Understanding Test Management's Role in DevOps

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Under agile operations, DevOps has flourished as a major benefit to numerous organizations. Because DevOps opens lines of collaboration for business, development, operations and quality assurance departments, this method is effective in delivering new and enhanced capabilities to customers. DevOps lives up to the lean, responsive values that are inherent in agile projects, and teams must do their best to ensure that they are provisioning appropriately to take on any challenges.

DevOps has been shown to greatly benefit from the use of test management. However, some may wonder how exactly this process fits into the overall DevOps environment. As software development becomes more complicated, DevOps members are going to rely more on each other's skill sets to solve problems and test management will play a big part in ensuring that users are getting the quality product that they expect.

Builds upon DevOps strengths
There are a number of things that DevOps teams tend to do well, such as monitoring quality and enabling frequent deployments. However, they cannot do these tasks without the right tools at hand. Test management not only enables DevOps to meet these expectations, but empowers them to rise above them for the best results. IBM noted that test management helps DevOps facilitate continuous integration and delivery through leveraging data. Test cases and test data can be easily associated, sensitive information remains secure and any results are analyzed. These insights will be critical to helping DevOps teams progress and continuously meet user needs.

"While functional testing confirms the behavior of the application, test data management enables organizations to assess changes in test data for success or failure," IBM stated. "Analyzing test data results by comparing pre-test data against post-test data helps to assess whether the test passed or failed. This best practice addresses any hidden errors allowing organizations to quickly identify and resolve defects for continuous integration and delivery."

Testing maturity is essential
In order to DevOps to be successful, the team must have skilled individuals on hand that actively improve operations. DevOps.com contributor Marc Hornbeek noted that although many organizations can facilitate automation integration, it's still possible for them to have problems with test orchestration within these environments. However, test management tools can be a significant benefit in these situations. Testing teams can offer their expertise and leverage these systems to work with DevOps. This will help ensure that code changes work well and that the project lives up to demands.

Supports agile workflows
DevOps is a property of agile values, meaning that any type of solutions being used in these environments must help support these practices. Test management does just that with collaborative features, real-time notifications and other essential features. According to Capgemini's "World Quality Report 2015-16", 29 percent of organizations still struggle with agile testing, a marked decrease from the 61 percent who experienced the same problem a year ago. The main challenges they see come from testing of end-to-end workflows, testing integration of services across platforms and keeping consistency across different channel interfaces. DevOps paired with test management can help solve these issues and ensure that users are getting a positive experience by leveraging mobile, cloud and front office solutions to help deliver seamless interactivity.

Strategic for faster delivery
Traditionally, testing has been pushed to the end of the software development lifecycle, which leaves little room for organizations to make critical changes and ensure that everything is working appropriately. Datical noted that legacy means of software development often mean that defects are going to show up later, typically forcing organizations to pay a lot to fix them and ultimately slowing down operations. DevOps must aim to involve QA and test management throughout the entire process, making them a facilitator of quality and ensuring that products match up to quality standards set by stakeholders and users alike.

"QA is actually considered a very critical component in DevOps, so much so that DevOps emphasizes that QA is everyone's responsibility," Datical stated. "But this doesn't mean that QA professionals no longer have a role in a DevOps environment – instead what it implies is that with everyone else in the organization taking more responsibility for quality and stability, QA can and should move into a more strategic role, providing oversight over the QA function, as well as building out a more robust testing infrastructure."

Consistent testing leads to better quality
As explored, test management enables DevOps teams to better collaborate for faster delivery and agile support, but these benefits also inherently lead to improved quality across projects. Dr. Dobb's  contributor Scott Ambler noted that automation in particular helps teams test early and often. This enables DevOps to catch defects and mitigate them as soon as possible. The quick responsiveness of this approach not only promotes higher quality, but it also can decrease potential costs and overall time required for production.

"Because agile teams commonly run their automated test suites many times a day, and because they fix any problems they find right away, they enjoy higher levels of quality than teams that don't," Ambler wrote. "This is good news for operations staff that insists a solution must be of sufficient quality before approving its release into production."

DevOps teams are constantly under pressure to live up to stringent demands from stakeholders and users alike. However, if you buy test management tool it can indeed help members easily collaborate across projects, build on overall strengths and quicken their time to market. These types of benefits are worth looking into to ensure that DevOps has the resources needed to yield the types of advantages that they expect.

Learn more on how the manufacturing industry is using agile-automation obsessed DevOps culture by attending the upcoming Atlassian session–Tractors and DevOps: Harvesting the Fruits of Automation

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