Break silos by integrating DevOps and QA and improve speed and quality 

The goal of any enterprise is to churn out software at a fast clip without compromises on quality. A software team has several verticals like development, operations, testing, and release work which work largely independent of one another in their own silos, with a considerable degree of freedom and their own philosophies.

This impedes the stated common goal. Consider it like how one limb of the body not knowing what the others are up to.  In sport or dance coordination between different parts of the body is essential for graceful movement and avoiding injuries.

Extrapolated to the software world, a system where departments work in silos independent of one another is counter-productive for the product as it may be riddled with bugs, has a longer time-to-release, and crucially, lacks ownership when it comes to resolution mechanism.

Silos: Why they exist and why they need to go 

In a software development enterprise, teams are traditionally pigeonholed and rarely coordinate with each other. This is despite several overlapping subjects. As experts put it, they ‘live in their own world’. This is true even for Quality Assurance (QA) teams who come in at the end of the traditional development cycle and are meant to test the code for bugs. Even information pertaining to common subjects doesn’t flow as seamlessly. This is primarily because of the complexity in IT.

Though software firms focus on quality and stability of the product, this is often at the cost of agility or speed at which the software is released. This is because of silos.

Such a system of working needs to be dismantled because it is the major hindrance to agility and hence quality of the software product.

Just think of a product or an update that needs to be released within 15 days which takes a month. Or a bug issue identified by the QA team which remains unresolved because the development and the operations departments don’t know who is responsible for it.

Silos also affect regulatory compliance as it is a subject that is dealt by the operations department, but it may not have been factored in by the development team.

How DevOps can dismantle Silos 

DevOps short for Development and Operations is a methodology which integrates all software development processes like development, operations, and testing within one cycle.

The basic philosophy itself aims to break the walls between different teams and make them work together. This opens up channels of communication; for instance, the code builder in the development team will be observed by the operations counterpart. Even if this doesn’t happen, every issue in the structure of the software will get identified in earlier iterations thus bringing all functions together at an early stage.

DevOps is seen as one continuous cycle where all teams have a shared common goal of accuracy and stability of the software product. No individual team can claim success for their own process flow.

Role of QA

 The role of QA professionals has fundamentally changed; increasingly, they have to ensure that the entire business is working in the right direction, than just look at debugging. This means that QA professionals have to be keyed into all processes like development, architecture, and security. They even need to don the hat of a customer to get that perspective.

QA professionals thus can be the bridge across different teams and act as a mediating manager by organizing meetings to seamlessly resolve minor nitpickings and break silos. More so, since they are likely to have a cross-functional expertise.

Here are some of the benefits of breaking silos: 
  • Faster deployment of software with fewer errors
  • Quicker reaction time to competition
  • Better focus on business and compliance
  • Teams are more productive

In conclusion, a combination of DevOps methodology and a cross-functional QA team can seamlessly dismantle existing silos and provide widespread benefits to a software-developing enterprise.

 

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Siddharth Prabhakar