How does a quality organization run? And how does it deliver a quality product for consumers?

According to Roya Montazeri, senior director of test and quality at Cox Automotive, no one tool or approach can solve the quality problem. Cox Automotive portfolios, she said, is a specialized software company that addresses the buying, selling, trading and everything about the car life cycle, with a broad portfolio of products that includes Dealertrack, Kelly Blue Book, AutoTrader, Manheim and more.

“Whatever we create from software automation and software delivery … needs to make sure that all clients are getting the best deal,” Montazeri said. “They can, and our dealers can, trust our software and at the end, the consumers can get the car they want. And this is about digitalization of the entire process.”

When Montazeri joined Cox Automotive, her area – Dealertrack – was mature about testing, with automations in place. But, she said, the focus on automation and the need to strengthen it started from two aspects: the quality of what was being delivered, and the impact of that on trust within the division.  “Basically, when you have an increased defect rate, and when you have more [calls into] customer support, these are indications of a quality problem,” she said. “That was the realization of investment … into more tools or more ability for automation.”

To improve quality, Dealertrack  began to shift testing left, and invested in automating their CI/CD pipeline. “You can’t have a CI/CD pipeline without automation,” she said. “It’s just a broken pipeline.” And to have a fully automated pipeline, she said, training it is critical. 

Another factor that led to the need for automation at Dealertrack was the complexity of how their products work. “Any product these days is not a standalone on its own; there is a lot of integration,” Montazeri said. “So how do you test those integrations? And that led us to look at where most of our problems were.. is it at the component-level testing? Or is it the complexity of the integration testing?” 

That, she said, led to Dealertrack using service virtualization software, from Parasoft, so they could mimic the same interactions and find the problems before they actually moved the software to production and make the integration happen. 

When they first adopted virtualization, Montazeri said they originally thought, “Oh, we can basically figure out how many defects we found. But that wasn’t the right KPI at the time for just virtualization. We needed to mature enough to say, “It’s not just that we found that defect, it’s about exercising the path so we know what’s not even working. So that’s how the investment came about for us.”