About the reviewer : #ZinnovDigital is Zinnov’s Digital Transformation Practice which advises on areas such as Digital Sourcing Advisory, Digital Lab Setup and Peer Benchmarking among others.
Testing has always been an integral part of product/software development processes. The growing adoption of digital technologies by enterprises has however resulted in a need for new age testing solutions and capabilities. Also, given the scale of digital initiatives, there is also a need to normalize the cost of testing services so that the enterprise can adhere to their project budgets while focusing on their R&D spend. To learn more about Quality Assurance in the digital paradigm and to learn about Infogain’s test automation platform — ITAS, we sat down with Robb La Velle — Vice President and Global Practice Leader, Business Assurance Services, and Vikas Mittal — Head, Testing Expert Centres and Solution Delivery, at Infogain. Here is the gist of the conversation:
Zinnov: How has QA evolved over the last few years as enterprises have started traversing on digital journeys?
Robb: The evolution of the role of IT, generally, and QA, specifically, in business, has placed a great deal of pressure on organizations to deliver quality solutions in ever more complex environments. These complexities include the need to maintain and manage extended QA environments, the requirement to develop more layered automation capabilities, the requirement to identify and attract new skills and, at the same time, the need for greater speed and agility throughout the development lifecycle. Infogain has embraced these challenges and is charging ahead on several fronts. These include the extension of our ITAS automation framework to support test data, release management and mobility domains, the strengthening of our data validation capabilities to support data analytics and the collaboration with our UX practice to develop business assurance solutions for application user experience.
Zinnov: Automation is often spoken about in the context of testing. What are your thoughts on this, especially the relevance of RPA?
Robb: Automation is the most complex and cost intensive weapon in the business assurance arsenal and the difficulties organizations face in capitalizing on the capability leads many to revert to manual methods. Extending automation beyond just ‘testing’ exacerbates these complexities. However, when used with the right framework, the right strategy and the right people, automation can have the single most profound impact on the economics of business assurance. That is to say it can lead to the lowest cost of quality by maximizing each dollar spent on getting quality solutions to the business. Therefore, organizations striving to maximize the economics of their QA programs must be successful in applying automation not only to reactive ‘testing’ functions, but proactive upstream solution quality initiatives as well. These include BDD/TDD, test case design automation, DevOps automation, service virtualization and other advanced approaches.
Zinnov: Tell us about Infogain’s Testing capabilities: What is your strategy to stay relevant in the ever-evolving testing landscape?
Robb: Infogain’s testing services start with the assertion that we are not about testing. Our mission is to assure our clients’ ability to deliver solutions that meet the requirements of their business. Our Business Assurance practice works with our clients to take a holistic view across the development lifecycle and explore ways to design and build quality proactively rather than simply finding defects once code is made available to a testing organization — an approach typically used by our competition. To support our business assurance approach to quality, our solution set includes BDD and TDD capabilities, DevOps automation and an incredibly talented group of quality engineers dedicated to agile development programs. In addition to our portfolio of IP, solutions and assets, our delivery approach diverges heavily from legacy time & materials engagements. We call this delivery approach Quality as a Service (QaaS), an output and outcome-based delivery model that targets three business objectives:
1) It provides transparency in the work being done by charging clients for delivered outputs rather than hours burned.
2) It provides flexibility by delivering services in an on-demand mode rather than a core/flex mode
3) It provides accountability for continuous innovation through ‘auto-efficiency’ pricing.
This means that the price the client pays for a unit of output, say the execution of an automated test case, automatically decreases in successive periods, effectively placing the onus of efficiency on Infogain.
Zinnov: What is the core value proposition of the ITAS framework? Who do you compete against and what is your differentiation?
Vikas: The main reason the enterprise economy are either adopting ITAS or are showing interest in it is because of its proven ability to increase test coverage from 30% to well over 90% while assuring nearly 60% cost reduction. ITAS has been successful in enabling business analysts and functional test engineers to contribute to test automation without writing any code, ensuring coverage of more scenarios in test automation than otherwise generally possible. We have successfully leveraged ITAS for web applications, web services and mobile application test automation for our customers.
Furthermore, ITAS Test Manager — the cloud hosted component of ITAS — has proven to be quite beneficial for our customers. The distributed teams have successfully leveraged each other’s work through it, whereas the managers have accurately monitored progress made by their individual teams with the executive’s getting a complete view of all the applications in their portfolio.
Zinnov: What are the enabling technologies of ITAS?
Vikas: Infogain has used best-of-the-breed tools to create its Unification Platform with Selenium, Appium, Cucumber, RestAssured, Axis 2, Jmeter, Galen and Java Hibernate being some of the tools integrated in it. Every automation tool has been integrated using ITAS Core API ensuring that the developers or test engineers have a common function or API list to utilize irrespective of application they are automating.
This approach has benefited us in terms of reusability of test case automation scripts for Web and Mobile interface of an application where business logic was implemented as micro-service which resulted in 40% savings in effort and timelines.
Zinnov: How do you monetize ITAS?
Robb: Our ITAS automation framework can deliver automation services in a traditional time and materials or fixed bid mode, we offer their delivery in a QaaS mode charging by unit of output and license the ITAS intellectual property for clients who want to internalize a proven framework, rather than spending the better part of a year developing one themselves.
Zinnov: Talk about a few case examples of ITAS deployment and resulting benefits the clients could derive
For a leading network storage and data management solutions company based in the US, we engaged to help the client create significant efficiencies and accelerated delivery with our ITAS Test Automation Framework. Their regression suite was automated in less than four months creating the capability ability to simultaneous test solutions on all utilized web browsers. In addition, we used IITAS SOA Web Services testing capabilities to automate end-to-end flows across multiple third party applications. The business benefits for the client were many including reducing the execution time for a full regression from 400+ hours on 1 browser to less than 10 hours on multiple browsers. This led to easier failure analysis of releases and ultimately higher quality releases with lower total cost.
Zinnov: What is the future roadmap for development of ITAS?
Vikas: Based on our discussion with our customers and the way the industry is moving forward we see a need for “Unification Platforms” like ITAS which enable high level of reusability of test automation effort. In our roadmap for ITAS we are building integration which will allow us to utilize functional scripts created in ITAS to be leveraged for UI/UX and Performance testing. Along with that, microservices test cases developed for a project can be utilized for functional testing for both Web and Mobile platforms. Test Data Management and offering ITAS in a SaaS based platform are other enhancements on which we are currently working which aligns with the needs of our customers.
We are also working on building an orchestration solution for DevOps by combining tools for every stage in DevOPS with ITAS being utilized for continuous validation. Along with a centralized dashboard on ITAS Test Manager which combines reports from various tools like JIRA, Rally, Microsoft TFS, HP ALM, Jenkins and other systems to give one consolidated view of the health of an application in a current sprint release.
Zinnov: What are the best practices that enterprises need to consider while investing into a testing strategy?
Robb: The most important thing for businesses to consider when developing a testing strategy is that ‘testing’ is a value destroying proposition. One only needs to create a parallel between current software development practices and how cars have been manufactured for the last four decades to understand this. A strategy that continues to focus on finding and remediating issues that originated in upstream activities rather than on creating solid quality practices from the inception of an IT project will perpetuate value destruction. Only when IT leaders begin to solve for the minimization of cost of quality with rework costs as the primary quantitative driver will business truly begin to disrupt the legacy testing mindset.