In today’s connected world, traditional quality assurance and testing approaches are not going to achieve the necessary results. In order to successfully deliver high-quality and innovative products and services, IT requires agility and rapid innovation of testing and QA because businesses are competing not only at the level of individual products or services they produce, but the customer experience they deliver as well. 

Consider the research conducted by Verint: 

Only 29% of shoppers feel valued; only 25% of shoppers feel that businesses pay attention to their opinions; 42% of shoppers are unhappy but rarely complain… Consumers are sharing their positive and negative experiences online at unprecedented rates—53% of consumers are willing to share comments on social media, blog and websites.

Clearly, businesses can do much better by listening to their customers. Since customers can now choose the channels they use to engage with businesses and brands, businesses must deploy an integrated, omni-channel-friendly application landscape. As a result, a new testing model is required to ensure that an enterprise has the right portfolio of applications at its disposal, and that they are geared to deliver a superior customer experience across various channels.

To do this, IT decision makers must tackle QA and testing with a “user-centric” approach, moving from testing applications to testing customer experiences over multi-channel platforms in distributed locations and networks.
When building an outside-in test strategy, it is essential to focus on personalization, brand experience, omni-channel approach, and contextual awareness as the key business goals. We recommend implementing the following practices in connected QA strategy: 

1. An enterprise-wide QA strategy that focuses on unifying silos across business processes. This top-down approach aligns objectives to the goals that matter and thus increases agility and overall quality. Take an approach that ensures requirements are met by the application that ensures that business goals are adhered to using an end-to-end testing focus. 

2. Business processes are validated by deploying a test-automation approach that brings business, development and QA teams together by leveraging Behavior-Driven Development (BDD). BDD effectively merges the techniques of Test-Driven Development with ideas from domain-driven design and object-oriented analysis and design to provide development and business teams with shared tools and processes to collaborate on software development to deliver what users can use.

3. Use a tool-driven, risk-based testing mechanism driven by analytics to reduce reliance on gut feelings, thus ensuring transparent and repeatable quantification of risk. Testing and risks are closely associated with each other. As testing uncovers more defects, more risks are exposed. Hence, building a robust regression suite is vital, and testers play a key role in it. Testers need to ensure that the highest risks are addressed by testing first and scheduling tests based on the priority of the risk. Tying this with customer experience will ensure optimum test coverage with high defect-removal efficiency.

4. Employ omni-channel-oriented testing across devices and touch-points, and leverage digital centers of excellence with adaptive, demand-based mobile testing labs. Customers now depend on a single view across channels, seamless access across channels, and an organization unified across all channels. A retail customer should be able to make a purchase on a device, buy on a browser running on a laptop or tablet, and share their feedback or review on Facebook and Twitter. This is a very simple case of an omni-channel scenario, but if we add Google Glass, kiosks and smartwatches, the combinations are mind-boggling.

5. Focus on achieving 100% in-sprint regression in agile portfolios by retaining an independent testing approach, yet maintaining high collaboration and trust among teams. A possible solution for agile testing projects is to build a “One-Click Automation Suite” with a “setup-execute-teardown” feature and end-to-end test scenarios that cover 70% to 80% of complete functional flows, while focusing on 100% regression tests. This framework is easy to maintain, captures results systematically, and reduces execution time for regression tests with no manual intervention. Prerequisite data creation is integrated with the functional scripts, hence we do NOT have to depend on the data being present in the database in order to execute the Functional Scripts. 

6. Business portals cater to users from across the globe and are essential to user experience. What users experience in terms of speed and consistency of the portal, in addition to the core application performance in the servers, is very important. You can bridge the gap by providing an automated framework, which tests Web page performance and suggests improvements. This provides a more comprehensive view of an application’s performance by including multiple factors that impact the end-user experience.

Adopting this type of outside-in approach helps IT achieve the following goals:
• 100% business objectives validation
• 100% live performance metrics for online channels
• Up to 95% automation in testing portfolios
• 100% in-sprint regression in agile portfolios

A QA strategy with end users and user experience as the key focus is needed to help businesses and IT succeed. A testing team, in partnership with development and business teams, can build a connected QA strategy to implement quality measures across the complete application life cycle, enabling integration of activities and expertise in a close collaboration. A connected testing approach with a user-centric, outside-in approach increases the business value by delivering predictable quality software, enabling faster time to market, reducing cost, and eliminating business risk.

Shiva Hiremath is general manager at Mindtree, where he is responsible for testing in the U.S. He manages the testing business across industry verticals, and helps define and implement strategic quality assurance transformation solutions for customers.

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