To be competitive in the age of agile and continuous delivery, enterprises must create robust applications that provide compelling and intuitive user experiences. To complicate matters even more, those applications must encapsulate the business goals of the organizations.
As test managers and development teams increasingly depend on automated testing as a crucial part of their development lifecycle, they also must contend with this reality—more tests to manage and more test results to interpret. New best practices are needed to manage test tools, interpret results, and ensure testing is a seamless part of the release process.
The key ingredient of these best practices is using tools that run automated tests in order to get vital feedback as quickly as possible. These testing tools must enable developers and operations people to manage and execute all the results of the automated tests.
Typically, multiple tools will be in play together—some for functionality, others for performance, still others for security, and so on. All results need to be analyzed and monitored in order to make efficient, real-time decisions that accelerate go-live positions.
The bottom-line imperatives for these testing tools are they must allow DevOps people to visualize and analyze all the test results, and they must integrate with various continuous integration tools.
Only by meshing tightly with continuous integration and delivery tools can testing provide insight to a variety of stakeholders, notably development managers, release managers, business managers, and, last but never least, developers. All these people need to be able to easily access snapshots of individual test results as well as drill-down information.
Key Benefits of Test Automation
To maximize the efficiencies of test automation, enterprises need to focus on the basics, and nothing is more basic than the first principle of the agile manifesto: “Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through the early and continuous delivery of valuable software.” To me, that says it all. The customer is king, so the enterprise must keep the king happy with better, faster services.
Rather than optimizing code and development features, I believe it is more important to get new software into production as quickly as possible. To achieve that goal, enterprises must use automated and rigorous testing. That means all the steps in the software development process—from creation to deployment—should be automated.
Better software is one of the two main benefits of automated testing; the other is faster time to market. Instant feedback enables DevOps people to change and improve quality very quickly. The longer they wait for failure, the more costly it is. It’s important to fail fast, because then you have enough time to fix problems.
Moving from the Old Way of Testing to the New
Today, many enterprises employ some form of automated testing, but too often they still leave a lot of their testing (notably integration testing, regression testing, and user acceptance) until those last hectic moments when the entire team is sprinting to take an application from development to deployment. Some organizations even have a separate user acceptance testing phase in the sprint phase that inevitably delays deployment to production even more.
A better approach is to incorporate acceptance-driven testing into the very first stages of software development and to maintain it throughout the process.
Automated testing makes this objective a snap. DevOps and business people can simply specify the acceptance criteria they want, and technology will take care of the rest. The criteria can be spelled out in plain text and in directly executable code. The plain text will be interpreted by a tester, who will perform the test and write a test report.
When the business and development teams collaborate closely in this way, the development team can run automated tests from the start. This results in less wasteful interactions toward the end of the software cycle—as well as the benefit of doing ten comprehensive tests a day. Or why not twenty?
In many different ways, most enterprises have embarked or are embarking on this journey of automated testing of software. The trend is unstoppable.
The Future of Software Engineering
Automated testing of software development is crucial to the future of enterprises, for very solid reasons. Automation delivers accuracy, efficiency, and real-time feedback, virtually eliminates waste, and, ultimately, creates better software.
The more testing enterprises do, the better they will be able to determine whether a new deliverable is superior to what is currently running.