In 2010, the world slowly began to recover from a wearying recession, IT budgets showed signs of easing, and companies began reinvesting in upgrading infrastructure and applications. Delivering on software quality once more became a priority. Moving into 2011, companies need to be agile and adapt quickly to address changing market conditions. They must perform with minimal downtime, and provide security and data integrity.

The HP/Capgemini 2010-2011 World Quality Report put emerging software quality challenges under the microscope. It also forecasted new directions in application delivery, such as using agile methodologies and testing cloud-based applications, and it explored the effects that these approaches are having on QA practices and techniques.

The report is a collaborative effort between Capgemini Group and HP Software. The data is taken from a 2010 global survey of 30,000 chief experience officers, IT directors, quality assurance managers, and engineers. According to its introduction, it examines the state of application quality and testing practices, as well as the future of testing across different industries and locations.

Respondents were asked to evaluate the level of investment in application life-cycle management (ALM) solutions in their organizations, rate their return on investment, answer questions about their testing practices, and assess the general levels of application complexity. The focus this year was specifically on the adoption of agile delivery and testing methods, as well as application virtualization.

Charlie Li, a vice president at Capgemini, said, “Many companies have re-evaluated their investment in IT. Many have permanently adopted the policy of ‘Do more for less.’ We see an increase in outsourcing for development, testing and data centers, and an increased demand for pay-per-use or pay-by-the-drink cost models.”

Mobile and Web-based applications are in the spotlight going into 2011, according to Li. “Over the last couple of years, even in the economic downturn, we saw an increase of IT spend in new application areas. Companies continue to spend money on new products and on differentiation,” he said.

“We also see a large increase in spending for mobile applications. Large IT firms like Google and Apple; mobile operators/manufacturers like Nokia, Telefonica and AT&T; and even consumer product companies have all invested in mobile apps for end users as well as for internal productivity.”

Testing in 2011 will be focused in two new areas: cloud-based apps and mobile apps.

“The first area of focus is around testing applications being moved to the cloud or outsourced data centers,” said Li. “There will also be a focus on how to test from the cloud infrastructure to provide fully managed testing services with testing services, tools and infrastructure bundled into a single service.

“The other focus will be around mobile apps certifications. We see mobile operators building larger app stores and looking for partners to help them certify and validate apps that will go into their stores.”

According to Li, new quality assurance criteria will affect the software developer because it will add more structure and rigor for the development teams. “As outsourcing and multi-sourcing increases, we see many projects with different vendors developing and testing applications,” he said.

“This forces more role separation and process rigor; a formalized contract in a way between QA and Dev teams.

“In the past, most testers were either developers or a part of the development team. This led to many dev delays with little consequences since [developers] can simply push the testing time.  In the modern QA world, [developers] and QA are independent groups, and must be fully accountable to each other while collaborating closely to deliver a quality product.”

The next HP/Capgemini report is due out in June.

The report’s key findings
• In 2009, most companies had to reduce their IT spending, but 71% are still investing in new application development projects. IT investments are shifting from a daily, operational focus toward building new applications.

• Half of respondents indicate that resource cuts and heavier project loads have forced their project teams to take on more work.

• Having a defined application life-cycle methodology is no longer viewed as a barrier for agility. More than 70% of organizations admit to following a specific ALM methodology, and 82% of respondents indicate that testing processes are being consistently followed in half or more of their IT projects.

• QA organizations increasingly require well-rounded resource skill sets. A growing number of teams prefer to bring on board testers who also have a good understanding of development practices and methodologies.

• Close to 72% of IT professionals said that testers with development backgrounds perform their tasks better than those without technical expertise.

• More than half of organizations are planning to increase the use of offshore resources in the coming year. The biggest growth is seen in Europe, where quality management outsourcing is outpacing other regions.

• Cost reduction is the No. 1 reason for companies to move their applications to the cloud, followed by increased agility. Many companies are still unclear on how to leverage cloud services for application testing.