Prepping QA teams for continuous delivery

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Continuous delivery has become popular in agile development circles, but QA teams must be given the means to succeed from the start.

User adoption can make or break a new piece of technology - if people are leveraging it, the asset will likely evolve to continue meeting needs. If software or a trend is abandoned, however, it can waste the valuable resources that were put into the effort in the first place. One thing that will help employees open up more to emerging ideas is providing them with training. Preparing them with the agile test management solutions and knowledge they require will make them more likely to accept the initiative and leverage the technology effectively. Continuous delivery, for example, has become popular in agile development circles, but QA teams must be given the means to succeed from the start.

Automation is key
In many agile environments, automation practices are becoming increasingly necessary to support users. Automated testing for QA teams will be essential for DevOps continuous delivery, as it allows project members to quickly build, package, test and deploy the software for a faster time to market, DZone contributor Benjamin Wootton wrote. This process limits human intervention, which means that bugs will be identified more rapidly and there will be less potential errors overall.

QA teams can leverage automation for testing in a continuous delivery environment. There are often numerous tests that a build will go through to pinpoint issues, but many of these tests may have the same coding across cases. Because this is the case, most QA employees will not want to create a completely new test to just put in the same code. Automation allows them to run the test cases without duplicate manual effort and saves them the time required to manually evaluate software.

"Automated tests are your primary line of defense in your aim to release high quality software more frequently," Wootton wrote. "Investing in these tests can be expensive up front, but this battery of automated tests will continue to pay dividends across the lifetime of the application."

Create a deployment pipeline
Continuous delivery and agile operations often require a mindshift in responsibilities and job roles, which means that employees may not understand what procedures to follow under the new system. Training quality assurance teams for their adjusted functions will be essential to ensuring that business continues without interruption. InfoQ noted that there will likely be many pipelines to manage, but a large set of workloads is easier to handle if they are all based on a standard template.

"How many templates you should start with depends on the variation across your service portfolio; one per technology stack is often a useful starting point," InfoQ stated. "Over time, you will hopefully eventually be able to consolidate toward just a handful of pipeline types."

This blueprint should detail stages that software moves to, from source control to production, as well as the criteria for migrating between these phases. The plan also needs to state what parts will be automated and which areas have manual steps. Once the details have been established, then it comes time to put it into practice. This may take some time, but starting with automation and implementing release criteria will be a few good first steps.

"Standardized pipelines also allow for more meaningful comparative reporting as well as enabling lessons learned in one pipeline to be applied to many others – improvement through feedback being a key component of continuous delivery," InfoQ stated.

Continuous delivery is becoming a main part of the development process, and QA teams must be prepared for this trend. With the ability to integrate test automation and a redefined pipeline, QA teams will be able to identify their new role in the agile environment and effectively leverage continuous delivery practices.

Related Articles:

  • What is continuous delivery?
  • Making the business case for implementing continuous delivery
  • Best practices for successful continuous delivery