As I was writing the Agile and DevOps section in the WQR 2015 report published today, I was struck by the fact that, once in a lifetime comes an opportunity for a community often known to build walls to use those same stones to build bridges. Building bridges means reaching out to both sides of the world (in this case dev and operations), understanding the nuances they operate in and learning their skills — connecting two disparate groups. Here are the top five skills that the testing community needs to think about to as they evolve in to the Agile and DevOps era.

1.Agile testing transformation skills to create time to market business cases:
The 2015 World Quality Report data reveals that 61% of overall respondents rate time-to-market as a very important part of their corporate strategy. The proliferation of Agile is driven by business metrics, such as Return on Revenue and Return on Investment (ROR/ROI) for new development, and throughput efficiencies for legacy systems. This means that in the Testing community it’s imperative to create business cases and agile roadmaps with the right lean metrics aligned. This also means shifting from the traditional “cost of quality business cases” to “cost to achieve desired test velocity business cases.” Quality is a given.

2. Continuous testing skills :
Continuous testing techniques are used by 50% of the respondents in their DevOps initiatives, with 29% planning to use it and only 21% reporting that continuous testing is not in the cards. Today there is a plethora of tools, both commercial and open source, for agile test management, test-driven development (TDD), behavior-driven development (BDD), and continuous integration etc. The key skill will be effectively choosing the right set of tools and integrating them with typical testing tools such as HP UFT or Selenium to facilitate continuous delivery.

3.Testing shifts with environment virtualizations and test data set-up skills:
52% of respondents stated that environment virtualization is a key lever for testing in DevOps. This means the emergence of new roles like test environment specialists to facilitate quick deployment. Critical, and often ignored, parts of environment set up are test data automation and optimization skills. Typically in an individual program, one would have Unit, Scrum, Scrum of Scrum, and final acceptance testing environments at a minimum. If we consider an enterprise-wide agile program with twenty scrum teams, then the test data set up time increases exponentially. This is a key bottleneck in the Financial Services and Telecom sectors where one would typically encounter a plethora of systems talking to each other.

4.Enterprise-level hybrid agile testing skills:
Analysis shows that agile development is driven by digital and mobile initiatives, with the Scaled Agile framework (SAFe) methodology taking the biggest market share (31%). Typically organizations are using a combination of DSDM, SCRUM, and XP noting that SAFe is enterprise-driven. This creates the need to build skills to create custom guidelines, methods, and metrics to facilitate hybrid enterprise-wide agile. One size certainly will not fit all.

5.Emergence of the Software development engineer tester (SDET) role:
The SDET role becomes mainstream with only 21% of the respondents stating that they do not support this role. Shared working is also prevalent with 43% saying that they would have SDET as a shared role and 36% would use SDET within SCRUM teams. This means building unit testing, test-driven development, and behavior-driven development skills using tools such as Cucumber and Concordian. It also means building reusable frameworks which can be shared across the enterprise.

The key to success above all is people and collaboration. The team wins or loses, keeping in mind that success is never final and neither is failure. From a management standpoint it is critical to build a servant leadership culture where we learn by choice or example and serve others respectfully. As the famous director James Cameron very nicely put it “The magic does not come from the director’s mind. It comes from within the hearts of the actors.” In this case the multi-disciplined team.

Follow the link to access the World Quality Report 2015-16 –