Skills shortage holds back agile software development, survey finds


Fragmented testing processes and a lack of automation skills are hampering enterprises’ efforts to speed up the deployment of new software, according to a new survey on software testing released this week.

The report, published by test management specialist Zephyr Inc. on Thursday, notes that continuous software delivery is a growing requirement among enterprises. It means that DevOps teams, which combine programmers and information technology personnel, are coming under increasing pressure to speed up workflows through steps like automated testing. But a lack of training and tools, alongside vague testing processes, is preventing faster deployments, the survey found.

Zephyr said it surveyed over 1,000 of its customers in more than 100 countries for its annual “How the World Tests” survey, including IT professionals from the healthcare, retail, government, education, transportation, manufacturing and financial services industries.

Zephyr said that more than half of the 1,000 respondents in its survey admitted that they lack the skills to deliver software continuously, with 35 percent citing a lack of automation testing as the biggest obstacle. A smaller percentage of respondents said they were unclear as to which parts of the software testing process should be automated, resulting in significant “roadblocks to deployment.”

“Testing teams in a breadth of industries face the same issues in deploying tools and providing internal training fast enough to meet the needs of continuous software deployment,” Zephyr Chief Executive Scott Johnson said in a statement.

Zephyr argues that enterprises need to increase their investments in training in order to fine-tune automated testing and enable continuous software deployment. At present, just 30 percent of the survey respondents said they were automating software testing, even though the majority wish to embrace agile development. This points to a shortfall in skills among agile software development teams, which means that most enterprises are unable to to scale up their continuous software delivery efforts.

“DevOps is no longer a buzzword, it’s a critical move to achieve the ultimate goal of conquering continuous testing and a seamless agile flow,” the report said.

A second major problem identified by the survey is the vast number of software types currently under development, with use cases ranging from the Internet of Things to the cloud. However, Zephyr said there was no statistical increase in IoT software testing over the last year, as the sector “seems to be taking a breather.”

“We see no signs of consolidation across hundreds of fragmented automated tools [and] we anticipate increased investments to upgrade skill sets in automation for current employees,” the company concluded.

While Zephyr’s survey results are perhaps advantageous to the company itself, the findings tally somewhat with a December 2016 survey from Appvance Inc., that found some 54 percent of enterprises are struggling to speed up continuous software development because of their inability to automate quality assurance processes.

Image credit: Markusspiske via