What is Continuous Testing?

Maria Homann

Automation Expert

Test automation is widely known and used by businesses globally to achieve efficient, accurate testing. Continuous testing, on the other hand, is a newer term. In this blog post we define what continuous testing is and discuss test automation's role in achieving continuous testing.

In a world where products and services are increasingly offered in digital formats, it’s only natural that the expectations for these products and services - their quality and the speed at which they are delivered - is simultaneously increasing.

Many businesses today, such as Amazon and Netflix, are digital natives, and rely on their digital offering. These businesses are therefore also some of the fastest at releasing updates and features at high quality. The way they do this is through a continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) pipeline.

Continuous testing is an essential part of this pipeline. 

Continuous testing defined

Continuous testing can be defined as undisrupted testing, meaning little-to-no human intervention, that is carried out on a frequent, repeated basis.

Continuous testing is about testing throughout the release pipeline, as soon as a piece of code is delivered by the developer, instead of testing at the very end of a development cycle, as it is done in a more traditional, waterfall approach.

The purpose of continuous testing is to fail fast. Bugs are inherently easier and cheaper to fix the sooner they are found, so testers strive to find those bugs as quickly as possible and pass them back to the developers, before they build on top of a broken piece of code.

Teams leveraging continuous testing become capable of delivering quality at speed because they:

  • Test at earlier stages of the release pipeline
  • Test more often before release
  • Test everywhere, that is, across environments and devices

Why test automation is critical for continuous testing

The only way that continuous testing can be made possible is through test automation. In fact, automation in general is a prerequisite for creating a CI/CD pipeline, due to its ability to ensure fast and accurate task execution.

Some use the terms test automation and continuous testing interchangeably. Although the two terms often go hand in hand, they are not the same; test automation is a tool used to achieve continuous testing, whereas continuous testing is the goal. This means that you can use test automation without necessarily achieving continuous testing, but you cannot achieve continuous testing without test automation.

So how can you ensure that implementing test automation will also let you test continuously?

In order to achieve earlier, more frequent, and more broad testing, the test automation tool must be built for continuous testing.

So what does such a tool look like? 

Once the right tool is found and implemented, you can expect to see the following benefits of automated, continuous testing:

  • More frequent releases
  • Reduced risk
  • Lower costs 
  • Higher product quality

To achieve continuous testing requires the right tool and approach. We have many resources where you can learn more about continuous testing in related contexts, such as agile and DevOps.

Download our whitepaper on how to achieve continuous testing in agile and continuous delivery environments to learn how to implement test automation in the CI/CD pipeline quickly and easily.

View 'Continuous Testing in Agile'