Intelligent Test Automation in a DevOps World

The importance of intelligent test automation

Digital transformation has disrupted time to market like never before. Reducing the cycle time for releasing multiple application versions through the adoption of Agile and DevOps principles has become the prime factor for providing a competitive edge. However, assuring quality across application releases is now proving to be an elusive goal in the absence of the right amount of test automation. Hence it is no surprise that according to the Data Bridge Market research, the automation testing market will reach an estimated value of USD 19.9 billion by 2028 and grow at a CAGR of 14.89% in the forecast period of 2021 to 2028.

Test automation is a challenge, not only because an organization’s capabilities have traditionally been focused on manual testing techniques but also because it’s viewed to be a complex siloed activity. Automation engineers are expected to cohesively bind the vision of the business team, functional flows that the testers use, along their own core component of automation principles and practices. Production continuum can only become a reality when there is a disruption to automation as a siloed activity, ably supported by maximum collaboration and convergence of skillsets. Even then, without the adoption of the right test automation techniques, it becomes near impossible to realize the complete value.

Outlined below are steps towards making test automation initiatives more effective and results-oriented.

Comprehensive coverage of test scenarios

Test automation, to a large extent, focuses on the lower part of the test pyramid addressing viz – unit testing and component testing but neglecting the most crucial aspect of testing business-related areas. The key to assuring application quality is to identify those scenarios that are business relevant and automate them for maximum test coverage. The need of the hour is to adopt tools and platforms that cover the entire test pyramid and not restrict it to any level.

Read more: The right testing strategies for AI/ML applications

A test design-led automation approach can help in ensuring maximum coverage of test scenarios. However, given that this is a complex area, aggravated by the application complexity itself, what tools can help with is to handle the sequence of test scenarios, expressing the business rules and associating data-driven decision tables attached to the workflow, thereby providing complete coverage of all high-risk business cases. By adopting this sequence, complexity can be better managed, modifications can be applied much faster, and tests can be structured to be more automation friendly. 

This approach helps to analyze functional parameters of the test in a better way and helps to define what needs to be tested with sharp focus, i.e., enable a sharper prioritization of the test area. It aggregates various steps involved in test flow along with the conditions each step can have and prioritizes the generation of steps along with risk association.

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Sharp focus on test design

The adoption of Test Driven Development (TDD) and Behavior Driven Development (BDD) techniques aims to accelerate the design phase in Agile engagements. However, these techniques come at the cost of incomplete test coverage and test suite maintenance-related issues. Test design automation aims to overcome these challenges by concentrating on areas like requirements engineering, automated test case generation, migration, and optimization. Automation focus at the test design stage contributes to tremendous value-add downstream by removing the substantial load from scripting test cases and generating them. 

Adoption of the right toolsets accelerates the inclusion of test design automation during the earlier stages of the development process, making it key to Agile engagements. Most test design automation tools adopt visual-based testing. They make use of graphical workflows that can be understood by all project stakeholders – testers, business stakeholders, technical experts, etc. Such workflows can be synchronized with any requirements management toolsets and collaboratively improved with inputs from all stakeholders. User stories and acceptance criteria are contextualized so that everyone can see the functional dependency between the previous user stories and the ones that were developed during the current sprint.

Collaboration is key

Collaboration is the pillar of Agile development processes. By bringing collaboration into test design, risk-based coverage of test cases can be effectively addressed, along with the generation of automated scripts on a faster note. Automation techniques steeped in collaboration provide the ability to organize tests by business flows, keywords, impact and ensure depth of test coverage by leveraging the right test data. 

By integrating test automation tools into Agile testing cycles, a collaborative test design can be delivered with ease. With such tools, any changes to user stories can be well reflected; users can comment on the flows or data, identify and flag risks much earlier. These tools also enable the integration of test cases into test management tools of choice like Jira and generate automation scripts that can work under different automation tools like selenium.

Making legacy work

Most organizations suffer from a huge backlog of legacy cases – there is a repository of manual test cases that are critical for business. Organizations need them to be a part of the agile stream. For this to happen, automation is mandatory. Manual test cases of legacy applications are very rich in application functionality and make good sense to get retrofitted into test automation platforms.

New age test design automation frameworks and platforms can address legacy tests that are already documented, parse them, and incorporate them as a part of the automation test suite. Many of these tools leverage AI to retro engineer manual test cases into the software platform – graphical workflow, test data, and test cases themselves can be added to the tool. 

You may also like: Uncovering nuances in data-led QA for AI/ML applications

A closer look at the current test automation landscape outlines a shift from the siloed model that existed earlier. Clearly visible is the move towards automation skillsets, coding practices, and tools-related expertise. Automation tools are also seen moving up the maturity curve to optimize the effort of test automation engineers, at the same time enabling functional testers with minimal exposure to automation stacks to contribute significantly to automation effort. All in all, such shifts are accelerating the move towards providing organizations the ability to do more automation with existing resources.

Trigent’s partnership with Smartesting allows us to leverage test design automation by Integrating these tools in your Agile testing cycles, thus being able to quickly deliver collaborative test design, risk-based coverage of test cases, and faster generation of automated scripts. We help you organize tests by business flows, keywords, risks, depth of coverage, leveraging the right test data, as well as generate and integrate test cases into test management tools of your choice (JIRA, Zephy, Test Rail, etc.).

Our services will enable you to take on your documented legacy tests, parse them and bring them into such tools very quickly. Further, we help you generate test automation scripts that can work under different automation tools like Selenium & Cypress. Our services are delivered in an As-A-Service Model, or you can leverage our support to implement the tools and the training of your teams to achieve their goals.

Ensure seamless functionality and performance of your application with intelligent test automation. Call us now!

DevOps Success: 7 Essentials You Need to Know

High-performing IT teams are always looking for ways to adopt and use industry best practices and solutions. This enables them to overcome obstacles and achieve consistent and reliable commercial outcomes. A DevOps strategy enables the delivery of software products and services to the market in a more reliable and timely manner. The capacity of the team to have the correct combination of human judgment, culture, procedure, tools, and automation is critical to DevOps success.

Is DevOps the Best Approach for You?

DevOps is a solid framework that aids businesses in getting the most out of their digital efforts. It fosters a productive workplace by enhancing cooperation and value generation across all teams, including development, testing, and operations.

DevOps-savvy companies can launch software solutions more quickly into production, with shorter lead times and reduced failure rates. They have higher levels of responsiveness, are more resilient to production difficulties, and restore failed services more quickly.

However, just because every other IT manager is boasting about their DevOps success stories doesn’t mean you should jump in and try your hand at it. By planning ahead for your DevOps journey, you can avoid the traps that are sure to arise.

Here are seven essentials to keep in mind when you plan your DevOps journey.

1. DevOps necessitates a shift in work culture—manage it actively.

The most important feature of DevOps is the seamless integration of various IT teams to enable efficient execution. It results in a software delivery pipeline known as Continuous Integration-Continuous Delivery (CI/CD). Across development, testing, and operations, you must abandon the traditional silo approach and adopt a collaborative and transparent paradigm. Change is difficult and often met with opposition. It is tough for people to change their working habits overnight. You play an important role in addressing such issues in order to achieve cultural transformation. Be patient, persistent, and use continuous communication to build the necessary change in the management process.

2. DevOps isn’t a fix for capability limitations— it’s a way to improve customer experiences

DevOps isn’t a panacea for all of the problems plaguing your existing software delivery. Mismatches between what upper management expects and what is actually possible must be dealt with individually. DevOps will give you a return on your investment over time. Stakeholder expectations about what it takes to deploy DevOps in their organization should be managed by IT leaders.

Obtain top-level management buy-in and agreement on the DevOps strategy, approach, and plan. Define DevOps KPIs that are both attainable and measurable, and make sure that all stakeholders are aware of them.

3. Keep an eye out for going off-track during the Continuous Deployment Run

Only until you can forecast, track, and measure the end-customer advantages of each code deployment in production can you fully implement DevOps’ continuous deployment approach. In each deployment, focus on the features that are important to the business, their importance, plans, development, testing, and release.

At every stage of DevOps, developers, testers, and operations should all contribute to quality engineering principles. This ensures that continuous deployments are stable and reliable.

4. Restructure your testing team and redefine your quality assurance processes

To match with DevOps practices and culture, you must reimagine your testing life cycle process. To adapt and incorporate QA methods into every phase of DevOps, your testing staff needs to be rebuilt and retrained into a quality assurance regimen. Efforts must be oriented toward preventing or catching bugs in the early stages of development, as well as assisting in making every release of code into production reliable, robust, and fit for the company.

DevOps testing teams must evolve from a reactive, bug-hunting team to a proactive, customer-focused, and multi-skilled workforce capable of assisting development and operations.

5. Incorporate security practices earlier in the software development life cycle (SDLC)

Security is typically considered near the end of the IT value chain. This is primarily due to the lack of security knowledge among most development and testing teams. Information security’s confidentiality, integrity, and availability must be ingrained from the start of your SDLC to ensure that the code in production is secure against penetration, vulnerabilities, and threats.

Adopt and use methods and technologies to help your system become more resilient and self-healing. Integrating DevSecOps into DevOps cycles will allow you to combine security-focused mindsets, cultures, processes, tools, and methodologies across your software development life cycle.

6. Only use tools and automation when absolutely necessary

It’s not about automating everything in your software development life cycle with DevOps. DevOps emphasizes automation and the use of tools to improve agility, productivity, and quality. However, in the hurry to automate, one should not overlook the value and significance of the human judgment. From business research to production monitoring, the team draws vital insights and collective intelligence through constant and seamless collaborative efforts that can’t be substituted by any tool or automation.

Managers, developers, testers, security experts, operations, and support teams must collaborate to choose which technologies to utilize and which automation areas to automate. Automate tasks like code walkthroughs, unit testing, integration testing, build verification, regression testing, environment builds, and code deployments that are repetitive.

7. DevOps is still maturing, and there is no standard way to implement it

DevOps is continuously changing, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach or strategy for implementing it. DevOps implementations may be defined, interpreted, and conceptualized differently by different teams within the same organization. This could cause misunderstanding in your organization regarding all of your DevOps transformation efforts. For your company’s demands, you’ll need to develop a consistent method and plan. It’s preferable if you make sure all relevant voices are heard and ideas are distilled in order to produce a consistent plan and approach for your company. Before implementing DevOps methods across the board, conduct research, experiment, and run pilot projects.

(Originally published in Stickyminds)

QA outsourcing in the World of DevOps – Best Practices for Dispersed (Distributed) QA Teams

DevOps is the preferred methodology for software development and release, with collaborating teams oriented towards faster delivery cycles augmented by early feedback. QA is a critical binding thread of DevOps practice, with early inclusion at the story definition stage. Adoption of a distributed model of QA and QA outsourcing had earlier been bumpy, however, the pandemic has evened out the rough edges.

Why QA outsourcing is good for business

The underlying principle which drives DevOps is collaboration. With outsourced QA being expedited through teams distributed across geographies and locations, a plethora of aspects that were hitherto guaranteed through co-located teams, have now come under a lot of pressure. Concerns range from constant communication and interworking to coverage across a wide range of testing types – unit testing, API testing as well as validating experiences across a wide range of channels.

As with everything in life, DevOps needs a balanced approach, maintaining collaboration and communication between teams while ensuring that delivery cycles are up to speed and the quality of the delivered product meets customer expectations.

Best practices for ensuring the effectiveness of distributed QA teams

Focus on right capability: While organizations focus to a large extent on bringing capabilities across development, support, QA, operations, and product management in a scrum team, paramount from a quality perspective would be QA skills. The challenge is to find the right skill mix. For example, a good exploratory tester; good automation skills (not necessarily in the same person). In addition, specialist skills related to performance, security, accessibility also need to be thought through. The key is to choose an optimum mix of specialists and generalists.

Aim to achieve the right platform/tool mix: It is vital to maintain consistency across the tool stacks used for engagement. As per a 451 research survey, 39% of respondents juggle 11 to 30 tools so as to keep an eye on their application infrastructure and cloud environment; 8% are even found to use over 21 to 30 tools. Commonly referred to as tool sprawl, this makes it extremely difficult to collaborate in an often decentralized and distributed QA environment. It’s imperative to have a balanced approach towards the tool mix, ideally by influencing the team to adopt a common set of tools instead of making it mandatory.

Ensure a robust CI/process and environment: A weak and insipid process may cause the development and operations team to run into problems while integrating new code. With several geographically distributed teams committing code consistently into the CI environment, shared dev/test/deploy environments constantly run into issues if sufficient thought process has not gone into identification of environment configurations. These can ultimately translate into failed tests and thereby failed delivery/deployment. A well-defined automated process ensures continuous deployment & monitoring throughout the lifecycle of an application, from integration and testing phases through to release & support.

A good practice would be to adopt cloud-based infrastructure, reinforced by mechanisms for managing any escalations on deployment issues effectively and quickly. Issues like build failure or lack of infra support can hamper the productivity of distributed teams. When strengthened by remote alerts and robust reporting capabilities for teams and resilient communication infrastructure, accelerated development to deployment becomes a reality.

Follow good development practices: Joint backlog grooming exercises with all stakeholders, regular updates on progress, code analysis, and effective build & deployment practices, as well as establishing a workflow for defect/issue management, are paramount in ensuring the effectiveness of distributed DevOps. Equally important is the need to manage risk early with ongoing impact analysis, code quality reviews, risk-based testing, and real-time risk assessments. In short, the adoption of risk and impact assessment mechanisms is vital.

Another key area of focus is the need to ascertain robust metrics that help in the early identification of quality issues and ease the process of integration with the development cycle. Recent research from Gatepoint and Perfecto surveyed executives from over 100 leading digital enterprises in the United States on their testing habits, tools, and challenges. The survey results show that 63 percent start to test only after a new build and code is being developed. Just 40 percent test upon each code change or at the start of new software.

Devote equal attention to both manual and automation testing: Manual (or exploratory) testing allows you to ensure that product features are well tested, while automation of tests (or as some say checks!) helps you with improving coverage for repeatable tasks. Planning for both during your early sprint planning meetings is important. In most cases, automation is usually given step-motherly treatment and falls at the wayside due to scope creep and repeated testing due to defects.

A 2019 state of testing report, shows that only 25 percent of respondents claimed they have more than 50 percent of their functional tests automated. So, the ideal approach would be to separate the two sets of activities and ensure that they both get equal attention from their own set of specialists.

Early non-functional focus: Organizations tend to overlook the importance of bringing in occasional validations of how the product fares around performance, security vulnerabilities, or even important regulations like accessibility, until late in the day. As per the DevSecOps Community Survey, 55 percent of respondents deploy at least once per week, and 18 percent claim multiple daily deployments. But when it comes to security, 45 percent of the survey’s respondents know it’s important but don’t have time to devote to it.

Security has a further impact on CI/CD tool stack deployment itself as indicated by the 451 research in which more than 60% of respondents said a lack of automated, integrated security tools is a big challenge in implementing CI/CD tools effectively.

It is essential that any issue which is non-functional in nature be exposed and dealt with before it moves down the dev pipeline. Adoption of a non-functional focus depends to a large extent on the evolution of the product and the risk to the organization.

Benefits of outsourcing your QA

In order to make distributed QA teams successful, an organization must have the capability to focus in a balanced and consistent way across the length and breadth of the QA spectrum, from people and processes to technology stacks. It is heartening to note that the recent pandemic situation has revealed a positive trend in terms of better acceptance of these practices. However, the ability to make these practices work, hinges on the diligence with which an organization institutionalizes these best practices as well as platforms and supplements it with an organizational culture that is open to change.

Trigent’s experienced and versatile Quality Assurance and Testing team is a major contributor to the successful launch, upgrade, and maintenance of quality software used by millions around the globe. Our experienced responsible testing practices put process before convenience to delight stakeholders with an impressive industry rivaled Defect Escape Ratio or DER of 0.2.

Test our abilities. Contact us today.

Improve the quality of digital experiences with Performance Engineering

Quality at the heart of business performance

“In 2020, the key expectation is fast, reliable, and trustworthy software.” *

As businesses embrace the Agile/DevOps culture and the emphasis on CI/CD is growing, quality assurance is seen as a standalone task, limited to validating functionalities implemented. When QA and Testing is an afterthought in an Agile/DevOps culture, the result is a subpar consumer experience followed by an adverse impact on the revenue pipeline. Poor customer experience also directly impacts brand credibility and business equity. While UI/UX are the visible elements of the customer experience, product, or service performance is a critical element that is often neglected. Performance Testing identifies the gaps that are addressed through Performance Engineering.

Small steps, significant gains – the journey towards Performance Engineering

The deeper issue lies in the organization’s approach towards quality and testing – it is considered an independent phase rather than looked upon as a collaborative and an integrated approach. Performance engineering is a set of methodologies that identifies potential risks and bottlenecks early on in the development stage of the product and addresses them. It goes without saying that performance is an essential ingredient in the quality of the product, there’s a deeper need for change in thinking – to think proactively, anticipate early in the development cycle, test and deliver a quality experience to the end consumer. An organization that makes gradual changes in its journey towards performance engineering stands to gain significantly. The leadership team, the product management, and the engineering and DevOps at different levels need to take the shift-left approach towards performance engineering.

Make Performance Engineering your strategic priority today

Despite the obvious advantages, performance testing is typically a reactive measure that is addressed after the initial launch. However, organizations need to embrace performance engineering measures right from the design phase, start small, and take incremental steps towards change.

Covid-19 has rapidly changed the way consumers behave globally. Businesses caught onto remote working; consumers moved shopping, entertainment, banking, learning, and medical consultations online. Consider the quantum jump in usage triggered by the pandemic.

The dramatic increase in the use of digital services has covered decades in days.**

Companies that adopted scalability and performance centric design have moved swiftly to capture the market opportunity.

With multiple user-interfaces across sectors being the norm and the increasing complexity of digital experiences, it is critical for businesses to get it right the first time in order to gain and retain customers’ trust.

As cloud migrations continue, whether rehosting the app on an IaaS or rebuilding a new approach, performance engineering ensures that migrated systems withstand sudden surges in usage. According to a Sogeti and Neotys report, 74% of the load testing infrastructure is operated in the cloud today. Cloud infrastructure providers ensure reliability but they may not be aware of the performance metrics that matter to the business and their impact. As organizations move from monolithic systems to distributed architectures provided by an assortment of companies, corporate leaders need to recognize the importance of performance engineering and embrace it to deliver the right solutions for the first time.

Our approach to Performance Engineering philosophy

At Trigent, we put the customer experience at the heart of planning the entire testing cycle. Our performance engineering practices align with ‘metrics that matter’ to businesses in the DevOps framework. While testing identifies the gaps in performance, the onus of architecting it right lies on the DevOps engineering team with proactive inputs from QA and Testing.

Performance engineering is also a way of thinking, the ability to plan for performance at the time of design, right at the beginning. As for quality, besides testing for functionality, anticipating potential bottlenecks helps us assess the process in its entirety in the beginning.

Asking some of these customer-centric questions early on shifts the perspective right at the outset. Ask them early, and you’re on your way to a performance engineering culture.

Parameters that matter

‘Will my application meet the defined response-time requirements of my customers?’

Consider an app that doesn’t respond within the expected standards of the customer; the chances of that application making it to the customer’s phone screen is pretty slim.

‘Will the application handle the expected user load and beyond?’

An application that tested well with 10 users may fail when that number is multiplied by a thousand or two.

We take the viewpoints of multiple stakeholders, consider parameters that matter to the customer, and assess impact early on.

Customer experience matters

Performance Engineering takes into account the overall experience of the end-user and their environment.

Asking pertinent questions such as ‘Will my users experience acceptable response times, even during peak hours?’ or ‘Does the application respond quickly enough for the intended users?’ does well to anticipate potential pitfalls in network usage and latency.

‘Where are the bottlenecks in my multi-user environment?’

Understand the real environment of the user and their challenges to provide a quality user experience.

Early Focus

The non-functional aspects are integrated into the DevOps and an early focus on performance enables us to gain insights into architectural issues.

‘How can we optimize the multi-user application before it goes live?
‘How can we detect errors that only occur under real-load conditions?

Quick course corrections help optimize performance and make the product market-ready. Besides faster deployment, quality assurance gives our clients an added advantage of reduced performance costs.

Architect it right

‘What system capacity is required to handle the expected load?’
‘Will the application handle the number of transactions required by the business?’

Important questions like these focus on architecting the product for performance. As part of the performance engineering methodology, our teams consistently check and validate the capabilities at the time of developing the product or scaling it up. We take the shift-left and shift-right approach to anticipate, identify, and remove bottlenecks early on. Getting the architecture right enables us to deliver and deploy a high-quality product every time.

Performance engineering done right is sure to improve the planning-to-deployment time with high-quality products. Plus, it reduces performance costs arising out of unforeseen issues. A step-by-step approach in testing makes sure organizations move towards achieving performance engineering. Talk to our experts for scalable performance engineering solutions for your business.

Learn more about Trigent software testing services.


Reference:
* The State of Performance Engineering 2020 – A Sogeti and Neotys report
** Meet the next-normal consumer – A McKinsey & Company report

Outsourcing Testing in a DevOps World

Software products today are being developed for a unified experience. Applications are created to perform and deliver a seamless experience on multiple types of devices, operating on various platforms.

Additionally, the growing demand for launching products at pace and scale is pushing businesses towards ensuring that they are market-ready in shorter time frames. The prevalence of Agile/DevOps practices now requires testing to be carried out simultaneously to development. Continuous development, integration, testing, and deployment have become the norm. Testers are now a part of the development process, testing the features, releases, and updates in parallel as they get developed.

The testing & deploying of a multi-platform product in a fast-paced environment requires expertise and complimenting infrastructure to deliver a unified experience. Add multiple product lines, constant updates for new features, a complex deployment, a distributed user base, into the mix, and your search for an outsourcing partner could become a daunting task.

We share some considerations that can guide your decision making — drawn from our experience of working as outsourcing partners for some of our clients, helping them deliver quality products on time.

Criteria our clients applied before selecting us as their outsourcing testing partners

Need for staff augmentation vs. managed services

You can choose staff augmentation if the requirement is short term and the tasks are well defined. In the case of a long term project, it is best to opt for managed services. Managed services suit best if the project requires ongoing support and skill sets that are not available with the business but are vital for the product or project. It also fits well for long term projects that have a clear understanding of outputs and outcomes.

Agility of the vendor’s testing practices

Agile/DevOps methodologies now drive a healthy percentage of software development and testing. Can the vendor maintain velocity in an Agile/DevOps environment? Do they have the processes to integrate into cross-functional, distributed teams to ensure continuous integration, development, testing, and deployment?

Relevant experience working for your industry

Relevant industry experience ensures that the testers involved know about your business domain. Industry knowledge not only increases efficiency but also guides testers to prioritize testing with the highest level of business impact.

Tools, frameworks, and technologies that the vendor offers

Understand the expertise of the vendor in terms of the tools, frameworks, and technologies. What is their approach to automation? Do they use/recommend licensed or open source tools? These are some considerations that can guide your evaluation.

Offshoring – Onshoring – Bestshoring

Many vendors recommend offshoring processes to reap benefits from cost savings. But does offshoring translate to an equally beneficial proposition for you? While you can best ascertain the applicability and benefits of offshoring, it is advisable to go for a mix of the three. In a managed services engagement, right shoring (a mix of onsite & offshore), ensures that the coordination aspects are dealt with by the vendor.

Reputation in the market

Ascertaining the reputation of the vendor in the market can be another useful way of evaluation. Reading independent reviews about the organization, understanding the longevity of their existing engagements (Customer stickiness), references from businesses that have engaged with the vendor earlier, number of years the organization has been in business are some of the factors that can be applied.

Culture within the organization

The culture of your potential partner must be broadly aligned with your organizational culture. The vendor should identify with your culture, be quick to adapt, be ethical, and gel well with the existing team. The culture within the vendor organization is also crucial to ensure that the employees are respectful of their commitments and stay accountable for assigned responsibilities.

Low-cost vs. high-quality output

Engaging with people who have the experience in the required domain and technology, working on a customized delivery model, within stipulated timelines, come for a premium. But are more likely to deliver value compared to a low-cost fragmented solution with inexperienced manpower, little or zero knowledge on domain-specific skills and technology, and an unsure commitment to timely delivery.

Do you know of other factors that influence decision making in terms of identifying the right outsourcing partner? Please share your thoughts.

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