QA Engineers Growing 25k Anually, but Why?

By: Matt Angerer

The more the Internet of Things continues to grow and evolve, it changes the way organizations and customers interact with software. Customers are demanding enhanced connectivity and increased mobile information access. Expectations couldn’t be higher, and everyone wants instant gratification.

In response, organizations have become more flexible in the services and deliverables they offer. Businesses have also started to recognize that the rapid development of new technologies has created new challenges, increasing their support and delivery responsibilities. Emerging technologies ensure the year 2015 and beyond will present even more challenges and demands of quality assurance and testing. As a QA Director, you should be aware of these new demands even if you haven’t already felt them hit your organization. In the words of Jack Welch, we need to “change before we’re forced to change.” This sentiment especially rings true in the world of quality assurance and testing.

26% Increase in QA Budgets: Focus on Quality

Reliability and quality are now receiving far greater attention than in the past. Among the changes that are currently taking place across all spectrums is an increase in QA testing budgets. Testing budgets for the development of new software is now beginning to overtake budgets that were once allocated for software maintenance.

According to the World Quality Report, “Q&A budgets continue to increase, to levels not seen previously, in part driven by digital transformation initiatives.” The report goes on to state that the proportion of IT budgets being allocated to quality assurance testing has increased from 18 to 26 percent in the last two years. Furthermore, the share of testing budgets are expected to continue rising in the next few years, reaching 29 percent by 2017.

While QA testing budgets are certainly on the rise, the World Quality Report found that there is still a need to balance QA testing spend. For instance, while 34 percent of respondents reported that they felt their testing spend was appropriate, 15 percent believed they spent too much on testing. 20 percent thought their testing budget was insufficient considering the number of problems they experienced in production.

Outsourcing Continues as a Cost-Cutting Measure

Many  companies are also seeking ways to cut costs, most often with third-party testing firms. A report released by the business research firm Nelson Hall found that the independent testing industry will see an annual growth rate of 9.5 percent through 2018. The National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) also found that an increasing amount of testing business will be directed offshore.

The World Quality Report indicates that more businesses are searching for external testing providers beyond simple staff augmentation. In fact, Dominique Raviart, an IT outsourcing research director for Nelson Hall, stated “Vendors have expanded their portfolio from traditional functional/non-functional testing activities to a range of specialized services.”

The Value of DDE

Services offered by providers include vertical sector knowledge, to deliver outcome-based QA and testing. In many instances, businesses are electing to enter into a partnership with managed or outsourcing service providers, thus sharing business result accountability. This has proven to be particularly important. According to Dr. David Kapfhammer, a global VP for Capgemini’s Financial Services Software Testing Practice, “As QA and testing budgets increase, IT leaders are coming under increasing pressure to demonstrate a return on investment for their spend on QA.” Justifying an ROI for your spend on Quality Assurance and Testing is best accomplished with sound KPI (key performance indicators). For example, you may want to measure the Defect Detection Effectiveness (DDE) of your monthly regression testing cycles:

DDE = (defects detected in testing) / (defects detected in testing + defects detected in production)

A general rule of thumb is to calculate DDE at specified time internals of 30, 60, and 90 days after release into your productive environment, ceterus peribus. According to industry benchmarks, 90% of incidents reported occur within 30 days of a new build, and 95% of incidents reported occur within 90 days after the release. If your organization is consistently achieving a DDE over 95%, then your overall delivery process (including regression testing) is outstanding.

To justify the QA spend, we recommend showcasing not only the critical and high severity defects trapped during the testing cycles, but also to showcase how your overall ALM process helped identify static defects in requirements that never materialized into application-specific bugs. The ResultsPositive ALM Innovation Center can help your organization assess and identify areas of weakness with our 21-point rapid assessment services.

As the industry continues to expand and more companies recognize the need for increased spend in QA testing, the demand for skilled testing professionals will also increase. According to Raviart, approximately 25,000 IT professionals enter the industry as career testers. Increased focus on QA testing is making it possible to reduce application errors while also improving the performance and security of software. With over 25,000 new QA-focused IT professionals entering the market each year, we must ensure that our foundational ALM principles remain sound.

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