Twenty years ago, the world of quality management in software engineering was very different to today. At this point in time, the clear definition of agile was still being formed, and many teams were used to a rigid approach to software engineering where ‘testing’ was a specifically defined step in the process.
However, even earlier than 2002, companies were increasing their reliance on software, which naturally meant they needed to speed up their rate of software delivery. Agile could easily be viewed as a silver bullet solution but missing the importance of effective quality management within an agile model can easily lead to disaster.
Quality Management: evolving, yet eternal
Over the following two decades the need for speed has only intensified as technology has improved and market competition has intensified. Increasingly, a company’s differentiator is its technology – look at the evolution of SaaS or the rise of ecommerce for evidence. As technology has become an enabler for business success, it’s quickly become apparent that quality often not only beats cost in terms of selling points, but also has a very direct impact upon overall cost. A poorly tested system has the potential to cost a business greatly, even if it was cheaply built. Therefore, the evolution of software quality management has also been accelerated and very eventful over the years.
Today, companies are becoming aware that quality management can only be considered an essential part of business strategy. Ideally, this is at a business level, with quality as a culture embedded across the whole company. In the technology function, quality management playing a cross-functional role that is responsible for ensuring the whole team upholds software quality is the ideal approach. Reaching this level of quality management isn’t without its challenges on levels of people, process, and technology.
From manual to automation to SDET – How quality has always been a foundation at Godel
The first manual QA engineer joined Godel in 2006. This individual joined to form part of one of the first Godel Pods – a dedicated software engineering team. Over the years Godel grew, and a natural part of this growth was the adjacent growth of our quality management team.
Over the next decade, companies in many industries transitioned to full reliance on software systems, where essential services became powered by technology instead of manual processes. Naturally, as the complexity and breadth of these systems increased, so did the need to invest in robust quality management processes.
It quickly became clear that demand was rocketing for test automation. Rapidly evolving companies and clients of Godel among them were vying to reduce their lead times and decrease their SDLC. Test automation tools were quickly maturing as a result of this demand, and Godel began to scale its own dedicated test automation team in tandem. By 2015, 22% of Godel was made up of quality management staff, a balance which remains the same today.
As clients matured their technology processes, they began to request Godel quality management engineers that were “T-shaped” – people who had skills in both manual and automated testing. To meet this new demand Godel looked internally and saw that bringing the manual and automation divisions together was the answer. As a result, we have now Quality Management division with two streams: QA (manual) and SDET (automation). By doing so, Godel’s QM engineers can transfer best practices in a shared environment and upskill the collective team.
We also acknowledged that we do more rather than Automation QA. Our engineers are working closely with the whole team to shape product quality and not only define the proper test types, levels and areas of responsibilities, but also build, extend and maintain Test Automation frameworks, build and configure CI-CD pipelines having the aim to optimize delivery in general. The natural outcome of this recognition was renaming the automation engineer role to SDET – software development engineer in test.
The future of quality management
The QM division is always learning, not only from each other, but from everyone at Godel. By exchanging expertise and inheriting specific skills from each other, the division is more powerful than it has ever been.
Now each of us is an active agile delivery team player, problem solver with good root cause analysis skills, the professional who challenge accepted standards and the way of work, ask questions to improve efficiency and quality, contribute to the evolving team’s culture of transparency, experience, learning, innovation and enthusiasm and the one who isn’t afraid to admit failure and learn from it.
As a division we cultivate responsibility for delivering high quality products not by QM engineers only, but as a team.