Software Quality: A seat at the table

Software Testing and Quality Management is rapidly growing in importance in a digitized world. However, many IT leaders still view testing as they did at the outset of their own careers: a needed nuisance performed by second-rate IT professionals. Dear Mr CIO, your organization’s Software Quality capability needs a seat at your table, and your exec team needs to listen to them.

The growing need to release high-quality products and services ahead of our competitors has firmly established Software Testing and Quality Management as a very viable career. Many organizations are scrambling to attract experienced technical software test professionals who can operate in a world turned on its head by the rise of DevOps and the digital economy.

In many organizations, the testing teams were those sorry souls who were left hanging at the end of the Software Development Lifecycle. The norm is that there was usually not much time or budget left for the testers to perform their critical roles as gatekeepers of production quality. Little thought was given to invest in their careers and to upskill them in preparation for a rapidly changing world.

The testing teams were also mostly shifted down the organizational decision-making structure. It was often a reluctant executive who agreed to have the testers report into his or her area. Too often these execs are not familiar with the critical role the testers play, and they are not adequately represented in meetings with the CIO’s management team.

So how is the world of testing and quality management changing? We have entered a “quality first” era where test automation has become the norm. Manual testing is a relic from the past. We need to manage the quality in a world where our customers interact with us on their mobile phones and embrace the Internet of Things.

The market leading testing tools of the past have their hands full with the emergence of lower cost, better suited, open source solutions. Performance engineering is casting its shadow over mere performance testing. Big data and the need to speed is causing the sand to shift right from under our feet.

I see a future – right around the corner – where there is a seat at the CIO’s table for the software quality team. A future where the voice of the quality engineers no longer gets drowned out by the many layers of bureaucracy. I can see an emergence of the role of the Chief Software Quality Officer, even on main board level alongside the CIO.

Johan Steyn

Johan Steyn is a technologist and management consultant. Over the last two decades he was involved in the fields of computer hardware distribution, software development and mobile phone technology. He held senior roles in global consulting firms. He is an Artificial Intelligence enthusiast and speaks globally at conferences on the Fourth Industrial Revolution and Emerging Technologies. He is a published author who regularly contributes articles on thought-leadership to well-known publications. He is the Chair of the Special Interest Group on Artificial Intelligence and Robotics with the IITPSA (Institute of Information Technology Professionals of South Africa).

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