The Relevance of Testing in an Evolving Technology Landscape

Belinda Roskwitalski, Director, Quality Assurance and Testing, BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York
Belinda Roskwitalski, Director, Quality Assurance and Testing, BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York

Belinda Roskwitalski, Director, Quality Assurance and Testing, BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York

I remember a time not long ago when quality was defined solely as “testing,” and testing was merely an option. Since that time, no more than 10 years ago, technology has progressed in almost every field and application—including block chain, artificial intelligence, test automation, testing platforms in the cloud, and application programming interface (API) testing, to name a few.

We live in a world where much of what was relevant yesterday has changed today, and software testing is no different. The testing that was once cutting-edge is now in the shadows as more innovative approaches are developed. How does an individual or business manage to keep up?

Our customers will accept nothing less than a perfect product, and it’s our job to provide it by staying on top of trends. Regardless of the day or year, the definition of quality remains the same:strive for perfection, fail fast, zero defects, and most importantly, automate processes to more efficiently meet business objectives, a foundation in today’s fast paced culture.

  It’s not a magic pill or a band-aid to cut testing time in a pinch, but it does help us work smarter and reach the goal we’re all trying to achieve— a quality product​  

Two of the biggest impacts on the software testing industry in recent years were the advent of DevOps, a set of practices that automates the processes between software development and IT teams, and CI/CD, the combined practices of continuous integration and continuous delivery. As companies continue implementing these approaches, the need to quickly get to market heightens, coupled with an ever-increasing demand for quality improvement at every turn of the automated pipeline. While this is the ultimate goal, a company’sautomated test team may be inadequately prepared to meet the quality demands of DevOps or CI/CD.

Today, testing professionals are expected to approach testing with an “automation first” mindset. They mustcreate and execute automated scripts, and then turnaround and identify the root cause when scripts break, or redefine the scripts when requirements change. They must also understand what it means to test in a container and use tools to test APIs, just to name a few.

While manual testing will always have a place in the quality and testing organization, the demands of today’s business are best served through automation and less manual expertise —one of the biggest challenges facing leaders in the industry today.

The solution? Accept that a higher level of technical acumen and an even higher ability to automate is the new standard for testing professionals.

To make the transition easier,organizations are moving in a couple different directions. Some companies find themselves seeking out tools that promote “low code” or “scriptless” automation. Other options include enlisting consulting firms and training organizations to “upskill” the current testing workforce or pivoting recruiting efforts and job descriptions to stress the need for technical experience and education.

For me, that meant building an automation infrastructure from the ground up. Now, as quality initiatives shift, our team and company is prepared to operate at maximum efficiency.

As new technologies and approaches evolve, we’ll continue adapting. Business and technology leadersneed to recognize that test automation is a powerful tool in driving value for all stakeholders by increasing quality overall, providing better test coverage, and delivering a product quicker, when applied wisely and appropriately. It’s not a magic pill or a band-aid to cut testing time in a pinch, but it does help us work smarter and reach the goal we’re all trying to achieve— a quality product.

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