At present, every techie has Agile, Continuous Delivery, and DevOps in their vocabulary. Everyone wants to be Agile, releasing software quickly, creating products that are innovative just like Silicon Valley startups and giants. A lot of points regarding the transformation are widely understood, and to a certain extent, have been adopted successfully. There is an area, however, where there are still adoption challenges as well as considerable confusion.
More specifically, it involves the testing process. As the release cycle of software shrinks from years to months, down to just weeks and days, or even quicker: how can the testing practices best be reshaped in order to ensure the released software—still in production—does not frustrate users? How do we make sure it does not break and cause disappointment?
This challenge is not uncommon, especially since most DevOps shops find that the most frustrating software production bottleneck is testing.
Understanding Continuous Testing
The answer lies in Continuous Testing, which is essentially the process of automated software testing as a service, a key part of software delivery that gives instant feedback on any risks from a software release candidate. While that sounds incredibly straightforward, there’s more nuance to it than that—the very magnitude, nature, and essence of transformation Continuous Testing gives.
Continuous Testing is basically about shifting testing from an event that is time-boxed amidst a process that is linear to having it embedded as an ongoing, fundamental part of all activities throughout the software delivery cycle.
“In-sprint testing” should be the goal in agile environments of Continuous Testing. Whether or not your sprint is 2 weeks or 4 weeks, completing all types of testing within that sprint should be the goal. This is so that each sprint is able to end with ready-to-ship, fully tested software. The best continuous delivery practices show that it is incredibly impossible to do continuous delivery without continuous testing. If the sprint seems too short for comprehensive testing to be allowed, it is likely being looked into inaccurately.
The most important one is to define the tests even before a single line of code is written. Not having clarity in terms of requirements and interpretations that turn out to be wrong will lead to delays and reworking. It is also key to optimize coverage and tests, since some organizations end up defaulting to simultaneous testing. Unfortunately, all this accomplishes is prolonging test cycles and wasted resources.
For “in-sprint” testing to be developed, shift testing left in order for the tests to run earlier within the cycle of development. It’s also important for the test environment to be complete, since this is critical for continuous testing. Lower wait times and eliminate blocks through providing a test environment that is complete on demand, making sure that there are dev-friendly tools (as code, CI/CD integrations, supported open source). Don’t forget ephemeral environments, test data on demand, and virtual services!
Most importantly, make sure you have the right test data.
It is important to have cross-team collaboration and actionable analytics as well as feedback loops when it comes to continuous testing. While manual testing services have competencies, automation streamlines everything in a way that helps your organization much more efficiently. When in doubt, look to quality assurance professionals for assistance.
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