How software quality platforms outrank single-point solutions
- A platform is a means to an end — and it’s more efficient than alternatives like single-point solutions. The best platforms expand and leverage core functionality to ensure better testing and higher-quality software.
- Failure to implement a platform-based solution can impact not only quality but also overall organizational health in the long term. Adopting a holistic approach improves the visibility of productivity and integrations.
- A high-quality platform is not just about additional features and costs — it’s also about universal accessibility and flexibility based on specific organizational maturity curves. Users can start small and add features as needed without fears of outgrowing the platform.
If you’re a quality engineer and software developer doing manual or automated testing, you’re almost certainly using single-point solutions. These can be great for specific problems but they lack the flexibility to deal with multiple issues at once.
Thankfully, there is another (better) way to tackle challenges that also benefits teams and organizations in the long run.
A holistic approach to testing and software quality management improves visibility on team productivity, training, and integrations. Meanwhile, increased flexibility, extensibility, and standardization of both skills and tools make application development a breeze.
Switching from manual to automated testing — or from custom solutions to best-of-breed — needn’t be an obstacle to growth. Likewise, there’s no reason existing homegrown solutions should block scalability.
A platform-based strategy saves time, keeps costs down, and improves quality as much as possible. Having fewer testing bottlenecks makes business unit demands achievable and makes customers happier due to less defect leakage. And a peer-approved selection unites the organization under one banner.
The value of platforms to teams and organizations
While the term “platform” is widely used across different contexts, it’s not impossible to define.
In general, a platform provides core functionality for certain domains and solutions along with the ability to expand and leverage that functionality as needed. Platforms are the backbone of what organizations using them are trying to achieve.
A single unit is more cohesive and better integrated than a distributed solution. If you’re using a single-point solution, it’s hard to adapt to different challenges. Expending effort on inevitably trying to bring different systems together (as will happen with these types of solutions) can be wasteful.
Much like a car company offering high- and low-end models that often have the same components, platform providers have a bird’s-eye view of commonalities between users across multiple domains. This insight is invaluable to both medium and large enterprises.
A typical software quality workflow involves figuring out how to test an application system, which is split into multiple stages. A platform that does most of the core workflow for users is an immediate win for engineers and developers.
But if managers need to examine this workflow more closely for cycle time or consistency, the platform draws on data from multiple customers to provide what these managers need.
Quality management should be built into the right platform
The two key components of quality are authoring and orchestration.
Authoring doesn’t just have to be test automation — it could be exploratory, covering many types of authored tests. Orchestration is about efficiently executing these different tests. Then, you need to analyze the results and act upon them.
A viable platform should support both of these quality components. In addition, it needs to efficiently manage software workflow and other priority activities — controlling linkages between information.
Instead of navigating rote tasks, managers should be able to focus on empowering teams to complete critical tasks. From their “cockpit,” they should be able to ask, what are the next steps? The answer should allow them to make intelligent decisions holistically.
You might like: Software Quality Management Best Practices | 5 Do's & Don'ts
At the same time, quality engineers often have an underlying fear of replacement by machines. But the right platform emphasizes human interaction, dispelling this myth. In fact, platforms help manage people even better, especially with the rise of asynchronous workforces.
The right platform also manages variety. Teams might differ in size, industry, technology stack, and application types usage. But they can all still use a single customizable and extensible platform like Salesforce.
Shared platform usage between teams helps with onboarding and training. The increased familiarity is a byproduct of the standardization that good platforms inevitably bring. Rather than completing sprints just to understand how tests happen and are structured, teams have shared, core quality engineering principles that are captured in knowledge documentation and that tangibly benefit them.
The costs of not using a platform
App hobbyists or small teams can code, test, and release products without platforms. But as companies and products grow, the increase in time, risk, and labor necessitate a platform.
If you don’t use a platform, you’re integrating — or attempting to integrate — multiple products. This isn’t uncommon, but the process is painful.
Then, you need more training to understand how it all currently fits together. On top of that, different products have different roadmaps with timelines that might change, negatively affecting partners. Suddenly, you have unsupported integrations, and you need to reconfigure the solution — then, the vendor severs the partnership.
Rolling out a new platform inevitably involves data migration and training. Product combinations based on point solutions place no obligation on testing teams to make sure every product works with each other. Every team is siloed with its own product, and organizational fragmentation is the order of the day.
A lot of unseen complexity and nuance exists outside the domain of integration, but effective solutions need compatibility across different products to work in the long term. Because this seems like an insurmountable obstacle, teams are far more likely to bury their heads in the sand — even if they can’t afford to.
What a quality platform should look like
Unfortunately, quality engineering is still perceived as a bottleneck in many organizations. Quality teams are considered archaic and slow — not cutting-edge or interesting. This additional pressure only magnifies challenges for them. But a unified platform could do a lot for these teams.
Small startups can feel hampered by the complexity of platforms, and adopting a platform might be overkill in the early stages — unless you choose a flexible and scalable solution. But bigger organizations that fail to utilize a platform will be held back and slowed down without the right combination of tools.
Quality platforms aren’t just about more features and additional costs to organizations. They offer accessibility for all and flexibility based on specific maturity curves, regardless of team skill sets. Users can add features based on the size of the organization and the solution in question, so they never outgrow the platform.
You should get a seamless, cross-functional experience from a vendor which has an overhead view of the commonalities between clients’ problems — and the right solution. And the only single point is the contact for support: one vendor, one number, and one unified purpose, operationally and executively.
Quality platforms allow organizations to focus on what they do best without worrying about cost, labor, time constraints, or underlying technology.