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Today’s software development market is a highly competitive environment where quality is not enough to achieve results. Speed matters no less, as businesses need to quickly get new contracts and deliver new functionalities to grow. This trend has given a burst to Agile and Agile-like development models used by 87 percent of companies and DevOps practices followed by 36 percent. These models wouldn’t have become that popular if it hadn’t been for a testing strategy that met the requirements of quality software delivery at speed. Fifty-five percent of enterprises have already adopted a continuous testing approach, while the rest are planning to do so.
What is a continuous testing strategy and an automated testing strategy?
A strategy that integrates test execution into the software delivery pipeline is called a continuous testing strategy. Its motto is simple: “Stay aware of what software quality is right now.” It sounds like a mindfulness exercise, doesn’t it? Continuous testing is a truly mindful and conscious approach that ensures fast feedback on code fails. Automation plays no small part in this process.
It’s just logical to assume that whenever you need to do something quickly and with a particular regularity, you should automate it. Therefore, testing automation comes to mind first when we think of agility. Meanwhile, some aspects go beyond the focus of an automated testing strategy, for instance, non-functional requirements such as performance, security, and compliance. This makes companies concerned about the release quality.
With a continuous approach, such concerns are easily eliminated. We already know that the overall production quality improves once you implement security into every stage of a software development pipeline. Just like this, continuous testing ensures business priorities are met throughout the flow. It considers such factors as user feedback, product roadmap, and business risks. This is achieved through the combination of automated testing strategy and manual tests.
To measure the effectiveness of a continuous testing strategy, organizations rely on the following data:
Effective continuous testing is based on several principles. By following them, you will be able to ensure speed, volume, and quality.
Principles to follow while implementing a continuous testing strategy
1. Estimate risks and set priorities
In the end, the goal of software testing is securing business outcomes. The power of the continuous approach is that it is aligned with this goal from the very beginning. It’s not about preventing bugs. It ensures nothing stands in the way of building streamlined workflows for development teams and users. And risk analysis is the very foundation of building an effective strategy.
Risk consists of organizational and user perspectives. As for the former, it comes from the market itself.
- What product features are expected to become its competitive advantages?
- What is the stage of the product life cycle?
- Is it crucial to speed up a go-to-market strategy or focus on customer retention?
Answers to these questions form a product roadmap that needs to be aligned with the testing strategy. This helps prioritize which software components should be tested first and with doubled accuracy.
User risks are focused on use cases and the most common application workflows. They define test coverage since addressing these risks is the key to satisfactory customer experience and retention. This is how a continuous approach contributes to the long-term business strategy.
2. Optimize test scope
Understanding priorities will help you focus on the most critical user workflows. This will clarify what functionalities to focus on, what areas of a product should be tested first, what bug types you are interested in, and what components or features should not be tested by any means.
The next stage is writing test cases. It’s crucial to define the expected result for each test case and outline clear steps to achieving it. At the same time, cases should be maintainable since the requirements may change, and a QA engineer will have to make adjustments.
Only when test scope and cases are defined can you proceed with building infrastructure and automation testing strategy.
3. Set up a testing infrastructure
To follow the motto “stay aware of what software quality is right now,” it’s advisable to build a versioned source control system. It keeps track of changes made in the codebase, while the continuous build system runs tests after every code submission. Once there’s a failed test, the team gets an alert.
This flow combines shift left and shift right practices, encouraging tests throughout the entire software delivery life cycle. The goal is to find and solve defects as early as possible. Consequently, developers should prioritize fixing the defective code putting on hold any other tasks, and there are several reasons for this:
- It secures release cadences (cycles, sprints, or iteration) and allows stakeholders to stay on the same page with the team.
- It takes less time and effort for developers to fix a problem at an early stage of a project.
- Teams become more prepared for emergency release requests. They can present a working code at each development stage without having to rush a testing process at the last minute.
Consistent testing infrastructure guarantees both stability and agility while saving operational costs.
Pros and cons of outsourcing your continuous testing
The scope of testing varies depending on the project. Therefore, building large QA teams in-house is not always cost-efficient. While outsourcing gives you the freedom to scale testing resources up or down at any point.
The other benefit is quality and speed. Sixty-two percent of decision makers in the software development industry struggle to find skillful professionals for building a continuous testing strategy. Meanwhile, outsourced teams have experience working with various projects, which makes them more prepared for handling challenges of any kind. As dedicated professionals, they have more technical resources at hand. All of this helps such teams deploy iterations faster and increase the overall project performance.
On the other hand, you may consider building a next-gen testing culture inside your own team, especially if you have ambitious employees who are ready to learn and evolve. In such a case, IT outsourcing is a perfect chance for them to gain new knowledge working side by side with external professionals. The experience of the remote team combined with the passion of your in-house specialists will help to build a strategy that will perfectly match your business priorities.
The other thing is that the continuous approach implies close collaboration between development and operational teams. Consequently, if testing is outsourced, internal processes require more organizational effort and precise planning. Therefore, it’s better to involve reliable teams who are experienced enough to integrate smoothly into the existing workflows and stay flexible during the project.
Today’s companies don’t rely solely on automated testing strategy as it doesn’t always meet business expectations. Continuous testing becomes an integral part of a continuous delivery pipeline. This is the approach that guarantees both quality and speed. As a result, release cycles become shorter, saving the costs invested in development.