Testing is a critical and indispensable requirement in the software delivery process. However, Testing remains a bottleneck as it fails to keep up with today’s fast-paced development methodologies like the Agile and Continuous Delivery. Test Automation is the best approach to enable Continuous Delivery.
But, Test Automation done with legacy tools and test processes to meet the increased complexity and pace of modern application development and Continuous Delivery are unsatisfactory.
Age old test methods and tools can impact the delivery speed and quality which in turn affects the cost of software development.
Data from the World Quality Report indicate the need to increase the level of test automation. The test process and tools currently in use are not sufficient to test an application early on, repeatedly and automatically.
With the current application delivery needs, one cannot wait until the end of the Software Release Cycle to get started with testing.
There would not be months or weeks to test but merely a few hours.
Setting up the Test Automation eco-system itself takes up a lot of time.
It is not sufficient to run through Testing just before product delivery. It is necessary to attend to the changes being made to the software at the earliest best, in parallel, with Development.
A fully automated testing process has to be a part of the SDLC. If Testing is done beforehand, application flaws become evident as they are executed. Hence, its access to further stages of the development process can be prevented.
The sooner they appear, the better. It is easier to fix them with a less number of resources in a reduced time as opposed to its appearance at the final stages of the product delivery cycle.
Hence Continuous Testing.
Continuous Testing aims to cut down the testing time in the delivery pipeline and still achieve quality.
It extends the test automation process to address the complexity involved and to keep up with the pace of today’s continuous delivery needs.
Continuous Testing is the process of executing automated tests as part of the software delivery pipeline.
Continuous Testing help decide whether the release candidate is okay or too risky to be delivered while providing fast repetitive feedback associated with each release candidate.
This determines if the software is ready to enter the delivery pipeline. Each build committed by the developers is Continuously Integrated to find possible business risks at a very early stage.
To achieve Continuous Testing, automated testing must be integrated at the initial stages of the development cycle and not when the product is fully developed.
Key Elements to consider in Test Automation to enable Continuous Testing
Test Automation is imperative to achieving Continuous Testing along with equally important elements like the test process, team, culture change, etc.
Some of the key enablers for Continuous Testing include:
1. Shift Left Approach
Test Automation should not wait until the product is fully developed.
For this, the framework and automated testing tools should allow for writing automated tests alongside the development process.
The Shift Left approach in Test Automation ensures just this. Also, it should allow for automating various components such as back-end APIs and other micro services, testing each layer in parallel as and when they are ready for the continuous delivery pipeline.
2. Faster Feedback Time
Running each test over and again is time-consuming. It is impractical to run complete regression tests on each build every time.
Test Automation tools should be capable of executing different tests simultaneously and automatically on each build across multiple test environments providing faster feedback.
As an application changes, Test Automation tools and framework should allow the right set of tests that are interrelated to be executed at the right stage in the delivery pipeline.
This allows for faster feedback with appropriate action steps to be taken in order to ensure a smooth user experience. Executing multiple tests one after the other across different environments would be laborious, otherwise.
It is highly important to understand the requirements of stakeholders and ensure those requirements are met. Managing requirements throughout the project lifecycle is a continuous process in the lookout for changes made in each stage, automatically.
It is necessary to integrate Test Automation tools with additional ALM tools to manage requirements associated with a particular version of an application, to track changes, to communicate and handle the Requirements throughout the testing process.
4. Test Prioritization
It enables developers to test smarter if tests are prioritized, re-executing only the affected ones based on the impact of change.
If Regression testing is done early on, there would be a delay in providing feedback, unlike Smoke Test. What tests would run best at what stage is an important factor to consider.
Test Automation tools and its underlying framework should be good enough to manage this, reducing the time and the number of tests by choosing the right tests for execution at the right stage while achieving the same risk coverage.
5. Team Collaboration
It is necessary to make sure that we get clear requirements before development starts.
The QA team should build a close relationship with Business Analysts and Developers to communicate the ambiguity in user stories. It would be a good idea to have a common platform to discuss, debate and assess the business goals for better clarity.
Test Automation tools should have a collaboration platform or means to integrate with such tools say, Slack. It would be an added advantage if it allows all of the team members for applying these changes automatically to automated tests.
6. Low Maintenance
Automated GUI tests undergo frequent changes and need sizeable rework every time.
With Agile and DevOps practices in place, there is need to extend Test Automation efforts which lead to heavy maintenance needs.
Through Continuous Testing, a low maintenance and need for less or no rework are aimed at. Test Automation tools and framework need to be good enough to maintain tests with hardly any effort, continuously.
7. Test Environment
There should be access to realistic test environments to run tests concurrently in a continuous manner anytime, anywhere.
A stable Test environment with valid test data sets should be available to run tests automatically throughout the delivery pipeline.
Inaccessible dependencies, poor test data management can cause timeouts and occurrence of false positives that provide inaccurate results.
Access to real-world testing environments become necessary to allow frequent test runs and this way, cut down the time to set up the test environment.
8. Risk Assessment
It is not just about achieving automated test results but analyzing the business risk involved.
Continuous Testing must assess the business risk associated with an application at any point in real-time providing risk-based feedback to help make better trade-off decisions.
9. Continuous Integration
Automation Testing should be integrated with Continuous Integration tools to run automatically once the build is ready.
All testing has to be part of the pipeline, which means that automation testers have to be familiar with tools such as Maven, Nexus, and Jenkins to name some.
It is necessary to identify the right tests to run automatically on every build and if a test may fail, the results have to be integrated back into the pipeline triggering a failed build.
Companies embracing Continuous Testing consider Testing a continuous activity that does not begin prior to release.
A SaaS, AI-Driven test automation software, Testsigma is built to address all of these continuous testing requirements.
Testsigma aims to achieve Continuous Testing with a Shift-left approach to help web and mobile dependent businesses to reduce the cost involved in ensuring the quality of software while continuously releasing quality software products faster.
Testsigma uses AI to build stable and reliable tests faster and speed-up the execution and maintenance of automated tests and requires near-zero initial setup time, cost and ramp up time.
The AI features suggest improvements in test plans to include relevant or affected test cases, uses dynamic locator strategy to save maintenance time and efforts by 70%.
Its sheer simplicity enables anyone write automated tests 5X faster using natural language, run tests on thousands of devices available on the cloud.
The Bottom Line
“ The most powerful tool we have as developers is Automation”
Test Automation is the best approach to Testing and this is an undisputed fact. But how do we ensure timely deliverance of quality software?
The need of the hour is a transformation of automated test processes to keep up with the advancements in ensuring continuous delivery of the product. It is time we stopped relying on less efficient scripts.
Test Automation indicates whether a particular requirement is met or not whereas Continuous Testing curbs business risks. Both are important and should go hand in hand.
Today, Testing is not just an afterthought. Continuous Testing has emerged to match the Agile and Continuous Delivery standards. It is a systematic approach towards improvement.
One needs to perform test automation in a way that suits today’s complex application and continuous delivery needs.
We must advance towards Continuous Testing as it has rightly become a necessity in the fast-paced application development lifecycle to deliver faster without compromising on quality.