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Exclusive: ‘QA is finally viewed as an investment’, says PSECU’s Shannon Vincent

Pennsylvania-based Shannon Vincent
Pennsylvania-based Shannon Vincent

At the recent QA Financial Forum is New York City, one of the key speakers was Shannon Vincent, quality assurance manager at the Pennsylvania State Employee Credit Union (PSECU).

Vincent discussed how her employer, which manages more than $7.5 billion in assets, created a quality assurance function from scratch in 2017, in line with its strategy of digital-first banking.

Together with her colleague Debbie Houser, Vincent took a deep dive into digital testing, and how accessibility requirements are embedded in code management at PSECU.

Following the conference, QA Financial caught up with the industry insider who has a diverse background spanning various facets of technology.

Vincent’s journey encompasses roles holding a Certified Scrum Master Certification and Project Management responsibilities, emphasizing the pivotal role of testing across the project management lifecycle.

Leading initiatives within the QA domain, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania-based Vincent manages and leads efforts in digital, automation, accessibility, and performance testing, championing excellence in software quality assurance.

QA Financial: Thank you for your time to sit down with us. You bring over a decade of IT expertise to the table with a specialization in QA. What has been the biggest change during that decade, would you say?

Shannon Vincent: The evolution of Quality Assurance over the past decade reflects a significant shift towards recognizing its pivotal role in ensuring product quality, customer satisfaction, and overall business success. PSECU’s journey from having just one dedicated testing resource to establishing a full department focused on quality showcases this transformation, signaling the organization’s acknowledgment of QA’s value in delivering reliable, high-quality products and services to its members.

This expansion underscores a broader industry trend where companies are increasingly investing in QA to enhance their development processes and improve product quality. In today’s tech-driven landscape, characterized by escalating consumer expectations and ever-evolving technologies, having a structured QA process in place is indispensable for mitigating risks and maintaining competitiveness.

“The evolution of QA represents a fundamental shift in how companies approach product development, with a growing recognition of the integral role QA plays.”

– Shannon Vincent

As technology continues to advance, the role of QA is poised to become even more critical. With the increase of complex systems and the heightened importance of data security and privacy, QA professionals play a vital role in ensuring that products and services meet the highest standards of performance, reliability, and security. By proactively identifying and addressing potential issues, QA teams contribute not only to the success of individual projects but also to the long-term reputation and trustworthiness of the organization.

In essence, the evolution of QA represents a fundamental shift in how companies approach product development, with a growing recognition of the integral role QA plays in driving innovation, minimizing risks, and delivering exceptional customer experiences. As businesses continue to navigate an increasingly competitive and fast-paced market, investing in QA will remain a cornerstone of success in delivering quality products and services that meet the needs and expectations of today’s discerning consumers.

QA Financial: In your daily job, what are some of the biggest challenges you and your team are facing?

Shannon Vincent: One of the key dilemmas facing our team is striking the right balance between insufficient testing and excessive testing. We grapple with questions surrounding risk-based testing, striving for efficiency while ensuring the delivery of a robust product. As QA professionals, thoroughness and comprehensive coverage are paramount to us. However, determining when we’ve conducted enough testing to proceed to the next priority poses a persistent challenge.

To address this challenge, we frequently leverage automated regression test cases to complement our manual testing efforts. This approach ensures redundancy in testing methodologies, mitigating the risk of overlooking certain areas if one method falls short.

QA Financial: There is a lot of focus on automated testing, powered by AI. Is that where we will eventually head to?

Shannon Vincent: I do believe we are headed in that direction, but not as rapidly as others believe it to be. Automated testing powered by AI holds significant promise for improving efficiency and accuracy in software development, there are indeed concerns around security and reliability. Trust in AI-driven testing solutions may take time to build, especially considering the potential risks associated with relying solely on automated processes.

“Human testers bring critical thinking, intuition, and domain knowledge to the table.”

– Shannon Vincent

Integrating AI into testing processes needs to be a collaborative effort between AI systems and human testers. Human oversight is critical for validating results, ensuring the quality of test cases, and addressing any unforeseen issues that AI may not be able to detect.

QA Financial: Do you think human testers will ever become obsolete?

Shannon Vincent: Absolutely not. While AI-powered testing is becoming more prevalent, I am very confident in saying it will not fully replace manual or traditional automated testing methods. Human testers bring critical thinking, intuition, and domain knowledge to the table, which are essential for certain aspects of testing, such as exploratory testing and usability testing. Using the collaboration of both manual testing and AI can help increase efficiency, reduce costs, and improve existing testing practices. AI is not about replacing humans, more so about using the strengths of both human expertise and AI capabilities to create the best QA experience.

QA Financial: There is still a lot of uncertainty around the quality of AI testing, and how AI apps can get tested. There are no uniform standards, for example. What do you think?

Shannon Vincent: Embracing new tools and technologies like AI in the field of testing can lead to significant improvements in quality assurance processes. AI has the potential to automate repetitive tasks, identify patterns in data that humans might miss, and even predict potential issues before they arise.

While it’s true that there are still uncertainties and challenges in implementing AI in testing, including the lack of standardized processes and methodologies, the continuous evolution and maturation of AI technologies offer promising solutions. As AI tools become more sophisticated and reliable, they can help address these concerns by providing more robust and standardized approaches to testing.

The adoption of AI in testing can also lead to increased efficiency, cost savings, and ultimately better-quality products. By leveraging AI-driven testing tools, teams can streamline their testing processes, reduce manual effort, and focus more on higher-value tasks such as analyzing results and improving overall product quality. Overall, now that AI is here, I do not see it leaving us anytime soon.

QA Financial: Finally, is there anything else you would like to share with QA Financial readers?

Shannon Vincent: QA is finally being viewed as an investment and not an expense. The next decade will be extremely important in defining what true QA means in the context of rapidly evolving technologies and methodologies. Organizations that invest in building robust QA processes and embracing technological advancements will gain a competitive edge by delivering high-quality products that meet the evolving needs and expectations of users. I am looking forward to continuing to grow with the rest of my QA peers throughout this journey!


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