Testers, DevOps, and Enabling Digital Transformation

By Gerie Owen

To be successful in today’s business environment, virtually all organizations must plan for digital transformation, not only to thrive but to survive. Often, when organizations embark on digital transformation initiatives, they turn to DevOps to increase business value and improve customer experience.

Testers, as champions of the customer and guardians of their organizations’ digital reputations, are uniquely positioned to enable digital transformation. We enable digital transformation by focusing testing on business risk and customer value as well as transforming our test processes.

DevOps enables Digital Transformation. The synergy is clear: digital transformation and the principles of DevOps are closely aligned. Specifically, continuous integration and continuous delivery enable innovation in operations, streamline processes and eliminate bottlenecks.

Continuous testing plays a key role in the continuous delivery pipeline by enabling both high quality and high velocity and ensuring customer happiness. Let’s examine how continuous delivery enables digital transformations by streamlining processes and focusing on value to the customers and how testers can enable and champion this process.

DevOps Principles Aligned with Digital Transformation

Digital transformation can be defined in many ways; however, it is a fundamental shift in the way an organization approaches its business and operational processes by using technology to increase focus on and improve customer experience. Most digital transformations are focused on customer experience, operational processes and business models. DevOps principles described in the Three Ways – systems thinking, amplifying feedback loops and creating a cultural of experimentation and continual learning – can be the basis for creating the major changes that are required for digital transformation.

Systems thinking or focusing on the performance of an entire process is the most effective approach to transforming business models and operational processes. If changes are made to fundamental operations in siloed initiatives, they will likely fail. Amplifying feedback loops is critical to digital transformation so that corrections can be made early and often. And creating a culture of continuous experimentation and learning encourages innovation without fear of consequences if a new business, process or technological approach fails.

Testers Enabling Digital Transformation by Transforming Test Processes

Testers enable digital transformation not only by championing the customer, but also by transforming their test practices. Transformational test practices include implementing the practices of continuous testing, including “shift left”, test optimization, as well as the use of service virtualization and advanced analytics, and “shift right”, i.e., testing in production.

Continuous testing is an approach to managing risk by focusing not only on eliminating testing bottlenecks but more importantly, increasing the effectiveness of our test processes. The test pyramid is a “shift left” pattern whereby most of the automated test cases are concentrated in the unit, API, component and integration layers with fewer automated test cases used to test the GUI layer.

Testers as Champions of the Customer

As testers, meeting the challenges of our role in digital transformation requires a coordinated approach made up of several components. Customers expect a seamless experience across all channels; however, they do not necessarily expect to perform the same actions on every channel. Therefore, a digital transformation test strategy will require using customer behavior analytics to understand customer’s browsing, purchasing and other transactions across channels in order to test efficiently and effectively.

As champions of the customers, we must focus on testing the customer experience. This means we must learn to use customer analytics, personas and customer journeys and combine the results of those with exploratory testing.

Testers and DevOps can be the keys to successful digital transformation through by focusing on technological transformation based on business value and customer happiness. Testers, this is your opportunity to go above and beyond and contribute to your organizations in innovative, customer-centric ways.

Gerie Owen is a Testing Strategist and Evangelist. She is a Certified Scrum Master, Conference Presenter and Author on technology and testing topics. She enjoys mentoring new QA Leads and brings a cohesive team approach to testing. Gerie is the author of many articles on technology including Agile and DevOps topics. She recently developed a curriculum for DevOps 101 training. Gerie chooses her presentation topics based on her experiences in technology, what she has learned from them and what she would like to do to improve them. Gerie can be reached through her website, www.gerieowen.com, her blog, Testing in the Trenches, is at https://testinggirl.wordpress.com/ and @GerieOwen on Twitter and on LinkedIn http://www.linkedin.com/in/gerieowen.


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