controlled to ensure it is beyond reproach. This quality must be perceived and measured. Demonstrating that quality issues are being addressed requires validation, necessarily through testing activities. The profession, which has become essential, has evolved in parallel with the transformation of the sector. Twenty years ago, the requirements were less strict than today’s zero defect objective. And, quite naturally, the quality made possible by agility has an impact on the quantity of tests to be performed. Constantly benefiting from enhanced services means more frequent deliveries. The testing effort is multiplied, subject to extremely important turnover and production challenges. By increasing novelty, the entire testing profession has evolved in terms of the techniques it uses, its methodological approach and its working methods. Automation becomes a guarantee of performance and the only way to respect time to market.
Before the 1990s, testing was limited to the industrial sector. However, major milestones such as the turn of the millennium or the introduction of the Euro, brought the industrialisation of tests into the financial services industry. Huge information systems were to be studied and screened. Everything that was going to be produced would be capitalised and then reused on another project.
Agility has made test automation inescapable. Now, test automation is inevitable. Efforts in regression testing have increased exponentially and can no longer be covered manually without using up the entire budget during the first iterations. Besides, a robot running the tests over and over again will not get tired of doing so! It will not make mistakes and will be more efficient than human beings, who will consequently be able to turn their attention to tasks with greater added value. For example, human beings will take responsibility for designing tests, or implementing diverse strategies adapted to different contexts. In addition, through continuous testing, automation must now take its place within DevOps chains in order to further optimise and accelerate software production.
Over the past few years, the scope and challenges of testing have undergone a revolution by adapting to changes in various industries. Increasingly sophisticated practices have led to the implementation of international standards. A common language has been established globally, bringing together some 800,000 certified people around the world under the ISTBQ (International Software Test and Qualification Board) label. Testing has become a field of expertise in its own right, based on specific practices, tools and know-how.