A recent Forbes Insights survey confirmed that there is strong C-Suite interest in artificial intelligence, with eighty percent of CEOs and eighty-five percent of IT leaders pointing to AI as a core component of their digital transformation efforts. While the technology is sometimes—and mistakenly—associated with job loss, AI’s true power actually lies in its ability to augment human decision-making.
In early 2017, US grocery chain Winn-Dixie invested $7 million to improve its website but overlooked a critical component: testing to ensure it was accessible to people with disabilities. This mistake garnered national attention when the retailer lost a federal case accusing it of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
The Winn-Dixie lawsuit is considered a landmark case but it’s hardly a unique situation—website compliance suits are on the rise. According to a legal blog tracking these cases, there were at least 2,258 such suits filed in the US alone in 2018—an increase of 177 percent from the prior year.
"The quality of your company’s software has a direct impact on the quality of your company’s financial results. You know it. Management knows it. And the importance of quality will only continue to grow with the need for 24x7 operations, high availability requirements, aggressive service-level agreements, and the need to roll out innovative new web-based services."
This was the first paragraph of a paper I wrote in 2005 about how to build your organization around a Testing Center of Excellence.
15 years on, we are still struggling with these concepts. The focus has turned towards project outcomes rather than business outcomes. Reasons include faster release cycles, more complex technology, and more technically astute end-users, with the result that QA lost sight of who was really using their applications.
Businesses want software that delights end users. Customer experience is the priority. But even as the requirement for ever better experiences grows, actually delivering on that requirement is getting harder.
Whenever you enter the healthcare system, technology is all around.
And you have to trust it.
The highly trained medical staff have all been through rigorous testing to ensure they are able to deliver the best possible care. And you probably expect the same from the huge range of technology they use to treat you, monitor your progress, and update your records.
But as that technology permeates every aspect of healthcare and the pace of change increases, it’s getting harder to ensure that everything works as intended.
You’ve tested the latest release of your application, and it works just fine. From a functional perspective, it does everything it’s supposed to.
But what if the user experience has changed in a way that wasn’t picked up in functional testing?
With the Shift-Up series thus far, we have explored the importance of testing and thinking as a customer. The basic premise is that we need to add another dimension to Quality Assurance other than Shift-Left and Shift-Right. This new dimension focuses on how your customer is actually using your application and if the intersection of your application, customer behavior, and your company’s business objectives all align.
People make mistakes. Human behavior so often falls short of ‘expected standards’, it begs the question why we hold ourselves to such standards at all. Too often, we build systems and processes on the implicit assumption that the people using them will be rational, infallible, and consistent. Of course, the truth is that most of us are anything but.
Our general fallibility is obviously closely tied to AI and test automation. Automated testing is immune to the unintentional biases and lapses in concentration that affect human testers.
The purpose of software testing has been steadily shifting from ‘does it work?’ to ‘does it deliver the required business outcomes?’, with an increasing focus on end-user requirements. It’s no longer enough to rely on metrics such as x% of tests passed. Now we have to understand the impact on the people using the product and the wider implications for the organization. There is a need to bridge that gap between meeting testing objectives and actually meeting customer expectations.
To keep up with DevOps, testing and QA teams typically adopt a shift-up approach to move quality further up the software development lifecycle. The goal is to complete system testing, integration testing, and user acceptance testing (UAT) to ensure a bug-free release. While product quality has a direct correlation to increased revenue and positive business outcomes, this isn’t enough in the 21st-century marketplace. QA’s job isn’t just to de-risk applications by finding defects earlier but to help de-risk business strategy and potential problems with your user base by reporting customer experience defects.