Report: If you’re not automating tests, you’re falling behind

There’s a lot to chew on in the latest World Quality Report, especially for C-level executives looking to continuously improve and introduce new products to the market while maintaining a high quality and customer satisfaction.

The 2015-16 report is the seventh set of findings, based on more than 1,500 interviews of senior executives in corporate IT jobs around the world.  And it’s 80 pages in all, including lots of charts and graphs.

But I’ll save you some time and boil it all down to this: If your organization still hasn’t jumped on the test-centered development bandwagon, you’re behind and getting left more in the dust with every passing day. Secondly, if you’re not automating some of that testing, you’re spending too much.

Simply put, the quickening pace of digital transformation has placed a huge burden on QA and testing — in development and in ensuring security — across business sectors, and those that automate are finding the benefits of cost-savings, speedier cycle time and fewer defects upon release.

The report’s bottom-line recommendations:

1. Refocus QA and testing on customer experience and business assurance

2. QA and testing activity needs to be performed in all areas and by all roles, with “maximum use of automated solutions.”

3. Make continuous and automated security testing a key strategy.

4. Prioritize testing using predictive analytics and continuous feedback.

5. Keep investing in automation as you moved toward continuous test automation.

6. Continue building virtualization and cloud-testing platform capabilities to align with the move toward DevOps.

7. Expand the skills of testing teams beyond manual and test automation. Read: DevOps and the need for all staff to be cross-functioning.

The advent of test automation

The report notes a significant shift toward automation from 2014 to 2015. In just 12 months, the report found a 17-percent jump (from 28 percent to 45 percent) in the number of test cases being automated. (Compare that with previous surveys we’ve reported on.)

“Despite this jump, however, it should be pointed out that the continued reliance on manual testing is still perceived as the top technical challenge for application development by the most numbers of respondents across all sectors (39%),” the report’s authors wrote.

In financial services, an area that is perhaps most risk-averse,  the use of automation was highest. The sector automates some 47 percent of test cases, according to the report, followed by the telecom, energy and high-tech sectors, all at 46 percent.

Those moving toward automation (a term that includes everything from management of requirements to test-case generation and service virtualization) listed many tangible benefits. They included:

  • Better detection of defects (72%)
  • Better control and transparency of test activities (70%)
  • Reduction of test cycle time (69%)
  • Reduction of test costs (67%)
  • Better reuse of test cases (66%)

The burden of rising costs

However, the report’s authors also say QA and testing budgets are growing quickly — 9 percent, year-over-year, to 35 percent of all IT budget. “Budgets are seemingly spiraling out of control,” they wrote.

They chalk the increase up to the budding awareness of the value of QA and testing and the continued reliance on expensive manual processes.

“This reliance on manual testing … is cited as the No. 1 technical challenge by 39 percent of the respondents,” they wrote. “The heightened level of spending also suggests that QA and Testing operations are not being managed as efficiently as they could be, and is a clear indicator that solutions must be found, such as more automation.”