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How Can Continuous Testing Enable Enterprises To Reimagine Digital User Experiences?
Posted On: March 16, 2023
5 Min Read
What is continuous testing?
This involves automating tests and continually executing them throughout the software development lifecycle. Continually is the key work here.
In the past few years it has been key to a DevOps culture and the term ‘shift left’ testing. In this way in the development lifecycle testing is seen as a task throughout all phases and it is not as it was in the past, which could have been described as being a handoff between teams. This also meant that software quality could be evaluated across the software development life cycle (SDLC), providing critical feedback earlier and enabling high-quality, faster deliveries.
Having set up a DevSecOps team in the past this ideology was key to the culture of the team, it is an integral part of the continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipeline.
I have ensured continuous testing by having our automation suite run on every code change (commit) that is made, these results were then fed on to the development team. This was advantageous, as it meant that we could quickly identify and fix issues, as they say, defects are cheaper when found earlier in the development cycle. The other key advantage to our customers was that defects were less likely to escape.
Over time we saw a pattern emerging, escaped defects were going down and the overall quality of our application was improving.
Another benefit is that the time and cost associated with manual testing are reduced.
Why is it important?
The 8 key reasons why it is key to successful delivery:
- It means a faster time to market, as you can catch defects early, which means you spend less time testing and debugging.
- It increases your software quality.
- Reduces your costs around manual testing.
- Quality is owned by everyone in the team – which ensures a DevOps culture.
- Enables test environments to more closely resemble production environments.
- Better collaboration between developers and testers.
- Increased customer satisfaction, as releases are more reliable.
- Saves developer time and effort as they are no longer waiting for QA teams.
How can it enable enterprises to reimagine digital user experiences?
For me personally, with our app and website continually needing changes to give our customers what they wanted, continuous testing was a key aid in achieving this. It meant that we could deliver new features more quickly and get feedback quicker. For instance, if we were to add a new feature and saw that it had a detrimental impact on the user experience, we could adjust our path quickly via continuous changes.
Given the pace at which we want to release it lends itself to test automation. Without automation, we would be unable to work at pace and manual testing can involve a level of human error. From experience, automation is most useful when it is fast running, reliable, and reusable. Over time it reduces manual testing, which is more error-prone.
In previous blogs I have mentioned ‘shift left testing’, without continuous testing this would not be possible.
Key tests which I focused on when we wanted to release at pace and also ensure that the level of escaped defects had decreased:
- Smoke tests – these tests were automated and were key tests for important user flows in our product. They allowed us to make sure our key tests were working.
- Unit tests – these tests were smaller in scale and were key to getting developers involved in the journey of quality.
Rather than the word reimagine I would describe continuous testing as allowing us to deliver at pace in a more efficient and practical manner.
What should I be careful of when implementing continuous testing?
Some of the key learnings and areas to be wary of are:
a. Test automation selection – this is an area where you should be careful and take your time in devising the approach. Remember that automation should be used for repetitive, time-consuming tasks. In contrast, manual tests are useful for exploratory, user acceptance testing (UAT) – summarised as areas where you need human intelligence.
b. You will need a stable environment to run your tests continually. This was one of our first major obstacles as our environments were always down and they also gave us false negatives. We found that once we fixed our environments our tests were more trustworthy and our deliveries were successful.
c. Understand your business logic. This is key because automating the wrong areas of business logic will add no value.
d. Always have time for test maintenance. Remember your first priority should always be to ensure that your test pack is running and there are no flaky tests. Rather than adding tests, make it your priority to keep your ‘tests in order’. Do not tolerate unreliable tests.
e. There will need to be a level of organizational acceptance of the change. Communication is key here– why are we moving towards this change, what value will it add, and also what do we need to do to ensure success?
f. Your developers should be involved in testing because to move at pace, it is key that there are no handoffs and holes in the process.
If you are looking to really level up your delivery approach and success to your customers, continuous testing is key and it should be at the heart of your digital strategy to ensure success! Give it a go… you will not be disappointed!
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