Digital Quality as a Service: A Necessary Evolution of Software Testing
In today’s business environment, quality is the cornerstone of brand identity and defines how a customer perceives a product or service. Iconic brands like Rolex, Spotify and Porsche have achieved their reputation for high quality products through a fierce commitment to stringent quality measures.
Despite the fact that quality can significantly influence a product’s success, many companies put forth sporadic quality assurance efforts and lack a proper strategy. According to research published by the Consortium for Information and Software Quality (CISQ), in 2022 the cost of poor software quality in the US alone was $2.41 trillion.
Specifically, companies lack a proper strategy that is consistently executed, i.e. one that lays the foundation for a repeatable process that increases quality standards over time. Modern digital platforms are complex, involving multiple channels, interfaces and technology — and these require comprehensive quality engineering techniques.
A dedicated focus on a holistic view of digital quality is a necessity and companies can only achieve this by building a quality partner into their SDLC. As an expert across all quality disciplines (functional, UX, accessibility, localisation, automation, etc.), the quality partner decides on how best to build quality engineering into the development process based on the company’s specific objectives, roadmap, workflows and development methodology. This new breed of engagement is known as the Digital Quality as a Service (DQaaS) model.
This article explains what we mean by DQaaS and the benefits that it can bring for any organisation committed to providing only the very best digital experiences to its customers.
What is Digital Quality as a Service?
There are several ‘As-a-Service' models in the software testing industry, such as Testing as a Service (TaaS), Validation as a Service (VaaS), Test Automation as a Service (TAaaS), etc. In working with many innovative industry leaders that are passionate about quality, Applause has seen organisations seek DQaaS offerings to help improve quality processes and provide a single holistic solution to the functional and non functional needs of a digital product.
In business terms, DQaaS is a managed-service engagement in which the provider commits to achieve pre-agreed quality outcomes for the client for a fixed fee. In agreement with the client, the provider decides on the best way to achieve the desired outcomes, which usually involves a mix of exploratory testing, accessibility, usability, test case execution, automation, etc.
As part of the engagement, it is taken as a given that the provider writes and executes test cases, provides product feedback, ensures alignment with the client’s roadmap, ensures frictionless customer journeys, aligns to the right level of test coverage, plugs in at the right part of the SDLC and works in-sprint where applicable. The provider may work for one or multiple product teams.
Companies that partner with a DQaaS provider also gain access to a shared services team that can support multiple product teams, as it is not tied to a specific business function. The shared services team consults, implements and steers quality strategy within an organisation and allocates resources to specific product teams depending on strategic priorities.
The benefits of Digital Quality as a Service
1. Holistic approach to quality
DQaaS is about approaching quality holistically. A shared services team has expertise across performance, functional, usability, payments and accessibility testing. Its purpose is to drive end-to-end quality within an organisation, ensuring that products and features are built using the same quality standards. It also ensures customer journeys are smooth, as features that only work well in isolation do not always equal high-quality products when combined together in a flow.
2. Deep expertise
Shared services teams are not a group of testers that simply test and identify bugs. They are a team of digital experts that know how to triage, assess and prioritise bugs, as well as manage and incentivise a team of crowdtesters to achieve relevant results. They have expertise in different types of testing, from functional to accessibility, as well as a deep understanding of how to implement and improve processes like test automation and customer journey testing.
3. Focus on outcomes, not input
Purely supplying resources is different to providing a service. A shared services team agrees on concrete outcomes with the client, rather than agreeing to assign a certain sized team or number of hours to a project. Examples of outcomes may be to reduce time to market by 20% or the cost of quality assurance by 30%. This gives the client much greater confidence in the value of a shared services team and helps build predictability into budgeting.
4. Broader look at quality in the company
As they are not tied to a specific department or business function, a shared services team has the benefit of the bigger picture. They tend to have a much better idea than individual teams of the quality efforts and strategies being explored at organisational level. This means their work can draw on learnings and best practices from other teams, leading to much more informed and directed decision making.
5. Plug-in service
Many organisations recognise that they could be doing more to build quality into DevOps practices, but they often don’t have the resources to hire people to fill the gap. Sometimes they also don’t know how to fix it, or even what actually needs fixing. A shared services team can plug into existing workflows to work out what needs improving and allocate the right resources to get it done.
6. Focus on strategic priorities
A shared services team works on projects that are of the most strategic importance in a given moment. If one team needs support with automation, the shared services team could allocate a team to automate the existing regression suite. Once automation reaches a certain level, the team moves on to the next project. This is a very Agile mindset to quality: iterate until you see significant improvement, then do the same elsewhere, before returning.
7. Bespoke quality strategy
Quality is not one size fits all. While there are best practices and frameworks companies can follow, the right approach to quality can vary depending on internal resources, whether teams are Agile or not, or how many features and products the company offers. Shared services teams advise clients on the best way to build in quality for their organisation.
8. A culture of quality
In my experience, the companies that produce the highest-quality digital experiences have a clear culture of quality at both organisational and team level. They understand the value that quality brings for their organisation because they know how important it is to their customers. Bringing on a shared services team helps to signal to internal teams the level of importance that is placed on quality and encourages teams to level up.
How crowdtesting supports Digital Quality as a Service
Leveraging the power of the crowd is a great way to implement DQaaS. Crowdtesting provides real-world testing on real devices to managed-services agreements in which dedicated resources are on hand to manage and triage bugs found by testers, consult on QA best practices and build testing maturity through creating and automating regression suites. This way, companies benefit both from involving real user perspectives in product development while also continually improving their internal QA processes and ensuring concrete quality objectives are met.