Differentiating DevOps Leaders from Laggards
August 02, 2018

Anand Akela
Tricentis

Results from new Forrester Consulting research reveal the 20 most important Agile and DevOps quality metrics that separate DevOps/Agile experts from their less advanced peers. The study was commissioned by Tricentis and led by Forrester VP and Principal Analyst Diego Lo Giudice.

The research examined 94 quality metrics that were classified into four categories. As a high-level summary, the research uncovered the following:

■ Understanding of business risk is the most important determining factor of DevOps and Agile maturity.

■ Experts focus primarily on contextual metrics (e.g., requirements coverage) while others focus on “counting” metrics (e.g., number of tests).

■ Experts are more likely to measure the user experience across an end-to-end transaction while others rely on application-specific or team-specific metrics.

Agile/DevOps Leaders vs Laggards

The study also found that companies with the most successful Agile and DevOps initiatives do a number of things differently:

■ They are transforming software testing into Continuous Testing by adopting five core practices, such as automating end-to-end functional testing and integrating testers into cross-functional teams.

■ They are almost twice as likely to consider automating the software quality process to be a “critical business differentiator” (53% vs. 27%).

■ They are significantly more likely (by 23 percentage points) to have high levels of automation for key testing and QA processes (test case design, functional test automation, test data management, etc.).

“Organizations adopt DevOps to accelerate the delivery of innovative software that creates positive user experiences,” explained Clark Golestani, Managing Director of C Sensei Group and former President, Emerging Businesses and Global CIO of Merck. “If you start accelerating delivery without also rethinking your approach to quality, you will end up rapidly delivering updates that drive your customers to competitors. Automated, continuous testing is the gate that allows you to protect your organization from significant risk as you innovate at the speed modern business demands.”

The Risk “Blind Spot”

Risk is a prevalent thread throughout the various parts of the report. Most firms (80%) believe they deliver within acceptable business risk, but fewer than a quarter state that their QA and testing processes completely cover business risk. Moreover, just 15% of respondents say that their test suites reliably provide a good indication of business risk.

Interestingly, although risk-related metrics do not rank high in overall popularity, Agile and DevOps experts measure them significantly more frequently than the non-experts do. In fact, Agile and DevOps experts consistently rank risk-related metrics among their top 3 most valuable metrics in different phases and categories.

Other notable findings include:

■ Only 26% of firms with active Agile/DevOps adoptions are currently practicing the five core Continuous Testing practices shown to separate Agile/DevOps leaders from laggards.

■ Many CXOs and high-level decision makers are vastly overestimating the maturity of their firms’ Agile and DevOps practices.

■ Firms that rely on manual testing are more than twice as likely to report that testing is a bottleneck (59%), compared to those with more automated quality processes (26%).

Anand Akela is VP of Product Marketing at Tricentis