Six Ways Value Stream Tool Integration Can Improve Your Software Quality

Six Ways Value Stream Tool Integration Can Improve Your Software Quality

In Test Management, Tool integration, Value Stream Automation by Soumya Menon

Testing and quality assurance (QA) in software delivery has never been easy for any enterprise. QA teams need traceability and visibility into requirements as they are being created. The lack of which leads to siloed processes, disparate systems, non-alignment to customer requirements and business goals, delayed product releases, poor customer support and service, and even defects going into production — all affecting the quality of the software. Fortunately, when lean approaches like Value Stream Management (VSM) are implemented, teams can eliminate manual handoffs via emails, spreadsheets, and meetings. They can also implement techniques, such as automation, that enable information to flow dynamically between tools, teams, and processes. 

Equally (and perhaps even more) important is visibility into the software delivery value streams themselves. VSM holds the key, provided that it propels this capability. This is where a value stream management platform (VSMP) can provide significant value. 

A VSMP enables organizations and their teams to see, measure, and automate their software delivery value streams and make extremely productive use of that information. One of the strongest features, among others, of a VSMP, is value stream automation, which enables you to connect all the tools in your software development and delivery pipelines, eliminating waste throughout your software delivery processes. It empowers users to:

  • Synchronize for the removal of waste and improved collaboration
  • Trigger for interoperability for increased productivity, cost reduction, and controlled flow of information
  • Monitor for amplification of feedback loops, implementation of governance, and capturing of data for key results
  • Collect data to make data-driven decisions, and regulation and compliance

This in turn helps to:

  • Improve predictability through traceability 
  • Increase collaboration for transparency 
  • Aggregate your data to simplify governance and auditing
  • Eliminate manual processes to allow your team to focus on value-added activities

Tool integration capability of a VSM platform accelerates Quality Assurance

No matter what organizations or software teams like to call it — shift left, continuous testing, or holistic testing — testing is a cornerstone of quality assurance. It is also integral to value creation and monitoring in software development and delivery. 

Embracing value stream automation and the capability of a VSM platform to integrate tools will lead to dramatic improvements in an organization’s quality assurance and test management functions. Integrating best-of-breed test management tools with other tools will enable the QA team to view requirements as they are planned, designed, and documented. This results in higher-quality test coverage, helping teams identify defects more quickly and enabling QA teams to test what they can when they can. 

[Find out how to Manage Your Entire Test Management Process with Tricentis Tosca and Micro Focus ALM Integration]

Here are six ways tool integration and automation help improve the functions of the QA or testing team. 

Improve throughput by focusing on the QA function

Integrating the tools in your value stream will help identify defects faster and gives visibility to requirements as they are being planned, designed, and documented. The QA team can test what they can when they can. 

Improve visibility and traceability of requirements to properly plan to test

Connecting the tools and optimizing the software development and delivery value stream also bridges the gap between development and ITSM tools — this end-to-end tool integration enables the QA team to quickly recognize the need to enhance regression testing. The QA team can measure how effective the testing is at identifying bugs before release. 

[Want to see it in action? Watch How to Overcome Testing Bottlenecks & Breakdown Traditional QA Silos]

Improve change controls and management with real-time status updates

Closing feedback loops for faster change requirements are critical. When you use separate tools to track change requests and to develop test cases for different layers of testing, most probably artifacts are not synced. This can lead to oversights in test coverage and critical defects. Integrating these tools will ensure that the loop from a change request to the original requirement all the way to test cases is easily accessible, eliminating human error. With traceability, the QA team can suggest or perform regression tests more effectively. 

[Also watch Finding & Fixing the Bottlenecks in Agile and DevOps Delivery Cycle]

Improve testing at every stage with real-time feedback loops

Bridge the gap between test management tools. Developers and QA teams may not agree with a single test management tool and this will lead to a lack of visibility and proper feedback. Integrating these tools (for example Jira and Micro Focus ALM) will make sure that both teams are alerted about artifacts. QA teams performing testing must always question the validity of test cases that have no associated requirements. This can be done only when there is cross-platform synchronization, status updates, and alerts. When a defect is logged in a test management tool and synced back to another tool, a VSMP will retain the association of artifacts and requirements. 

Improve team collaboration and reduce costs by shifting left

Shifting left is all about testing early, testing often, testing in production, and identifying and fixing defects when it’s less costly to do so. It’s about involving the QA team in the earliest aspects of enhancements or new product planning and build. Involving QA teams early and at every step of the software delivery lifecycle helps in rooting out defects sooner. This helps improve software quality.

[Read about this pharmaceutical company that saved their IT teams 25 hours a day through improved process efficiency and productivity by connecting their dev and QA teams and automating workflows]

Encourage effective developer and tester alignment

The constant back and forth between developers and testers are a usual phenomenon and this can be avoided by introducing a plugin, but, will that be cost-effective? Integrating the tools of choice (for example Jira and Azure DevOps) by using an end-to-end value stream optimization solution like ConnectALL will ensure more clarity between teams about their activities. Screen grabs, attachments, comments, and other artifacts associated with a defect will flow from one tool to another. Bug fix time improves and the team can update comments, statues, and activities without having to waste time on back and forth. And the QA team need not provide every detail of how the bug was found.

Conclusion: Drive test excellence and predictability with data synchronization 

Such a solution also supports integration across the entire range of DevOps, Agile, ALM, PPM, and ITSM tools, enabling unprecedented insight throughout the lifecycle and reducing the amount of testing needed to achieve release goals. Automatic, bi-directional data synchronization among distributed software tools, teams, and processes further extends the value. 

Additionally, screen grabs, attachments, comments, and other artifacts associated with a defect can flow from one tool to another. Bug fix time improves and the team can update comments, statuses, and activities without having to waste time on back and forth. 

In summary, a VSMP is designed to unify people, processes, and tools, from ideation to monitoring. It helps enterprises identify issues or defects faster, collaborate better, share more effective feedback, and understand customer requirements more quickly. The outcome is improved product quality, reduced time to market, and decreased time to value without the laborious effort involved in endless rounds of tests. 

If you are ready to accelerate and build everything more efficiently with a value stream management platform, contact our specialized sales representatives for a demo. They will guide you on the path of predictability.

Want to learn more about how a VSMP can help you improve software quality? Watch this webinar — Bust This Myth: Software Quality is not Everyone’s Problem. Six Ways Tool Integration Dramatically Improves Test Management Processes and QA