Agile and DevOps for Continuous Quality and Software Delivery
April 14, 2022

Nick Mears
Micro Focus

During these two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen the acceleration of digital transformation along with the continued adoption of Agile and DevOps practices among distributed virtual teams. Effective Quality Assurance (QA) and testing have become table stakes for organizations navigating various stages of IT modernization and cloud migration. With CIOs increasingly focusing on delivering value through testing versus simply finding defects, leveraging Agile and DevOps strategies can transform quality processes to optimize the customer experience.

Prioritize Quality with Agile and DevOps

The appetite for innovation is growing, and the adoption of Agile and DevOps methodologies with a focus on quality is key to improving efficiencies across the application lifecycle — especially for enterprises with large development teams. Companies often adopt Agile and DevOps practices to speed software production and delivery, but quality must also be at the core, not just velocity. DevOps pipeline management can be complex, and root-cause analysis can be time-consuming due to this complexity.

Measuring achievements becomes challenging as a result, leaving organizations unable to quantify and track quality metrics. Therefore, when an organization adopts Agile and DevOps practices, failing to take quality into account can actually slow velocity and generate technical debt. Furthermore, research shows that IT decision-makers rated productivity and quality higher than speed of delivery when it came to DevOps and Agile implementations for testing.

Integrate with DevOps Management

Agile and DevOps processes can be further augmented through continuous integration-driven (CI) tests at scale and by embedding quality in release management processes — especially with recent advancements in AI for testing and analytics. This can be accomplished in many ways, several of which include: measuring and eliminating waste; embedding testers into Agile teams for increased collaboration and Agile testing; ensuring traceability from user stories to requirements or builds, source code, etc.; and by providing a centralized hub to include an integrated backlog, defect and DevOps pipeline management — all of which leverage AI-infused capabilities. IT teams can also reduce integration costs and achieve positive value flow by managing DevOps tools with a delivery pipeline that connects to continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) systems, as well as integrated development environments (IDE).

Continuous Integration and Delivery

Real-time insights across the organization, application lifecycle and test functions help with both short-term tactical issues and long-term planning for strategic direction. Having transparency and visibility into CI and CD pipelines can enable IT teams to view changes as needed, identify the root cause of failures quickly and track commits associated with specific user stories and defects. Overall, commonly realized benefits of ensuring visibility in DevOps pipelines are: catching defects earlier; providing business-level visibility into CI/CD; providing for faster release cycles; reducing mean time to resolution (MTTR); speeding up time to market; and increasing ROI.

For example, mutual financial institution Nationwide Building Society (NBS) turned to Agile and DevOps methodologies to optimize application development and deliver more reliable services for members. With automated testing baked into CI/CD processes, NBS was able to perform testing much earlier in the development lifecycle than it had previously done prior to integrating Agile and DevOps.

In addition to Agile and DevOps, organizations continue the trend of cloud adoption — but only after ensuring integration with legacy applications — as well as intelligent test automation and AI to speed testing. While some innovations in QA and testing are further along than others in terms of adoption, implementation, and trust, it is clear that the status quo is no longer sufficient for software development. The need to quickly deliver features and end-user value is paramount, and Agile and DevOps strategies can streamline processes for faster delivery and improved customer satisfaction.

Nick Mears is Product Marketing Manager, Application Delivery Management, at Micro Focus
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