With the frequent iterations that come with agile software development, the time available for tedious tasks like regression testing gets smaller. The question is no longer ‘why should I automate’, but ‘how do I do it efficiently?’.
Whether you’re a development team transitioning to agile, considering going agile, or already practicing a variant of agile, how can you go above and beyond with your test automation to ensure that regression testing isn’t left behind?
In this article, you’ll read about the common pitfalls in automation testing, and discover how to find the right agile automation tool to kick off your agile development that fosters collaboration, seamlessly integrates with your existing software infrastructure, and minimizes maintenance to shorten release cycles.
What is agile development, really?
At its core, an agile process means constantly adapting within the organization as software development teams are pushed to deliver updated software functionality and remove bugs on an ongoing basis.
Test engineers, who are a fundamental part of the agile development process, meet pressure from all sides. The owner of the product wants speedy releases, developers want continuous delivery, and the end-user wants a flawless experience with the product.
On a small scale, creating manual tests doesn’t cause large-scale problems. But when features are built and updated in the 1000’s and there are only two functional testers available, something has to give. Most of the time, it’s regression testing.
Regression testing is a tedious task. If you’ve already tested a feature, and you know it works, you may think no new bugs will be discovered.
Unfortunately, features don’t always work the way you expect them to. When you sacrifice your regression testing, the quality of your product suffers.
This puts an enormous amount of pressure on QA, and the pressure is only escalated as automation is scaled.
This leads to a common slew of problems, from security holes and extended release cycles, to the demotivation of employees crucial to the agile testing approach.
Code-based test automation is one solution, but it is counter productive to the agile development process.
The pitfalls of code-based automated testing
While an agile process looks different in any organization, the project falls flat without proper collaboration between your software development team and the business.
Better products and new features at speed has test engineers scrambling to keep up. Automation is one option for more efficient development schedules, and it has been readily adopted, with KPMG reporting an 85 percent increase in use between 2015 and 2017. However, it poses its own dilemma for software teams.
Choosing a free tool
Test automation is a force of change. Whether a team has introduced test automation or is about to introduce test automation, organizations don’t always choose the tool(s) that fulfil the needs of the development team.
Initially, a team may choose a free tool like Selenium because of budgetary constraints, or a popular test automation tool because of the attraction that comes with a large user base.
Regardless of the tool chosen, someone will need to take the responsibility and time to set up the automated tests, and make sure it’s adopted by the team.
It’s crucial that a team understands how to build in an agile way, where to integrate the tool in an agile pipeline, and create an agile framework for the automated testing to succeed.
Upskill testers or use developer resources
To make sure the tool is readily adopted, you’re faced with a couple options.
If testers have a functional testing background and the tool requires an understanding of multiple programming languages, testers need to be upskilled, so they can write code for an automation framework. If testers are not available, a developer will need to be reallocated to the task.
Either way, a vast amount of resources will be swallowed up in the maintenance and adoption of this tool.
Getting caught up in maintenance
If you’re using a code-based automated tool, you’re reliant on a QA engineer, or developer resources, to regularly review and modify the automated code.
It’s a repetitive task that doesn’t get much attention, and so it’s often cast aside. But at some point, the automated tests falter, spewing out false negatives and false positives.
Overall, this interferes with the testing. Feedback loops are extended, and the development cycle moves slower.
Not enough available resources to scale
When test cases have been set up, and the agile software development life cycle is in full swing, the operation will inevitably be expected to scale.
If regression tests are being cast aside, the operation will scale, but at the expense of the quality of the product. If the regression tests are not cast aside, scalability will be near impossible because of the time it takes to maintain these tests.
Codeless test automation tools require much less maintenance and can be used by everyone in the software development process, closing the skill gap between the tester and the developer using visual flowcharts, instead of code-based tests.
How to find an agile test automation tool
What does this mean for you? What do you need to look for in an agile test automation tool, and how do you know if it will do what it says on the tin?
Primarily, you want to look for an automation tool that will fulfil the needs of the business and your agile development team.
It will foster collaboration between teams, integrate with your existing software infrastructure, and reduce maintenance headaches with the result of shortening release cycles.
Create a checklist that lists your project requirements
To maintain the quality of your software, map out the scope of the project.
Does the tool need to seamlessly automate across platforms, systems and applications? Are you low on the resources needed to script test cases?
For example, you’ve identified the need to test from SAP to desktop and need an agile automation tool that works across technology.
You may also find that you are missing vital programming knowledge within your team needed to code automated tests.
By removing the developer dependency barrier, you can keep up with development cycles and reduce the risk of bugs post release.
Here’s a list to get you started:
Compare the vendor to your existing tool
If you’re already using a test automation tool, use it as a benchmark to assess a new tool. How much faster will you be able to test? And how short is the learning curve?
Teams need to decide on the amount of coding required. Are you looking for no-code, low-code or code-based, or a tool that can facilitate all three?
Find a tool that matches the skillset of your team and encourages everyone in the development process to create automated tests.
Codeless automated tools with visual language and flowcharts create an environment of shared ownership promoting collaboration.
Here’s what to look out for in an agile tool:
Learning and adoption
Find a tool that does not require programming skills to maintain and has a quick onboarding schedule. In an agile environment, every member of a testing team should be able to maintain and create automation.
Time it takes to build an automated test
Reliable, repeatable and fast test creation is a facilitator of agile development. Codeless automation tools can reduce testing to an average of 40 mins testing down from 3 days.
Watch this video, where two testers set up automation in two different tools: Selenium, which is code-based, and LEAPWORK, which is 100% code free.
Most test automation products offer a free demo. Use this opportunity to evaluate the ease of use of the product. Does the agile development tool deliver on its promise of fast and easy-to-build test cases?
Fill the skills gap
In the typical software development team, you have programmers who are developers. And you have the testers who are brilliant at understanding the user journey from a business perspective.
To find a person with both competencies is difficult. And if there is a gap between the developer and the tester, scalability will be tough.
Most tools cater for the tester or the programmer. A tool that’s made with business users and tech specialists in mind makes it easier to build and document a process that is easily understood by all. It becomes possible to collaborate across professions and skills.
Keeping to the agenda of quality is hugely important for any business. How can you hit that benchmark in your development team while getting software out faster?
To reap the benefits of test automation, you need to reduce complexity. Test automation can’t truly support agile testing unless the strategy is no longer dependent on technical specialists.
Every tester should be made capable of monitoring and analyzing automated tests. When the burden is removed from singular team members, every member will have more freedom to test new features.
With a visual language automation tool, you can minimize the maintenance of regression tests using components that don’t require coding skills to master.
Integrates with existing processes
Your pipeline will dictate the automation platform chosen. Check that the tool has the necessary native plugins and a REST API so that it works with your existing IT landscape.
Look out for inbuilt governance features that support your DevOps. Use that free demo to see for yourself the automated test cases’ ability to run in multiple environments.
Supports cross-technology testing
If you have several applications you want to automate, and you’re using different tools, it takes a lot of time to learn how to use them. That’s an insurmountable task for an employee or employees to cover.
Find a tool that supports applications and integrations across technology, enabling you to automate anything.
If we were to take the agile methodology at face value, everything coming out of an agile sprint would work. In enterprise companies with thousands of test cases, the chance of that happening is slim to none.
So how can you ensure software releases happen at speed without compromising the quality? LEAPWORK removes the complexity of code and uses a visual language making it possible for testers to get involved in agile sprints.
Allowing testers to build automation means that you can incorporate the automation scope into your sprint, freeing up the time spent on regression testing.
For agile, it means your testers are free to utilize their skill sets to challenge the software under development.
What makes LEAPWORK an agile testing tool?
Lowest maintenance - Non-developers can maintain their flows so that developers can focus on their primary job role in an agile sprint cycle, and testers can spend more time on exploratory testing.
Shortest learning curve on the market - LEAPWORK’s no-code interface means everyone in the development lifecycle can build and maintain test cases in a matter of days.
Quickest ramp up time – Fit LEAPWORK into your agile strategy at speed. Build a test suite in a couple of days, instead of months.
Easy troubleshooting - Identify errors in complex automation flows quickly with LEAPWORK’s visual language, making it easier to deliver on short testing cycles.
Learn more about selecting an agile test automation tool by downloading our comprehensive whitepaper on the seven points you should take into consideration. You'll also discover how to make your agile testing more maintainable and scalable.