Testing continuously at multiple stages of the release pipeline supports delivery of high-quality software. Here’s how to pick an automation solution for your Continuous Testing needs.
The primary objective of Continuous Testing is to serve as a feedback engine in a release pipeline to increase speed and improve quality assurance. To achieve this, several aspects of testing – not just the execution of tests – must be performed in a reiterative way, including the production and refinement of automated tests. In this light, test automation works as an enabler, but does not in itself equal Continuous Testing. Learn more about the role of testing in Continuous Delivery.
There are some common hurdles in software testing which makes it difficult to test continuously. These include:
- Testers’ competences are not fully utilized
- The workload of maintaining test cases is holding back QA efforts
- Testers and developers are not able to work as an integrated team
These obstacles limit the efficiency of your feedback loops, and as such, need to be addressed. This requires the right automation solution.
Not all test automation tools are created equal. Some tools enable testing that is more continuous than others. If testers end up spending more time on programming or maintaining test scripts instead of applying their highly specialized domain knowledge to designing test cases, testing won’t be continuous. If the automation tool does not enable easy hand-over of test cases or provide clear debug information; same thing.
Before you swamp yourself with the different options, you should list your requirements and do an initial search to see what testing tool best fits your organization. This way, you will be able to quickly screen out those that don’t make the cut.
Below are five main factors to take into consideration at the beginning of your search for the best Continuous Testing tool:
1. Application types supported
Your choice of automation tool will largely depend on the type of application that is being tested on. Not all testing tools support automation across technologies and systems, so you’ll quickly be able to spot those that won’t support your applications.
2. Integration capabilities
Make sure the platform is easy to integrate with your pipeline. A tool should come with relevant plugins for the most common pipeline orchestrators and/or well-documented APIs allowing the orchestrator to control the test automation platform.
3. Execution time
In a fully automated pipeline, the time needed for running tests is crucial. If it takes 48 hours to run all test cases, the pipeline is dysfunctional and will not work in practice. Make sure that the test automation platform can scale the execution of test cases to keep run-time at a minimum.
4. Learning curve
Some Continuous Testing tools are overwhelming for newcomers because of unnecessary complexity. Others are less technical and more intuitive. Regardless of choice, the test team must receive tool training. You should make an estimate of how long it would take your team to be able to adopt the tool in their daily work.
5. Alignment with business expectations
If done right, implementing a Continuous Testing tool to your software is a great investment. You should ask yourself: Overall, will this tool help us achieve the level of process optimization required to meet business goals taking into consideration all aspects of Continuous Testing: Identifying test cases for automation, developing automated tests, execution, reporting and acting on results, defining actions for when things fail, etc.