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Continuous testing

QA leaders’ priorities and advice for 2021

‘Tis the season for refining 2021 plans (a.k.a “how to tackle the challenges you expect to face in a predictably unpredictable year”).

As you finalize your planning, we thought you might want to hear about what your peers are doing. Since we were fortunate enough to chat with some of the industry’s top QA leaders recently, we asked them about their priorities and advice for 2021. Here’s what they shared…

Tammie Davis, Director Global Quality Engineering, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG)

“Over the past year, the travel landscape has changed dramatically. We’re finalizing our refreshed priorities based upon what our COVID-19 recovery plans are going to be, what the current business realities are, and how to best allocate resources when we have a somewhat constrained environment. As we move through the recovery, it’s imperative that we operate as efficiently and effectively as possible. Our top goal right now is to help drive continuous improvement so we can get back on course.

Even though we’re still in the middle of this pandemic, we want to ensure that we’re building in the flexibility that will be needed for what I’m sure will be another roller coaster ride in 2021. We also have to focus on the people. Our organization’s success depends upon the degree to which our people have both the capacity and the motivation to achieve professional growth. Another priority is strengthening our internal and external partnerships through close collaboration, through accountability and transparency, and also through metrics that are really aligned to our customers’ perspectives.

Having a high degree of transparency and showing genuine concern for people has helped keep our teams motivated. Also, Agile principles have come to the forefront—things around failing fast and then moving on become more poignant when you don’t have time or resources to waste commiserating over why this went wrong, etc. Having quick retrospectives at the end of the sprint or the release really helps us pick those top couple of actions and lessons that have the greatest impact and then move on.”

Watch the complete interview:

Michael Gläss, Lead Architect of the IT Master Platform (ITMP), Allianz Technology

“Our biggest challenge is actually a good problem to have: satisfying growing demand. We recently rolled out a new platform to many of our customers, introducing new technologies and faster performance. Now, we need to get it out to the many additional customers in the pipeline. To do that, we need to grow our organization to satisfy the increasing demand, and we need to restructure to accommodate that growth.

Our team is already large, with over 350 people in the immediate team and roughly a thousand in the surrounding services. But we want to roll our new platform out globally, across about 170 companies of Allianz. This is tremendous. That’s why our 2021 focus is going to be on how to scale our organization and processes out smartly.

My top piece of advice is to always keep your goal in sight. Especially when you have a large project like a cloud migration, you need to have short term goals that you can achieve, demonstrate, and use to get buy-in from the others. Getting buy-in from your sponsors or partners is essential. You need to create something that has serious business impact that’s demonstrable at that point in time. Once others see that it’s cool, that it’s something they want to use, that will help you build momentum.”

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Naseer A. Mohammed, Director, Quality Assurance and P2P Supply Chain Planning, McKesson

“[As a result of the pandemic], many of the plans we originally had for 2020 have become our 2021 targets. Increasing test automation is a major focus—primarily to help us find defects earlier rather than to deliver faster. In Agile, you have only a short window to test. If you start testing late in the game, it’s hard to meet the deadline, and it’s hard to ensure that you satisfy high quality standards. We aim to shift left by introducing more automation earlier and performing more developer testing so that the product coming to QA is already very thoroughly tested.

It’s important to remember that end-to-end testing is critical. SAP is a huge part of McKesson’s operations. We also have a lot of other platforms associated with our ERP. Some areas are on the cloud, some are on-prem, some are green screens [mainframe]. SAP is the backbone, connecting many applications to enable end-to-end processes. Testing can’t cover just one particular application. It has to cover multiple applications end to end. It has to cover the seamless flow from point A, to point B, etc. and then eventually back to point A.”

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Alex Kyriazis, Portfolio Test Director – Payments Transformation Program, ANZ

“Here is my best advice for achieving your 2021 testing goals. Don’t get comfortable where you are today. Always look to innovate. Always look to change. Always look to enhance!

You probably have a lot of really great people doing a lot of mundane repetitive tasks. [Transform your testing so you can] tap their skills and expertise to evolve the organization.

Drive the change, and do not be scared to disrupt your business. The 10% process and quality improvement you might implement will give you a short-term win, but that’s not going to give you what you need to get ahead of the game, to compete with all the new players. In the financial industry, there’s a lot of new players, and a lot of them are non-bank organizations. We need to work out how we can disrupt the way we do our work. A lot of that is going to be around how fast we can deliver quality solutions into production.

That’s why you need to have a shift-left and a shift-right mentality. Shift-left is building quality production solutions as fast as you can. Shift-right is having a continuous testing approach that allows you to validate hourly, daily or weekly to let your stakeholders determine when they want to deploy into production—with a level of comfort that you won’t break production.”

Watch the complete interview: