In today’s IT landscape, if an application isn’t being developed, tested or deployed in continuous fashion, the inevitable question is: why not? In the eyes of many software development team members, if you’re not testing continuously, then you’re not really testing. What exactly is continuous testing and why is it so important? In this blog, we’ll explore the concept of continuous testing and its impact on improving software quality, including best practices and benefits.
Understanding Continuous Testing
Continuous testing is the process of incorporating automated feedback throughout the software development lifecycle, resulting in increased efficiency when managing deployments. Continuous testing is a critical driver behind the effectiveness of CI/CD (continuous integration/continuous delivery) processes and plays a crucial role in accelerating SDLC timelines by improving code quality, avoiding costly errors, and expediting DevOps processes. Continuous testing provides organizations with the assurance that its most important and complex end-to-end processes are validated thoroughly and often.
Continuous integration and continuous testing bolster one another to ensure small changes don’t break important business processes when no centralized control exists for the change list or manifest of changes. Typically, within large organizations there are many moving parts and multiple actors making changes. For example, some changes could be occurring on the front-end to a custom web storefront, while others could be on the ERP system that sits in the middle handling all of the store’s transactions, and even more changes could be taking place on the back-end legacy mainframe. For the end-to-end business process that requires all of these systems to work together seamlessly, continuous testing is a great approach and can reduce the risk of various changes bringing production to a rapid halt.
Benefits of Continuous Testing
There are many benefits when it comes to continuous testing. One benefit of running comprehensive tests continuously is risk mitigation. The risk of a small change in the middle of a process causing a big failure in related processes, which could potentially spiral and bring down an entire production environment, is reduced significantly with continuous testing.
Continuous testing helps find those pesky inter-application dependencies that most people in the organization can’t predict, understand or consistently document. For example, changing the date format for a localization project can disrupt code that does not understand how to process a timestamp with an included time zone. This could easily happen upstream or downstream of a change. To mitigate this type of risk, continuous testing at least daily or on demand helps narrow the scope of the problem to the configuration or code changes that were made in the last 12 hours, which dramatically reduces the size and scope of the changes that need review.
In addition to risk mitigation, another huge benefit of continuous testing is increased efficiency and productivity. Continuous testing allows organizations to run multiple automated tests throughout the SDLC, which means there’s no need to complete the entire DevOps phase before jumping into testing. Since software teams can run parallel performance tests and address any errors far earlier in the SDLC, they can execute faster and meet deadlines more efficiently, resulting in quicker production and more product releases.
Finding and fixing issues at any stage of development can save days if not weeks of development time. If the time to market or launch is an important aspect of an organization’s development process, then it would be very beneficial to adopt continuous testing. DevOps continuous testing significantly improves the speed and quality of the build and makes feedback loops more timely, which always helps when building a high-quality app.
Continuous testing can easily be implemented across all teams. QA experts can easily comprehend and work on end-user problems. No matter how complex your setup is, there’s always a way to implement continuous testing.
Key Elements of Effective Continuous TestingContinuous testing can seem daunting at first glance but it generally covers the following:
- Testing at earlier stages of the release pipeline
- Testing more often before release
- Testing across environments and devices
The dimensions that are tested include functional and non-functional testing. Functional DevOps continuous testing typically involves system testing, integrated testing, API testing and unit testing. In complex enterprise environments, both continuous integration and continuous testing are needed. Continuous testing is the missing link between continuous integration and consistent delivery of high quality business value. They are not mutually exclusive and organizations with enterprise-class deployments containing a mix of custom-built and packaged applications need to apply both approaches to testing.The whole concept of CI/CD is to deliver quality quickly while delivering automation, continuity and collaboration. In continuous testing, CI/CD can be used to notify testers and developers if there is a break in any area of the build. A merge can be stopped so changes can be made before continuing. This can all be automated which allows continuous testing to find and fix issues before it reaches the end user. Functional, integration, regression, and performance tests can be automated for speed and accuracy.
Best Practices for Implementing Continuous Testing
DevOps continuous testing and Agile continuous testing in a CI/CD environment is a proven method for growth. However, if you plan on implementing continuous testing in this environment then you must consider these important factors since you cannot test every single eventuality. Continuous testing Agile is useful but cannot cover every instance.
- Rapid Feedback
In order to successfully implement continuous testing, DevOps teams need the right mix of tools, people, and processes. Most importantly, they need fast and frequent feedback loops to guide their testing efforts. Feedback loops are vital at every stage of the SDLC if continuous testing is to be present, and this is a significant obstacle to implementing CT. Not only do automated tests have to be created, but a precise understanding of the test results is essential.
- Balancing Test and Speed Requirements
You should start your testing with a broad coverage approach which should alert you to obvious issues. Next would be the component or interactions test. This is to examine code interactions. From there, you can move to automated performance, GUI and load tests. Once these automations are done, then you can focus on the manual testing. Manual testing is normally used for high-risk environments.
DevOps continuous testing has shaped the software development sector. Every software development company has adopted the testing model in order to create high-quality products that satisfy users on time with less risks or defects. Continuous testing is here to stay and as a developer using the Agile or DevOps methodology, continuous testing is a must.
Worksoft can help you minimize the risks associated with IT innovation and digital transformation with an integrated platform for automated business process discovery and testing, enabling organizations to:
- Support critical enterprise applications, including on premise, cloud, mobile, Web and HTML
- Deliver end-to-end automated application testing across entire business processes, going beyond SAP to support platforms such as Oracle, Salesforce, Workday, ServiceNow and others
- Add value and accelerate testing through automated discovery, analytics, documentation, compliance support and robotic process automation
The bottom line: organizations must avoid bugs which will impact their overall operations. An automation solution from Worksoft allows them to shorten project timelines and improve IT team productivity by speeding up testing cycles and reducing manual effort, offering effective regression testing to ensure high quality code. As a result, they get higher quality applications in users' hands.
Using Worksoft's automation solutions in DevOps environments can not only speed the deployment of high quality software, but also dramatically reduce testing time by up to 90 percent - even in the face of continuous development, integration, and overall change. To find out more about how Worksoft’s automated testing can help your business take back control in today’s sprawling applications environment, visit www.worksoft.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.