How to Use Test Observability to Improve Test Orchestration and Coordination

Ilam Padmanabhan

Posted On: July 5, 2023

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Effective test orchestration and coordination are becoming increasingly important in modern software development. With teams dispersed around the globe and multiple projects in development, it is essential to have a streamlined system that allows for collaborative problem-solving. Test observability provides an efficient and reliable way of bringing multiple teams together to ensure consistent quality and reliability.

This blog post will explore the concept of test observability, looking at its key benefits and how it can help improve test orchestration and coordination. From improved collaboration to better communication, we will discuss how test observability revolutionizes how teams approach and work together on projects. We’ll also look at how it is making the process of test orchestration and coordination faster, smoother, and more effective overall.

Leveraging Test Observability for Improved Test Orchestration

(The overlaps in the benefits outlined in this section are deliberate – one improvement in one area of the ecosystem has a knock-on effect on multiple other related threads of work).

Test Case Management

Test observability enables teams to manage test cases more effectively by providing real-time visibility into their execution. By tracking test progress and results, teams can identify and address bottlenecks promptly.

Comprehensive test observability also facilitates collaboration among team members, allowing them to share insights, identify impediments & dependencies, and prioritize testing efforts. Tools such as test management platforms, integrated with observability features, can help streamline test case management and enable efficient coordination.

Resource Allocation and Optimization

Test observability empowers teams to optimize resource allocation by monitoring test environments, infrastructure, and test data availability. With visibility into resource usage and performance metrics, teams can proactively identify and resolve bottlenecks, ensuring smooth test execution. By leveraging observability insights, teams can allocate resources more efficiently, reducing idle time and improving overall testing efficiency.

Collaboration and communication between testers

Real-time insights provided by test observability foster collaboration and communication among team members. By sharing a common view of test execution, teams can collaborate more effectively, coordinate efforts, and resolve issues efficiently. Test observability enables better communication by providing visibility into the progress, results, and any blockers encountered during testing. Collaboration tools integrated with observability features, such as real-time dashboards and shared analytics, enhance team coordination and enable prompt decision-making.

Streamlining Communication and Data Retrieval

Effective communication is the lifeblood of successful software development. However, in many workplaces, much time is spent on unnecessary discussions, data digging, and waiting for updates. These communication inefficiencies can lead to invisible expenses and hinder the speed of product delivery. This is where the power of test observability comes into play, revolutionizing communication by letting the data do the talking.

The beauty of test observability lies in its ability to enhance communication by letting the data do the talking.

Time Spent on Communication

In traditional development environments, a substantial portion of time is dedicated to communication-related activities such as meetings, coordination efforts, and clarifying requirements. These activities often involve multiple stakeholders, leading to delays and increased development costs. However, with test observability, communication becomes more efficient and focused.

By leveraging test observability, teams gain access to real-time insights and metrics that provide a clear picture of the system under test. This enables them to make data-driven decisions, reducing the need for extensive discussions and unnecessary coordination efforts. Consequently, the time spent on communication is optimized, allowing teams to allocate more time and resources to actual development activities. This streamlined communication process not only improves efficiency but also accelerates product delivery.

Data Digging

In traditional testing practices, one of the major time-consuming activities is digging through data to gather relevant information. Testers often find themselves sifting through logs, error messages, and other sources to uncover insights about the system’s behavior. This manual data retrieval process can be tedious and prone to errors, leading to delays in identifying and resolving issues.

Test observability addresses this challenge by providing immediate access to essential data. Real-time metrics, logs, and visual reporting empower testers with comprehensive information about system performance, errors, and anomalies. This eliminates the need for extensive data digging, as relevant data is readily available for analysis. By reducing the time spent on data retrieval, test observability allows testers to focus more on analyzing and resolving issues, significantly improving the efficiency of the testing process.

Waiting for Updates

In software development, delays often occur when team members wait for updates from various stakeholders. This waiting time is usually filled with frustration and context switching, reducing morale and productivity. Test observability has the potential to overcome this challenge by enhancing collaboration between stakeholders.

Using test observability, teams can easily share key metrics and performance insights with other stakeholders, encouraging better communication and decision-making. This eliminates the need to wait for updates from multiple sources, saving time and reducing frustration. By streamlining communication and allowing teams to collaborate more effectively, test observability accelerates product delivery and enhances the overall developer experience.

In the realm of test observability, data becomes the language that bridges the communication gap in software development.

By optimizing communication, streamlining data retrieval, and providing real-time updates, test observability enhances collaboration and coordination among team members. The focus shifts from time-consuming discussions and data digging to leveraging data-driven insights for faster and more effective decision-making. In the next section, we will explore how test observability improves test orchestration and coordination, driving further enhancements in the software development process.

Analyzing Defects / Issues – A Thought Experiment

To illustrate the impact of test observability on communication and collaboration, let’s compare two versions of a defect scenario and examine the perspectives of both testers and developers. This analysis will highlight how test observability, through detailed information and comprehensive data, enhances understanding, reduces ambiguity, and streamlines communication.

Version 1: The call failed from layer A to B. Error screenshot attached.

The tester provides minimal information about the defect. With just a brief description and an attached error screenshot, the level of understanding and context for both the tester and the developer is limited. The tester may need a more comprehensive grasp of the underlying cause, and the developer is left to make assumptions or perform additional investigations to gain a clearer understanding of the issue. As a result, the bug report may lack crucial details, leading to potential misinterpretations or incomplete analysis by the developer.

From the tester’s perspective:

  • Understanding the bug: The tester’s comprehension of the bug is restricted due to the lack of detailed information.
  • Confidence in assessment: Without sufficient context, the tester may have doubts or uncertainties regarding the bug report’s accuracy and completeness.
  • Time spent on bug reporting: The tester may spend additional time communicating with the developer, providing clarifications, or gathering more information to ensure a comprehensive bug report.

From the developer’s perspective:

  • Understanding the bug: The developer’s understanding of the bug is limited, relying primarily on the provided error screenshot, which may not provide sufficient insights into the underlying issue.
  • Initial analysis and comprehension: The developer may need to invest more time and effort in analyzing the problem, consulting other resources, or seeking additional clarifications from the tester to comprehend the defect fully.
  • Delayed response or follow-up: The lack of detailed information may delay addressing the bug or necessitate further communication with the tester to gather missing details.

Version 2: The call failed from layer A to B, with an error code XYZ. The traces indicate a timeout due to XYZ DB failing to respond within the threshold of XYZ seconds allocated for this call. Error screenshots/data dumps + logs are attached.

Here, the tester provides a comprehensive account of the defect. They not only mention the failure but also include relevant details such as the specific error code, traces indicating a timeout, and attached error screenshots, data dumps, and logs. This rich set of information empowers both the tester and the developer with a deeper understanding of the issue, allowing for more accurate bug reporting and faster comprehension.

Test observability acts as a translator, converting the silent whispers of data into a compelling narrative that speaks volumes to developers and stakeholders alike.

From the tester’s perspective:

  • Understanding the bug: The tester has a clearer understanding of the bug thanks to the detailed information provided. Including error codes, traces, and additional artifacts offer valuable insights into the underlying cause.
  • Confidence in assessment: The tester is more confident in their bug report, as comprehensive data and evidence support it.
  • Time spent on bug reporting: With all the necessary details readily available, the tester can efficiently raise the bug without needing prolonged discussions or additional context gathering.

From the developer’s perspective:

  • Understanding the bug: The developer can quickly grasp the nature of the defect, aided by the detailed information provided. They have access to error codes, traces, and additional artifacts, enabling a comprehensive understanding of the issue.
  • Initial analysis and comprehension: Armed with the complete information set, the developer can expedite the initial analysis, focusing on addressing the problem rather than seeking further clarification.
  • Streamlined resolution process: The availability of comprehensive data reduces the need for back-and-forth communication, allowing the developer to promptly address the bug, potentially saving significant time and effort.
  • A hidden but significant benefit is that – the developer begins to respect the tester’s work. Further defects from the tester are swiftly addressed as rapport based on mutual respect is built.

You do not need a summary for this section to be convinced that implementing enhanced test observability significantly benefits the collaboration between testers & developers.

The Impact of Test Observability on Organizations:

Engineering Culture:

In the realm of software development, fostering an efficient and focused engineering culture is crucial to achieving productivity and delivering high-quality products. Test observability significantly shapes such a culture by promoting streamlined and meaningful conversations among team members.

  1. Efficient and Focused Conversations: By providing comprehensive data and insights, test observability eliminates the need for excessive and time-consuming conversations. Testers, developers, and infrastructure engineers can directly delve into the core issues without engaging in lengthy and unproductive discussions. This saves valuable time and demonstrates respect for each team member’s workload and priorities.
  2. Shared Understanding of System Architecture: Test observability encourages the entire engineering team to develop a deeper understanding of the system’s architecture. With access to real-time feedback and visibility into system behavior, team members gain insights into how different components interact and affect one another. Over time, this shared understanding leads to better-informed decision-making and the ability to anticipate and prevent potential issues.
  3. Improved Prioritization of Technical Debt: One challenge organizations face is effectively prioritizing technical debt. Explaining the importance of strengthening infrastructure to non-technical stakeholders can be challenging without visual tools or data-driven insights. Test observability provides tangible evidence of the impact of infrastructure weaknesses on the overall system and customer experience. By demonstrating, for example, how a failure at the database layer affects the user interface, teams can effectively communicate the need to address specific technical debt, enabling better decision-making and resource allocation.

Quality of QA

The quality of testing directly influences the overall quality of software products. Test observability positively impacts the quality of QA by enabling comprehensive tests and more accurate defect reports.

  1. Thorough Root Cause Analysis: With access to detailed metrics, logs, and visual reporting, test observability empowers testers to conduct thorough root cause analysis. They can identify the underlying causes of defects, enabling developers to address issues promptly and effectively. This in-depth analysis enhances the quality of defect reports, providing developers with the necessary information to efficiently understand and resolve the problem.
  2. Enhanced Defect Resolution: Test observability ensures that defects are reported accurately and comprehensively. Testers can provide developers with detailed information about the defect, including relevant data dumps, error logs, and error codes. This level of detail eliminates guesswork and reduces back-and-forth communication between testers and developers. As a result, developers can focus on addressing the issue promptly, leading to faster defect resolution and improved product quality.

Collaboration and Team Dynamics

Successful software development relies on effective collaboration and positive team dynamics. Test observability enriches day-to-day collaboration between key engineering team members and stakeholders, resulting in cost-effective and efficient product development.

  1. High-Quality Day-to-Day Conversations: Test observability promotes high-quality conversations among team members. With accurate and reliable data, discussions can be centered around objective insights rather than subjective opinions. This reduces misunderstandings and ensures that decisions are made based on factual information, improving overall communication and collaboration within the team.
  2. Enriched Collaboration: Test observability facilitates collaboration between testers, developers, and other stakeholders. Real-time feedback on system behavior allows developers to understand the impact of their changes and make informed decisions. By providing visual demonstrations and performance test results, teams can communicate the cause-and-effect relationship between infrastructure improvements and customer experience. This shared understanding aligns the entire team toward the common goal of delivering better products faster.

Test observability, with its data-driven discourse, transcends the boundaries of words, providing a universal language that speaks directly to the heart of software testing

Wrap Up

Effective communication is paramount in software development, yet it often poses significant challenges, leading to increased costs and slower delivery. However, adopting test observability practices presents a solution to some of these communication hurdles. By leveraging test observability, organizations can address the limitations of traditional communication methods and unlock a host of benefits.

Test observability enables teams to optimize their test strategies by providing valuable insights into system performance and data. This enhanced visibility allows quicker issue detection, improved collaboration, and more efficient decision-making. Moreover, it promotes a culture of shared understanding and prioritization of technical debt, facilitating effective communication between technical and non-technical stakeholders.

Organizations must embrace test observability practices to thrive in the competitive software market. By doing so, they can streamline development processes, reduce costs, and deliver products that exceed customer expectations. Embracing test observability is an investment in efficient communication and coordination, paving the way for successful software development endeavors.

Five Key Takeaways from this Post

1. Test observability revolutionizes communication and collaboration in software development by letting data tell the story. It enhances coordination and problem-solving among dispersed teams, ensuring consistent quality and reliability.

2. Test observability streamlines test orchestration by providing real-time visibility into test case execution, enabling teams to identify bottlenecks, collaborate effectively, and prioritize testing efforts.

3. Resource allocation and optimization are improved through test observability by monitoring test environments, infrastructure, and data availability. Teams can proactively identify and resolve bottlenecks, reducing idle time and enhancing overall testing efficiency.

4. Test observability eliminates communication inefficiencies by providing real-time insights and metrics, enabling data-driven decision-making. It reduces time spent on unnecessary discussions, data digging, and waiting for updates, optimizing communication and accelerating product delivery.

5. Test observability enhances collaboration and coordination among testers, developers, and stakeholders. Real-time insights, shared analytics, and improved communication channels foster better understanding, efficient issue resolution, and mutual respect, resulting in streamlined development processes and high-quality products.

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Ilam Padmanabhan

Ilam Padmanabhan is a seasoned Tech/Financial services expert with a history of delivering multi-million dollar global projects in various Delivery and QA roles. He frequently authors articles on his personal website where he explores the latest industry trends, cutting-edge technologies, and best practices for thriving in today's rapidly evolving landscape.

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