Aug 25, 2023 JIN
Boosting Agility and Speed: Test Automation in Agile and DevOps
In the traditional Waterfall Model of software development, software testing was typically performed toward the end of the software development life cycle (SDLC). This approach often led to the discovery of numerous outrageous bugs, causing horrendous procrastination in the release timeline. That is the main reason why the waiting-until-the-end testing approach no longer holds up in the current landscape where Agile and DevOps methodologies are prevalent.
Under the Shift-left approach, testing begins as early as the first stage of the code development phase, working in conjunction with the development process. This integrated approach aligns with the Continuous Integration (CI) / Continuous Delivery (CD) method, allowing testing to be carried out simultaneously with development.
While this parallel testing and development process might be able to meet all the requirements of CI, CD, and Continuous Testing (CT) in DevOps, organizations still face challenges in Software Quality Assurance (SQA), particularly when it comes to the struggle in delivery within the restricted time constraints as well as the manual testing workload for diverse applications.
In such circumstances, organizations often turn to the robust and well-integrated test automation solution, which helps to predict and simulate real-life business scenarios. Coping with a proper test automation strategy in an Agile & DevOps environment and a well-defined test automation framework speeds up the delivery of high-quality software much faster.
Automation Testing in Agile and DevOps
We have briefly discussed the topic of automation in testing in our previous blog, Automation Testing In Agile Software Development. If Agile focuses on releasing the software, DevOps is all about speed. In a DevOps model, the product development and operations teams have to work closely together; sometimes, all merge into a team throughout the SDLC. For DevOps to work, a shift in mindset is fundamental to optimize both products’ productivity and operational efficiency. The team steps up to do beyond their roles or titles, putting themselves in the customers’ mindset to cater to their needs. For this reason, DevOps relies heavily on automation testing, just as Agile does, to achieve the highest flexibility and code reliability at a rapid velocity.
By embracing test automation as the secret booster in Agile & DevOps methodologies, businesses can be able to innovate at a much faster pace, reduce all the monotonous and repetitive tasks, eventually cutting the expenses regarding carrying out these tasks manually, facilitating the production workflow, tighter the feedback loops and iteration product cycles.
3 Values of Automated Testing in Agile and DevOps
#1 Accelerated Testing and Time-to-Market
In reality, automation testing starts from day one of software development. It enables continuous coding actions. Once a piece of code is completed and pushed through, it has to pass the tests, verifying each line of newly created code is bug-free and does not interfere or conflict with the existing ones before officially adding it into the development. All these are done automatically, parallelly with other steps simultaneously, shortening time-to-market.
#2 Software Quality Enhancement
Cutting off redundant tests equals sufficient collaboration among team members and across other teams, helping the development process to stay transparent inside and out, all thanks to the implementation of automation testing. Meanwhile, by automatically removing all the barriers during the process and the unnecessary conflicts, the team can produce consistent outcomes and predictable consequences to scale up production and commit to delivering excellent quality product compliance with requirements that truly make customers happy.
#3: Reduced QA Costs
The modern world has unintentionally brought the bar of customers’ expectations towards the quality of software, applications, and IT products quite high and gradually getting higher over the years. That triggers the QA testing cost to rocket to warrant the final products are clean, error-free, and seamless.
Software testing automation integrated at the beginning of the SDLC that runs under the Agile & DevOps model helps monitor and alert any undesired defects, broken code, or failure results as soon as a line of code is committed. The team can devise a solution to resolve these issues immediately, keeping the development progress moving forward confidently. This helps reduce the high QA costs in the long run compared to the old days when the Waterfall model was still a thing. Testing was done at the end of the SDLC cycle, where bugs often become too challenging to debug as it would heavily affect other software components. To a certain extent, the team has to co-exist with the bug’s existence and deal with it as time passes; the expenses and costs of having this constant fixing again are unpredictable and unpleasant.
Can manual testing co-exist with Agile and DevOps?
Agile and DevOps methodologies prioritize automated testing to maintain their fast-paced and efficient workflows. However, there are situations where manual testing remains relevant and cannot be entirely replaced by automation.
One such scenario is exploratory testing, which allows testers to deviate from predefined test cases and explore the software system. This approach relies on human intuition and creativity to uncover hidden vulnerabilities and unique edge cases that automated tests may overlook.
Another instance is ad-hoc testing, where QA specialists conduct random checks and employ non-standard testing methods to identify flaws in the application. This approach doesn’t require testers to follow a strict plan or record extensive documentation, allowing them to quickly adapt and react to the circumstances.
While automated testing is essential for achieving continuous integration, continuous delivery, and continuous testing in Agile and DevOps, manual testing brings a human perspective and intuition to the process. It can uncover issues that automated tests may not be able to address and provide valuable insights into user experience and usability.
Therefore, instead of completely replacing manual testing, organizations adopting Agile and DevOps should find the right balance between automated and manual testing approaches. This ensures comprehensive test coverage, efficient bug detection, and a high-quality end product.
Implementing Test Automation in Agile and DevOps: 3 tips to follow
Tip #1: Select the right tools
The market offers a wide range of test automation tools, including free, open-source options and commercial and customized solutions. Choosing the wrong tool can negatively affect QA processes, leading to extensive testing time, expenses, or even the confrontation of SDLC restart.
Tip #2: Onboard experts with the necessary skill set
Within Agile and DevOps, QA experts collaborate closely with developers, managers, and product owners in activities such as retrospectives, iteration planning, and sprint reviews. Proficiency in communication and reporting is crucial to establish strong interaction among project members and quickly adapt to changes and updates.
Tip #3: Avoid excessive test automation
While test automation plays a significant role in Agile and DevOps environments, it should not be overly done. Certain types of tests, such as exploratory and ad-hoc testing, cannot be automated completely, or whenever one-time tasks arise, manual testing is often the go-to, faster, and more cost-effective approach.
Before deciding to apply automated testing, go through the following questions to find your answer: How frequently will these checks be performed? How much effort is required for automation? Will it result in cost savings for QA? Test automation is valuable if tests are repeatable, monotonous, and time-consuming.
Striking a balance between automated and manual testing ensures efficient and effective testing practices within Agile and DevOps, optimizing time and resources.
The big picture
To maintain the prompt delivery and flexibility inherent, test automation takes the central stage in Agile and DevOps models. It shortens the testing timelines, improves the overall software quality, and reduces QA costs significantly. However, manual testing still has its irreplaceable value and works hand in hand with automation testing, such as one-time testing, exploratory testing, and ad-hoc tests.
Although automation testing can be challenging to anyone who starts with software quality assurance, need a helping hand? Contact the SHIFT ASIA team; we’ll have your back in the software test automation services alone and in refining your software development.
Boosting Agility and Speed: Test Automation in Agile and DevOps
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