Emerging software testing trends: What’s to come in 2024

Shyam Ramanathan,

Global Delivery Director and Engagement Partner

Published: August 1, 2023

The role of quality assurance role in software development continues to evolve alongside buzzing industry trends. Quality assurance (QA) has experienced a remarkable transition, moving beyond simply performing manual tests. It’s also about managing strategic functions. Because software testing is essential to successful project and product outcomes, QA testing will continue to be a priority for chief information officers (CIOs)s. In this blog post, we’ll be exploring some critical elements of software testing. 

What’s new in software testing

  • Digital transformation: Increased adaption of digital transformation programs, like DevOps, has pushed organizations to reconsider QA from a digitalization perspective. As a result, teams are becoming more cohesive, as cohesiveness enables speed while maximizing efficiency. However, without a robust QA strategy, it’s hard to imagine continuous development and delivery. Hence, DevOps is merging into QA, leading to a new framework called QAOps. QAOps maintain software quality by approaching it with a DevOps mindset.
  • Artificial intelligence: AI is a developing field, and this is especially true when it comes to QA. While many people in the industry are talking about how AI will change testing, very few have seemed to implement it. The main purpose of AI is to leverage automation, namely machine learning, to deliver better results. Incorporating AI will also create new jobs for certain experts, including data scientists and AI quality experts.
    Testers who develop skills both in testing AI-based systems and in utilizing AI-supported testing techniques will be in high demand in the next few decades. The emergence of AI will change the role of the QA engineer within a software development team. As testers establish new roles within their organizations, the industry will have to be creative in its augmentation of AI, without allowing AI to impede creativity.
    Recent industry advancements have precipitated new opportunities regarding the application of AI in testing. AI algorithms are developed to generate better test data, reports, and test cases, predictive models are used to help to make better decisions, and AI-led analytics support teams detect faults in order to better understand areas of high risk and test coverage.
  • Testing Center of Excellence (TCoE): The business world is under pressure to establish a TCoE in response to challenges like shrinking budgets and diversity of testing delivery models. Other factors, like underperforming tests and underutilized resources resulting from disparate test processes across geographies, locations, and teams, further raise the need to establish a TCoE. A TCoE enables a centralized QA function, consistent processes, detailed metrics spanning projects, and consistent delivery to boost customer satisfaction. Building a successful TCoE involves getting sponsor buy-in; evangelizing with project teams; and establishing clear processes, templates, status reports, metrics reporting, and clear end-to-end communication channels. A successful TCoE requires creating a thorough project plan that includes the defined processes, methods, tools, communication, and responsibility assignment matrix (RACI matrix). It ensures that every team member is aware of the project goals and responsibilities. The target operating model should serve as the entry criteria for any new team member and drive the team toward a common objective.
  • Mobile testing: Mobile testing labs need to be set up with different operating systems. Thus, managing various devices and operating systems remains a challenge. With multiple existing mobile devices, mobile testing expertise is essential to the overall success of the QA function. Moreover, mobile testing is an increasingly significant area for all customers. Hence, establishing a mobile testing lab to take ownership of managing devices offers businesses an edge in the current landscape. Some of the tools suitable for mobile testing include Appium, Espresso, XCTest, and Calabash. There are generally three types of mobile apps: native applications, web applications, and hybrid applications. Many organizations are opting for hybrid apps, which can cover a greater number of platforms.
  • Exploratory testing: Simply put, exploratory testing is the answer to the challenge of developing quality solutions without automation. Chartering, one of the key elements of exploratory testing, essentially means setting out a clear mission for the session that will be tested. The tester’s job is to be an investigator ― to ask questions about the user story and define the scope of the mission. The tester should turn off email, social media, and everything else, and simply focus on the session. At the end of the session, the testers should take five minutes to reflect. Working in pairs while performing session-based testing is found to be more effective. Primarily, exploratory testing enables users to apply their creativity to find new bugs that were not found through scriptless testing.
  • Automation testing: There has been a shift from licensed software tools to open-source tools. Companies that are fluent in the use of open-source tools will thrive in the emerging market. However, before undertaking any automation efforts, businesses must prove that the selected tool works successfully in a client environment. By doing so, they will secure customers’ trust in the proposed solution and increase execution speed, reduce cost, enable faster regression cycles, and ultimately produce a high-quality product. For functional testing, some of the most popular tools on the market are Selenium, Playwright, Cypress, and Cucumber. Playwrights have been gaining significant traction in the industry.
  • Continuous integration testing: This testing is done in small increments in a production-like environment with frequent code integration to help detect early problems and enable high-quality and defect-free releases. Other advantages of continuous integration testing include better project results, reduced risks, and functional working software that is available in a timely fashion. Continuous integration testing also results in increased releases in shorter time frames and a regulated continuous integration and continuous delivery/continuous deployment (CI/CD) pipeline. This is also the basis for DevOps, which results in an increased number of releases in shorter time frames, with the CI/CD pipeline regulated, and the ability to do fixes immediately. Continuous integration testing also enables seamless beta testing and user testing.
  • Security testing: With remote and hybrid work here to stay, security testing has become a major concern for all organizations. Additionally, the advent of cloud-based testing has increased security concerns. Security testing is a specialized skill, and having employees and partners who are experts is critical to establishing a well-rounded testing organization. Typical security requirements include confidentiality, integrity, authentication, availability, authorization, and non-repudiation. Because security testing is a specialized skill, it will be in greater demand moving forward, playing a crucial role in our conversations with customers regarding product and process quality.
  • Separation of QA and development: Establishing an independent view of quality is critical from a compliance perspective. It is good to separate development and QA teams to ensure quality is built-in and that there is no bias in the results. However, another trend is emerging ― one in which QA and development teams are integrated through DevOps. We might eventually reach a stage in which both functions come under one umbrella.
  • Early defect detection: Currently, IT organizations are putting a greater portion of their budget toward QA than they did before. To ensure that the budget increase is practical, it is essential for businesses to involve the QA team at the beginning of the software development life cycle. When defects are detected early, businesses save on costs related to fixing them and on general quality-related costs. The key to shifting left is to measure the effectiveness of a change and determine whether it meets end-user expectations. Another useful method is to have QA write unit test cases for development teams to test through test-driven development (TDD).
  • Software Development Engineers in Test (SDETs): Serving as a combination of functional testing and automation testing, SDETs are testers that have the coding capability to help organizations produce future wins. SDETs also help QA teams identify defects earlier and improve white box testing, which is not always done by QA teams. SDETs also increase the quality while enabling cost savings through automation solutions.
  • Test environments: QA teams need to develop skills that can enable them to manage domains independently. Hence, the test environments need to support QA teams, as they test independently of the development teams. Organizations are adopting more test environment strategies, as non-availability or incompatibility of the testing environment will stall a testing project.  It is important to ensure the availability of the right environment and produce appropriate release notes for each deployment. These actions will help to communicate the changes effectively and establish expectations. Unit test results and the report on defects are also critical to a testing team's success.

Winning the future

It is heartening to note that CIOs increasingly feel QA is here to stay. Hence, investing in QA remains vital to increasing both revenue and customer satisfaction. The trends mentioned above lie at the heart of what QA organizations should focus on for 2024. 

Shyam Ramanathan

Global Delivery Director and Engagement Partner

Shyam Ramanathan has been working in the IT world for over 21 years, where he has developed a breadth of knowledge and experience in program management, requirements analysis, requirements review, Use case modelling, project planning, test design, test execution, and establishing global delivery teams across geographies and building Center of Excellence. 

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