In the digital ERA, large organizations and companies are involved in technological strategical plans with the objective to transform or modernize their systems in order to provide support and an end-to-end service to the customers or with a vision of 360 degrees.
The digital transformation can be applied following a strategical plan considering one or a mix of the 6 R´s techniques.
These strategic plans have a double slope. On the one hand the technological slope, with the modernization not only of the applications but also the infrastructure, where the software solutions are moving from monolithic applications to global and centralize systems containing all the information and providing support to all departments of the organization. And on the other hand, the cultural change slope, which is transforming the processes and competencies to employees and end users, by the introduction of new techniques and their evolution.
This double slope requires an operative, technological and implementation coverage, and requires an extended vision of the quality, by covering not only quality assurance and testing activities but also the user experience at two organizational levels (company employees) and business (end user or customers).
The quality model to be implemented in the large companies nowadays, should be based on the innovative Spherical Quality – SQ concept, quality adapted to the digital Era. Where it is explained that quality for the digital Era has three main axes:
- Axis X: Definition of the quality standards to be apply along the project.
- Axis Y: Adaptation and Implementation of the selected quality standards into the organization.
- Axis Z: Involve and/or understand the end users (employees and end customers).
Going through each one of the axis and considering how large companies are developing their operational activities, now adays, we can obtain strategic requirements to be consider.
The quality standards nowadays are driven by the implementation of agile methodologies like Scrum or Kanban, with the DoR and DoD quality checks, and for large organizations the scaling of agile is a must to ensure the proper implementation of the quality assurance methods. For example, SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework) need to be considered.
Here appears the first challenge for quality in large companies, “How to scale the agile quality assurance in large companies where the systems and projects are centralized and require a big number of interfaces and interoperability?”.
By considering a standard CD/CI pipeline to apply and automate as much as possible the V-model, the verification and validation model (V&V) that allows a progressive integration of systems between the different areas involved in the project and manage a progressive validation of functionalities and system needs.
The implementation and the adaptation of the selected standards into the company requires dedication and time, for a team that is supporting, training, monitoring, and tracking the adherence that the teams have to the required processes and standards.
Additionally, the implementation and adaptation should be done and managed so that the teams are not blocked by the standards but at the same time gain efficiency in their daily business and the testing activities (which is the basis to obtaining SW quality) and are in the hands of testing specialists.
Experience tells us that the Quality model should consider as a basic pillar the establishment of a quality framework (integration of management tools) that allows the end-2-end monitoring of the team’s deliverables and activities (development, testing, deployment, and monitoring), by providing automatic check points to present the healthiness achieved along the process and environment required by the V-Model.
These health checks are the so called “Quality Gates or Quality Test” the gates established along the different stages of the project to monitor via the exit criteria the maturity that each team or project work-stream achieve during the stage of the project
The exit criteria should be defined according to the specific conditions of the project and should be measurable enough to determine known metrics to be represented as traffic lights:
- Red: The health is bad at the movement of the check and it is not recommended to continue with activities for the next stage due to the very high risk to keep the quality.
- Yellow: The health is close to being good at the moment of the check, the risk to continue doing activities in the next stage is high, therefore it is not considered to continue with the next stage, or it requires a mitigation plan to solve the quality problems.
- Green: The health is good at the moment of the check and the team can continue executing the next stage of the project.
Finally, the importance of the involvement of the end users (employees and final/customer users) is the key to success for ensuring the quality in the digital Era. The most efficient way to involve the end user into the quality of the project is through the testing activities as it brings in the possibility to understand the new processes and competences, get in contact with the new system and application look and feel for the user experience.
The involvement of the end user must be effective, considering the testing activities should be automated from the beginning to the end, since the definition of the requirements are done till the validation of the operational system. The aim should be to “automate the testing process” by thinking in the shift-left and shift-right and not only to think in the automation of single tests.
The usage of low code automatic testing tools with orientation to the end user, like TAST (Test Automation System Tool) owned by SIPSA (Servicios de Informática Profesional, S.A.), allow the maximization of the testing activities including the end user involvement independently of the transformation project model 6 R´s used.
In summary, the quality model should be based on three main pillars: quality framework for quality monitoring, control and traceability, automation of the testing process end-2-end to achieve efficiency in the main activity that provides the quality “testing” and finally to involve the end users through the testing as it is the main activity to be in contact with the new system.
Article written by Inmaclada Alarcón Torres
CTO and TAST Product Owner at SIPSA ( Servicios de Informática Profesional S.A.)