World Quality Report 2020-2021: QA transformation is accelerating
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DIGITAL ASSURANCE & TESTING

COVID-19 prompts a massive online shift and a focus on customer experience testing

When we began planning for this year’s World Quality Report from Capgemini and Sogeti, in partnership with Micro Focus, none of us could have predicted the COVID-19 pandemic, nor its impact on the world of testing and quality assurance (QA).

Published on 5, November 2020, the latest World Quality Report (WQR) devotes an entire chapter to the effects of COVID-19. That’s because the pandemic hasn’t just changed ways of working in this industry for the short-term, but potentially for good.

There are a number of aspects that I want to touch on in this article relating to our WQR survey findings  and to conversations we are having with customers across diverse industries. The first concerns the principle on which QA rests, testing to detect, protect and manage risk. The similarities between this and the global response to COVID-19 are striking.

In both, we can see the  importance of testing early, automating testing to achieve scale, adopting a risk-based test strategy, and prioritizing in line with category-based needs. All of us working in QA and testing cannot have failed to make these same connections. Looking ahead, we simply have to hope that, just as in the QA of software and systems, testing for COVID-19 in global populations will ultimately deliver the ‘fix’ needed.

Moving online

My second observation concerns the massive shift to online prompted by the pandemic. Everything that could possibly be moved online went online. Organizations across diverse sectors suddenly had to ramp up their QA and test activity to ensure they provided the same customer experience during COVID-19 as they had prior to it – wherever their customer engagement activities had moved to. This has clearly turned the testing spotlight on four key areas: customer experience (CX), usability, performance, and security. Indeed, almost half (47%) of this year’s WQR respondents said there would be significantly greater focus on CX validation and on usability testing as a result of the pandemic.

Change to survive

Another interesting change as a direct result of the pandemic has been the acceleration of digital transformation programs globally. Many organizations had been holding off on transformation and avoided putting in place digital collaboration tools because they simply weren’t a strategic priority. But with the outbreak of COVID-19 they had no choice. It has been a matter of survival. Only with the rapid adoption of digital collaboration tools, such as Microsoft Teams, has it been possible for some businesses to keep going.

In this landscape, testing does not change but what we test has changed. I return here to the need for performance testing, in particular scalability as some organizations had to scale from thousands to millions of online transactions almost overnight.

This shift happened quickly for some organizations because they were cloud ready. For others, however, that were still using physical environments for their testing and development activities, there was a great deal to be done very quickly. In this respect, the manufacturing and healthcare sectors, including hospitals, had a rapid ramp up to do. For example, 55% of this year’s survey respondents from the healthcare and life science sector said they needed more and better collaboration tools for their teams, as well as more remote access to test environments. In both these latter categories, responses for the sector were significantly higher than for our survey respondents as a whole.

Supply chain mayhem

I also want to point out the impact on global supply chains. How many times were you unable to get something in a store that should have been commonplace? It was the same the world over as many of us couldn’t get basic supplies at the outset of the pandemic. Now that things have calmed down – less panic buying, despite the virus still being with us – there is a renewed interest among many of our clients in rethinking their supply chains. They are using this moment to move to cloud platforms and we increasingly see demand for SAP S/4 HANA Supply Chain ERP. I expect to see more of this as organizations look to build resilience into their post COVID-19 operating strategies.

Of course, part of this resilience must be security. We have already heard of some major security breaches as a result of unsecured remote and distributed working, so security testing must be brought into sharper focus.

New ways of working

Finally, the shift to distributed working demands a new mindset on the part of IT leaders. They must accept that the co-located working models for their test and development teams have been shattered. Instead the way forward that is already in peak play is with a distributed agile model. One that features more real-time dashboarding and visibility. Indeed, one of the recommendations in this year’s WQR is to ‘make room for dashboards’ as part of QA orchestration in agile and DevOps. I believe that some of the best practices to have emerged during the global pandemic, such as distributed agile, will continue in the years to come.

 

Get in touch

As I write this blog, countries across the world are experiencing new waves of COVID-19 and we are clearly not out of the woods. The value of testing in this challenging time cannot be underestimated.

If you’d like to hear more about how COVID-19 has changed QA and test practices, please get in touch:

 

Sathish Natarajan
Sathish Natarajan
Vice President, Head of Digital Assurance & Quality Engineering, Sogeti and Capgemini North America
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