Is the ALM Reboot Resulting in the Downfall of QA?

Is the ALM Reboot Resulting in the Downfall of QA?

Everyone will become developers during sprint — and quality will be everyone’s responsibility
Lately we have all been hearing terms like Agile lifecycle, Continuous Integration (CI), Continuous Deployment (CD), Continuous Quality (CQ), Test-Driven Development (TDD), Shift Left Testing, and Quality Engineering — and barely hearing terms like process-driven Quality Assurance, ISO 9000 certified testing, CMM level 5 quality, independent V&V, etc. Does this mean that the latest reboot of ALM is resulting in the downfall or maybe even slow death of QA?

This industry-wide change is very important for us to understand, as 30+% of our services engagements are for QA services. We have observed that the demand for test automation is increasing with a new generation of applications, and there is an inherent expectation from QA teams to not only have application functionality/process knowledge but also to be technology-savvy. There is a drive in the industry that quality is everyone’s responsibility, and mundane/repeatable tasks should be automated so QA can focus on more important exploratory testing by leveraging a new generation of tools and technology.

More precisely speaking, the distinction of developers and QA causes a lot of friction in the new generation of the agile lifecycle, resulting in issues like QA having very little work at the beginning of a sprint and lots of tasks piling up for QA towards the end of the sprint. Developers write features faster than QA can test, and hence the backlog becomes an issue. Some smart developers invested in CI/CD and QA verification of automated build with the help of automated QA, but test automation alone does not suffice — human intelligence is needed to ensure the right quality.

Does this really mean the downfall of QA? I have a simpler view to answer this radical question: everyone will become developers during sprint — and quality will be everyone’s responsibility. The separate need of the QA role will decline. I believe those currently in QA who are technology-savvy (let us call them QE — Quality Engineers) will actually be more in demand — first to do automation and next to do exploratory testing leveraging human intelligence. Those in the development team will be required to work hand-in-hand with QE to develop testable code and also to aid in the testing process throughout sprint — really living up to the promise of “quality is everyone’s responsibility.” Change is happening as part of the latest ALM reboot, and we need to get ready to embrace it rather than denying or resisting it.

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