As we settle into the new year, we’re thinking ahead to what’s coming down the pipeline. With the help of the World Quality Report released by Capgemini at the end of last year, we’ve identified some of the big testing topics that are on the minds of technology teams, and we’re sharing our thoughts on where we are now, and where we might be headed in the coming months.

Testing communities across Canada and around the world have been dealing with the impact of COVID-19. While we have written about some of the challenges that teams may be facing, particularly around communicating while working from home and making the transition to fully-remote workplaces, we are now thinking about the long-lasting impacts that COVID-19 will have on the testing world.

For example, many of our clients are in the process of tackling big digital transformation projects, some of which have been accelerated due to the increase in demand for online services. We are also hearing about more and more companies that are offering new services like remote patient monitoring to help lighten the load for healthcare providers, or new hardware platforms with embedded software.

These new services, platforms, and devices will all need to be tested and will require a change in mindset around what our teams need to be successful. Leaders would do well to consider the training, tools, techniques, and skillsets that will help their teams excel in this new environment.

Something to think about
What have you put in place during the pandemic that should be carried over post-pandemic to better serve your employees and your customers?

Agile and DevOps are not new concepts in 2021, but the way that we think about them and how our testing teams fit within them will continue to evolve this year. Training will be a critical piece of the puzzle when figuring out how to best embed testing into the agile and DevOps world. While manual testing remains the backbone of quality assurance, we need to figure out how best to introduce DevOps tools and practices into our testing teams in a way that encourages adoption.

Your testing team should be developing a deeper understanding of test automation, integrating testing into the CI/CD pipeline, and how the various moving pieces of an application or platform work together to provide greater clarity on where they should be spending their testing efforts.

One of the trends we are seeing from the past year is teams embracing the concept of Disciplined Agile, which encourages a more people-focused framework to agile. We will be watching to see whether this new approach is a flash in the pan or something that has a significant impact on how we test in the coming year.

Something to think about
What are the skills that manual testers need to learn in order to provide value in an agile/DevOps model? 

While it seems like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) have been part of our collective vocabulary for a while now, we can expect to hear about them even more in 2021. The biggest barrier to their use may be that while we speak about them a lot, very few teams have incorporated AI and ML into their testing practices and both are often seen as scary and complex. As we see more adoption and better real-life examples, this fear will start to subside. We expect to see AI and ML start playing a part in something like maintenance time on automation scripts for example.

On the testing front, there will likely be a lot of talk about how AI and ML can help us test smarter and whether AI-driven testing tools will help mature organizational testing practices. What does this look like in real life? Well, we’ve been exploring the idea of an application that learns from various parts of the business including Slack messages, GitHub, application analysis, and defect data to create a report that predicts where the highest number of bugs may be found.

Something to think about
What are some other tangible examples of how AI and ML can make testers more efficient?

If your team is anything like ours, you probably had to pick your jaw up off the ground when you saw the stat that only 37% of teams are seeing ROI from automation. It started us off on a whole series of questions about what teams should be thinking about in 2021, on everything from what people think they should be automating, whether they’ve adopted an automation-first mentality or are embracing the full spectrum of automation tools, and even if maybe it was time for the testing community to refine automation and ROI.

It also brings up the question of education and expectation. As testing experts, it’s our job to communicate the power and the limitations of automation. Having a well-thought out, and well-communicated testing plan that demonstrates the capabilities of an automation project will go a long way to increasing the percentage of organizations who are able to see a good ROI. Wondering how to approach that conversation with your company’s leadership team? Check out our post on making the case for automation.

But we get it, the shift from manual testing to automation isn’t a straight line and we’ve seen our clients struggle to find the right balance. While we all understand the value that automation could bring – better test coverage, less human error, more efficient testing processes – adopting a full-automation practice can be tough.

Take this example: there are many automation teams who are still running localized automation scripts by manually kicking off the automation script; while this is a step in the right direction, you still aren’t getting the full benefit from automation. Instead, teams should be taking their scripts to GitHub/Bitbucket and then linking the trigger of the script via a CI server like Jenkins.

But that’s all a lot easier said than done when you’ve got a group of manual testers with little automation experience on your hands. In 2021, we think that more and more teams, both technical and business, will be looking to the codeless automation tools like Tricentis to help them see the benefits of automation.

Something to think about
What else do you think that teams need to be doing in 2021 to demonstrate better ROI on automation?

We’re going to be thinking about each of those questions as well while we head into 2021 with hopes for a year with fewer surprises than we had in 2020. What testing priorities are you thinking about for the year ahead? If you need some help, we’re happy to chat.

Abhishek is a QA evangelist who is passionate about quality assurance and testing at all levels of the organization. He is currently the Director of Service Delivery, Ontario, and also leads Web Accessibility TCoE at PLATO. Abhishek is PMP and has played key roles throughout his career in positions like Service Center Manager, Delivery Manager, QA Portfolio Manager, and led Managed Services Testing Teams spread across the globe. Abhishek loves to train and coach teams in software testing and its principles.

Jonathan Duncan is our Head of Partnerships and Alliances at PLATO based in Fredericton, NB. Jonathan has over two decades of wide-ranging experience across all facets of the software development cycle. He has experience in a variety of industries that stretch from the public sector to start-ups in satellite communications and everything in between. Having worked in organizations from both the development and testing standpoints provides Jonathan with the ability to see problems from all aspects allowing for complete solutions to be delivered.

Matt Villeneuve

Matt has been testing and leading quality teams on software and hardware projects professionally since 2002. His experience includes building quality processes and tools from the ground up; leading local and global teams; working with designers and customers to fine tune requirements; and testing software, hardware and embedded systems, using both automation and manual methods. He has worked on a wide range of technologies both hardware and software, including a variety of platforms. He is a Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) and enjoys the human connections that are fostered in high performing agile teams.

Mike Hrycyk has been trapped in the world of quality since he first did user acceptance testing 20+ years ago. He has survived all of the different levels and a wide spectrum of technologies and environments to become the quality dynamo that he is today. Mike believes in creating a culture of quality throughout software production and tries hard to create teams that hold this ideal and advocate it to the rest of their workmates. Mike is currently the VP of Service Delivery, West for PLATO Testing, but has previously worked in social media management, parking, manufacturing, web photo retail, music delivery kiosks and at a railroad. Intermittently, he blogs about quality at

Twitter: @qaisdoes