Gaining agility through automated testing

Your product must have an eye of an eagle and speed of a falcon to be the first in the market and maintain a competitive edge. This compels an enterprise to adopt test automation in Agile (DevOps) product development approach.

The consumer is all-pervasive, their demands are increasing by the day. Hence it is imperative to address customer’s needs wants and aspirations continuously, efficiently, effectively & faster. If we do not meet customer expectations, enterprises will become irrelevant to market dynamics. One of the ways in reaching customer demands is through creating successful products, solutions and faster to the market.

Product faster to market
Your product must have an eye of an eagle and speed of a falcon to be the first in the market and maintain a competitive edge. This compels an enterprise to transition its traditional product development approach such as waterfall or V to the Agile development approach with more focus on CI & CD (Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery). Product development activities such as requirements, design, coding, and testing are still valid and true even in CI & CD approach. The only difference is that all such activities are happening at a greater pace with high expectations.

During product development, over a period, features-functionalities are added that require thorough, reliable and fast testing. Talking about fast and reliable testing means test automation becomes an integral part of CI&CD. Through test automation, your product can fail fast followed by fast fix and again followed by re-testing and regression testing.
Certainly, test automation has too many benefits if followed and executed in the right fashion. To reap the real benefits of test automation, it requires proper planning processes definition, selection of right tools, the right framework, and overall the right approach.

Best test automation tool
There are numerous paid and open-source tools available for test automation. To name a few, Selenium and Appium is widely used and has become reliable and ideal tools for test automation for web and mobile application. But certainly, test automation is not limited or restricted to Selenium and Appium.

There are 100s of tools available in the market, few are free whereas few are paid. Each one has it’s own features and advantages over others and requires careful thought before deciding for its usage Each one of these tools has enriched features but the initial set up requires great attention and precise work.

In a product development life cycle, project resources are limited and many times it is challenging to set up test automation in the right fashion so that it adds value to the enterprise. This requires the right skilled people and dedicated time for the initial set up. Nihilent has been helping clients across the globe by setting up test automation and educating clients on how to reap maximum benefits out of test automation.

Blended approach
How do you deliver a quick quality solution corresponding to an idea? Is it possible to fully test the solution quickly? These are a few key concerns of any business and IT professionals because the traditional approach like Waterfall can not address quick solution delivery. The way forward is an agile method with much focus on CI-CD-CT.

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Continuous integration (CI) – A large or a small team of developers follows a practice of integrating code into a shared repository and doing automated unit tests very frequently, possibly several times a day.

Continuous testing (CT) – Frequent code integration demands frequent and thorough testing of the entire system quickly. As more code integration happens, the system keeps on becoming bigger and bigger and completing test execution quickly becomes a challenge. Hence, test automation is the only solution by which codes can be tested quickly and multiple times as needed.

Continuous delivery (CD) – When we have a fully tested product, this can be released to the market quickly. More features are built on a routine basis that is quickly integrated, tested and again released for use.

Your product building goes through activities such as build, deploy, test and release. These all continue frequently and builds a pipeline. Testing the pipeline faster, failing faster followed by fast fix and test is only possible with robust test automation. It is not possible to automate everything on day one.

But, maximizing test automation expedites the product delivery and also it improves the product quality. Automated testing is an integral part of CT, hence all together CI-CD-CT makes product delivery faster and of good quality.

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Take an honest due diligence
Millions of projects are following the Agile method across the globe. But, few questions must be asked: “How Mature CI-CD-CT processes you have in your organization?” “Is it productive and beneficial for your enterprise?” “Why CI-CD-CT not working as intended?”, “Do you have the right skilled resources to define and design an Agile process focusing on CI-CD-CT?”

Although the industry understands the benefits of CI and CD, the majority of organizations are not very successful in this area. Working with various customers worldwide, Nihilent noticed that projects implemented CI-CD but they failed to embed CT ( with Automated Tests) which is an integral part of CI and CD.

Unless you have CT with automated tests embedded in CI-CD, the real benefit of ‘Agile-CI-CD’ cannot be gained. Although in theory, it seems that there is one way of implementing CI-CD-CT but the reality is that it has to be customized to your enterprise.

Though the initial cost of implementing test automation is high, in CI-CD-CT methodology, it becomes economical due to continuous usage of the automation tools and techniques.

Panacea through test automation
The advantages of test automation are massive, if it is implemented precisely. “Faster to market” is the key, hence you are dealing with a situation where lots of features, functionalities and product changes are happening at a very fast pace.

As your product grows with new features-functionalities added, the demand for testing grows rapidly. And testing must happen thoroughly, many times and quickly. We cannot afford to dedicate days and weeks in testing just to discover defects rather we would like to discover defects sooner. Why cannot we have a system where test execution can happen almost 24/7, faster, less expensive – fewer people and increased productivity.

Nihilent has been helping many enterprises in implementing automated testing so that the project is more successful, and delivery happens much faster with great confidence in product quality.

Staged process
“Rome was not built in one day”. Test automation takes some time to build the desired capability and produce right and acceptable results. Assuming you have hundreds of manual tests, but all can’t be automated in a day or week, certainly, it will take its own effort and time. Very often enterprises new to test automation are not able to make informed decisions and encounters several impediments.

* Testing is kept on low priority
* Test automation a change to the organization – a culture shift
* The project is not willing to invest in automation
* Looking for quick results
* Unstable application
* The project team is not equipped with the right skill resources.

Way forward
Many best practices, frameworks, free tools, paid tools are available in the market. But none of those comes with vanilla flavour that fits for all. Test automation comes with significant investment, hence requires careful planning to maximize the benefits.

Expert, 360-degree views are required for test automation initiatives. Your organization’s business, technologies, processes, people, etc are unique, hence your automation test approach has to be custom to your enterprise. Test tool selection, framework, governance processes, etc., almost everything has to be custom and mapped to your enterprise to see the best outcome out of test automation.

Nihilent has noticed many instances across the globe where the Adhoc test automation approach was made that turned into a financial loss, productivity loss and finally turned into a big failure. Test automation is strategic initiatives and must be planned smartly, carefully under the guidance of a testing expert.

Continuous testing (CT) is not one of those “nice to have” things rather it is an essential and integral part of CI-CD. By implementing successful automated testing practices, the enterprise can increase productivity by releasing new features at an extremely rapid pace. Test automation is an expensive strategic initiative that must be planned carefully, smartly under the guidance of experienced automation experts. Successful test automation comes with some cost but in the long run, it adds great value to the enterprise by increasing productivity, quality and great cost saving in the long run.

Sanjeev Singh
  • Sanjeev Singh

– The author is Head-Testing, Nihilent.

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