The JFTL is the annual conference on Software Testing and Quality, organized by the CFTL, the French representation of the ISTQB. This year, on top of being able to meet with the community, key changes are happening in the ecosystem.
The keynote opening by the CIO of Michelin, Yves Caseau, sends a strong sign on the holistic evolution of the testing and quality practices. The remaining talks also have elements representing this change in the industry.
This article shares the key takeaways of the JFTL 2021 edition through the Quality Engineering prism and MAMOS framework :
- Methods : Testing and quality require to be an integral part of software delivery
- Architecture : Tooling must evolve towards more interoperability and intelligence
- Management : The focus on testing is clearly shifting to value creation
- Organization : Quality still need to prove its value to gain influence and power
- Skills : Testers have more options, more power but more responsibilities
The best way to start was by not feeling in a testing and quality silo. The opening keynote was a great choice.
Testing and Quality require to be an integral part of software delivery
Yves Caseau opened the event with his keynote “Lean and Testing in the Digital Transformation”. His perspective and messages clearly articulated the stakes, challenges and imperatives of digital transformation. The overall implication for organizations is to address quality and testing as a set of practices combined with the two main streams of company iterations: Design Thinking and Software Factory.
Testing and Quality must be present by design, implemented and continuously improved to deliver valuable software. A concrete example was the need for Continuous Testing embedded into the DevOps cycle of a Lean Software Factory. Similarly, Continuous Testing applies to the flow of Design Thinking, a term known as DesignOps we will cover in an upcoming interview. More content on Lean and Organizational architecture can be found on Yves Caseau’s blog.
The talk “Zero-bug policy” by Simone Colosimo from Dashlane was a great sharing of experience in a real-world context. This methodology illustrates how quality can be an integral part of software delivery and not an option. Its implementation requires an end-to-end alignment in the company to, for instance, prioritize a bug fix instead of the next customer feature. This is an excellent example of applying Quality Engineering by constraining the software delivery to Quality.
The event also had an emphasis on the essential supporting element of technology.
Tooling must evolve towards more interoperability and intelligence
Products and tools while interesting for engineers can be dangerous in their tendency to lose sight of the user, objectives and processes. A conference on Testing and Quality had various players present. Still, the most interesting aspect was to reflect on their future regarding the talks on intelligence, collaboration and scalability.
An interesting workshop was held by Smartesting adding a different feedback loop to test management. We are familiar with the traditional sequence of needs expression, specifications, implementation, testing and operations in the software industry. The hypothesis is to increase the quality of the product by starting on the operations, matching the real user experience with our testing practices. Concretely, Gravity is a product that allows us to discover customer journeys relying on logs and clustering algorithms connecting with Dynatrace for instance. In a second step, Gravity aims to integrate with a test management tool to let the professional decide if the journey should be covered or not by a test, enriching its referential.
Interestingly, this solution is a great example of the Technology imperative in Quality Engineering: intelligence, integration and automation. The intelligence part lets the actors focus on more important activities than trying to parse and format logs. By providing integration to observability tooling and test management, Gravity demonstrates the added value of being a real platform with native connectors. In the end, it is a good illustration of the need for faster end-to-end feedback loops to continuously improve quality.
The talks of MyCanal and Axa also supported the need for the solutions to meet the stated requirements; teams must focus on their business priorities first.
The focus on testing is clearly shifting to value creation
“Legos to unify them all” was the talk of Marc Soune-Seyne from Welcome To The Jungle. It clearly states the need to align the various actors of software delivery towards a common value creation. Not only the testers must be directed for more transversality; a quality leader must involve the overall set of stakeholders.
The management job in Quality Engineering is to effectively constrain the overall system to value delivery and quality requirements. The zero-bug policy practice is also useful as a concrete practice of Quality Engineering to structurally constrain the software delivery lifecycle. Two resulting key KPIs support the approach: the decrease of the Work In Progress (WIP, Backlog) by a factor of 4, plus the reduction in waiting time, the second most costly waste in organizations.
The management’s responsibility is to develop, coach, and grow the team to focus on user value creation in complex ecosystems. The talk of Jean-François Fresi reinforced this trend by identifying the key evolution for testers in an accelerated context. Nicolas Marchand from CDiscount illustrated the importance of leading quality in the scaling ecosystem with “Automation framework in a scaling ecosystem”. New ways of animating teams are becoming part of the management toolbox. Various talks covered the usefulness of gamification techniques for team members as well as stakeholders.
These various themes converged on the essential one of organizational power.
Quality still need to prove its value to gain influence and power
These evolutions are promising for testing and quality. But the bottom line in companies is about decision-making, influence and power. Interestingly. Different talks identify the expansion of quality out of the QA silo, and the natural inclusion of quality on the software lifecycle.
Two talks demonstrate the need for proactive and transversal action of quality. “Testing beyond your project” from Emna Ayadi is the first example of behavior to extend the perspective and contribution of quality in projects. From an organizational perspective, Marc Hage Chanine’s talk on “All about indicators that you are a hero” exemplifies the need for impactful contextual quality metrics outside of a QA or technical silo.
The evolution of the software industry raises questions for the role of tester and quality roles. The maturity of the DevOps movement is one of them, shared in the workshop “DevOps & Digital Transformation – Which place for testers?” by JM. Teissier. The fundamental elements of influence and power of organizations was the theme of Olivier Denoo workshop, “Test – Influence & power games”.
Power is an essential aspect of organizations, driven by the most skilled actors. Hence the importance of skills.
Testers have more options, more power but more responsibilities
The evolution of broader testing and quality practices expands the scope and possibilities for QA actors. At the same time, they have more power and can bring more value; they also have more responsibilities. The degree of exigence, knowledge and skills is therefore increasing to meet the high standard.
The current ISTQB certifications and job descriptions is one example of the diversity of skills required for testing and quality. Paths focus more on management, technical expertise or processes aspects. The roles will surely evolve to reflect the ecosystem changes. And that’s one part of the comprehensive set of skills required to act on the big picture. The various talks on DevOps, Performance Testing, API Test in different business contexts demonstrates this need for a global understanding.
I believe that Yves Caseau was a great example of the necessary skills and emulation for software actors. He demonstrated his curiosity, openness to the exterior and capability to remain in contact with reality. He is an avid reader of books while being the author of two. He held various positions of CIO able to talk of large business stakes but also of concrete code implications. He took actions to reconcile open spaces with the customer’s voice, creating bottom lines results.
The continuous delivery of value is a complex art to master. Let’s keep developing Quality Engineering.
Keep pushing, we are evolving towards Quality Engineering
This edition of JFTL was a good opportunity to step back on the evolution of testing and quality practices. The most promising takeaway is the better inclusion of quality within the other practices. Now it is our job to make it a reality in our organizations.
The level of exigence is increasing to remain valuable in the ecosystem. At the same time, we have an increased pressure in our organization and software delivery capability expected by our users.
We have to evolve the entire value chain while composing with the right methodologies, expertise and technology. The mastery of Methods, Architecture, Management, Organization and Skills are essential.
It encourages the development of Quality Engineering as the most valuable paradigm to continuously deliver value to our users. It could be the next opening keynote of a testing, DevOps and business conference as a result of our joint effort.
Keep pushing for Quality Engineering.