Takeaways from the QA Financial Forum – How QA Can Remain Relevant in an Agile World

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With the rise of DevOps, will QA lose its identity while being merged with pluri-disciplinary cohorts, or will it survive the revolution, becoming stronger and more essential? These along with several other topics were at the center of discussions at the 2017 QA Financial Forum in New York last week.

Key takeaways from the event include:

  • Test coverage is still quite low. Only 1-2% are doing unit testing, and the findings are about the same for test coverage. So there’s a lot of software that’s not getting fully tested being rolled into production.
  • QA very often hears from Agile teams that “We’re Agile, so we don’t need to test.”
  • Having test metrics is difficult, partially because they are hard to produce and partially because organizations are just not ready for the controversy surrounding them.
  • 30% of banks must answer to 10 or more regulatory bodies.

Pressure is mounting for organizations to modernize heavy legacy systems, and that has largely pushed them toward DevOps, Agile and cloud migrations, among other IT modernization initiatives.

To further these modernization goals, many fintechs and modern insurers have merged QA roles with developers, production testers and DevOps experts to re-enforce structural quality gates. This has caused a significant percentage of the QA community to blend into these other roles.

In more traditional companies, however, the fate of QA is not as straightforward. Within these organizations, the QA function is more centralized, sometimes even divisionally decentralized, but always independent from the development organization. Here, QA teams have been continuously improving automation techniques, improving compliance with ever-changing regulations and ensuring software security.

Some CIOs have gone as far as to completely segregate application development from application support and maintenance, with application development teams clearly focused on DevOps and releasing apps more quickly, while application support and maintenance remains focused on software performance and maintaining complex quality issues with heavy support from QA.

As speakers discussed the current environment at the QA Financial Forum, additional trends emerged:

  • Organizations with a Center of Excellence around testing seem to be more mature than others that don’t. If you consider a centralized TCoE as the first stage of maturity, as Agile spreads the TCoE will continue to oversee and structure all test activities across the enterprise.
  • Cyber risk and security is becoming a pervasive issue even for testers. There seems to be more awareness and involvement among QA professionals in application and data security.
  • Getting full test coverage is becoming even harder, and with cloud architectures, it’s nearly impossible to emulate a production live environment for true end-to-end testing.
During this time of tectonic change in technology and the software industry, QA sits at a cross roads with a somewhat uncertain future. 
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Francois Ruchon SVP - Head North America - Banking, Financial Services & Insurance at CAST
My focus is to assist CIOs of large BFSI organizations by providing insight on the tangible values and benefits of measuring software from a non-functional perspective, in an automated manner, and in broader terms, of measuring their application development and maintenance organization to reduce risk, cost and create greater velocity.
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