Zephyr - A Real-Time Test Management Approach To Support Software Quality Initiatives

By CIOReview Team

With the start of Service Oriented Architecture, increase in virtualization and adoption of cloud computing, current generation of testers have a lot of new aspects to consider. Assuring quality, defining the scope of testing, improving collaboration and scaling agile practices across departments are major aspects that enterprises and testers alike are searching for test management solutions consider crucial for growth. In a conversation with Sanjay Zalavadia, VP of Client Services for Zephyr, we get to understand how the company has helped more than 9000 customers across 100 countries get a definitive solution to the factors related to QA and testing. 

Q. How does Zephyr enable real-time test management products to support the software quality initiatives and customers to be 
more responsive?

Today, Agile is everywhere when it comes to software development and testing – it’s no longer an experiment that project teams are trying out. And quite often these project teams are distributed across the globe, so if information can’t be shared and acted on in real-time, things slow down dramatically – milestones are missed and revenue is impacted. Executives must have real-time awareness of project progress so they can react proactively instead of reactively.This is the exact reason why we have implemented real-time visibility into our solutions.

Q. How does Zephyr allow project teams to add testing to their planning, coding, and collaboration around software releases? 
Zephyr is methodology agnostic so depending on how specific you would like me to be there are several ways I can answer this question. At a high level, most development teams live in Dev tools like JIRA for requirements, project management and defects while QA teams spend about 50 percent of their time in a test management solution executing tests. Project teams plan and manage their development cycles inside products like JIRA and Zephyr. As software is developed and tested, bugs are automatically recorded and sent to Dev to fix. Meanwhile reporting becomes a function of work being done, keeping everyone in sync at all time. 

Q. Tell us about Zephyr for JIRA Server and JIRA Cloud.
As Agile has become more prevalent, the use of cross-functional roles within the project team has grown. We are seeing many developers and business team members becoming more involved in the testing process, and Zephyr for JIRA Server and Zephyr for JIRA Cloud allow them to work directly in a UI they are familiar with – JIRA. There are already so many tools in a developer’s toolkit that they need to learn and we didn’t want to add to that complexity. People like to continue working with tools they are used to, and that was something we prioritized when developing the Zephyr for JIRA products. These solutions can also be integrated with test automation and continuous integration tools, enabling the entire project team to manage the project cycle in an Agile fashion – and they have been the top selling test management add-ons on the Atlassian Marketplace since their release.

Q. How does Zephyr Enterprise Edition ensure global test delivery management to departments that have; mature processes and run multiple projects in parallel?
The first step to ensuring the global delivery aspect is our real-time capabilities. Users immediately see this benefit when this critical information is pushed them, and this ensures that they aren’t taking action against data that is no longer relevant or obsolete – if a feature is being dropped from a product, no additional resources should be wasted on attempting to include it. And beyond that, Zephyr Enterprise Edition allows teams to not only configure the system to meet their current needs, but their future needs as well. When enterprises make the switch to Zephyr, we don’t want them to have to throw everything out they’ve been using up to this point. Requirements management, defect tracking, test automation, continuous integration, DevOps, etc. are all tools that we want to be able to work with since they are products teams are using now, and if they aren’t, will likely be using in the future. We think that our configurability and flexibility with these integrations is something that really set us apart in the test management space.

Q. Tell us what is so unique about the integration aspect of Zephyr platforms. 
One of the biggest problems we have seen and experienced with legacy solutions was a lack of integrations. Having data silo’d in various systems and making it hard to get just adds more stress to an already pressure-filled situation – and it also makes Agile impossible. There are multiple tools required to manage all phases of a project, and we wanted to ensure that all of that data can be accessed quickly and easily. Our JIRA integration is the tightest one available, and its bi-directional nature ensures that data is transferred and updated in both systems simultaneously. Integrating with other solutions that are mission critical should not be a hindrance in the SDLC, so we’ve made it a non-issue. Agile requires flexibility, and that’s why we built our platform as one of openness.

Q. How do you ensure equal response times to hundreds of simultaneous users, engaging in hundreds of projects and running numerous test cases? 
I have been in the software testing space for more than two decades, and a lot of that experience is in managing large QA projects, but also the design and development of highly scalable telecom platforms and systems – we know how important it is to scale these technologies across an enterprise. A lot of what we had learnt in building these large scale systems at companies such as Virgin Mobile and Disney Mobile, has been factored into the architecture of our Zephyr Enterprise product. We also partner very closely with Atlassian, so we have been able to highly optimize our API calls to JIRA. Zephyr Enterprise can be deployed On-Premise or SaaS, and our largest enterprise customers are executing thousands of executions per day while managing hundreds of projects without any drop off in performance.

Q. What are the different ways Zephyr ensures 24x7 (24x5) customer support and how do you resolve technical issues without causing any prominent time delay for the client?
At Zephyr, customers are welcomed into our family and are treated as such. We know the issues that are caused by lack of support, and that is why providing world-class support has been a top priority for us since we started. We have a Support portal that contains all of the resources – including online documentation, how-to videos, and recorded product overviews – to get started on resolving an issue, as well as online community where you can submit cases and a member of our technical staff will walk you through whatever problems you may be experiencing. There is nothing worse than coming across a problem that is preventing you from getting your job done, so we’ve made sure that issue-resolution in a timely manner is always a top priority.

Q. What plans does Zephyr outline for the upcoming 5 years?
We’ve been experiencing some incredible growth at Zephyr, and are getting ready to take the next step. We just secured a 31M USD investment from Frontier Capital and are excited to see what the future holds. Many companies still have legacy software releases they have to work through, and we’re well positioned to help enterprises make the complete transition from waterfall to Agile practice – something very few organizations have actually done. Software is only increasing in complexity, and we’re dedicated to providing the solutions enterprises need to release higher quality software and complete this journey.

Q. Which features/ pointers of Zephyr would you subtly like us to highlight through this article?
• Integrations with Atlassian products.
• Integration with any automation framework and CI tools such as Jenkins and Bamboo.
• Live or real time reporting.
• Zephyr has Test Management solutions that fit the needs of SMB to Enterprise and very large
Enterprise teams.

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