Five Ways to Improve Your Continuous Testing Strategy

Software Development & Testing

Five Ways to Improve Your Continuous Testing Strategy

Continuous Testing involves utilising automated tests within the software delivery pipeline. It’s usually used to increase efficiencies in the feedback of business risks associated with software releases. It also addresses many of the complexities that come with the fast-nature of modern software deployment.

Continuous Testing is sometimes referred to as a solution that satisfies both development and operations teams. Developers often want to push for innovation and move with the times, while operations staff may be more focused on reliability and delivering promised outcomes. One thing is for sure. Automation saves time, and therefore, all departments benefit.

If you’re looking to better benefit from the efficiencies that come with Continuous Testing, here are some easy ways to improve your Continuous Software Testing strategy:

1. Develop your strategy in advance

In the context of Continuous Testing, defining a strategy, which covers all facets of software testing and takes into account your organisational, team and product structure, will improve efficiency, enhance clarity and ensure that all the desired types of testing are carried out as and when they are required. If all members of a DevOps, development or testing team are driven by well-thought-out strategy and familiar with the accompanying plan of action, confusion will be prevented, and the chances of achieving team objectives will be increased.

A key factor to consider when devising a strategy for testing is the end-consumer. How will the user be consuming the software in question? Via the web, a back end system, or via their mobile? This leads to the consideration between web and mobile automation. It’s up to you and your team to decide where the most return on investment from automation can be seen and focus your efforts there. You may find that your software is used cross-device, and therefore separate mobile and web automation strategies will be beneficial.

Another critical point to consider is how much of the testing should be automated. As much as is technically possible? Alternatively, just the most repetitive, time-consuming test cases? Again, the best approach here is to determine perceived value, which can be in the form of testing hours saved, accuracy or importance. Ultimately, before testing or deciding on the tool-set you intend to use, you should map out your entire test coverage area and understand the cases that you want to automate and those that you want to test manually, then analyse again. You may find that some manual test cases can be more efficiently tested through automated methods or vice-versa.

2. Opt for reliable, practical and trustworthy testing tools

When testing software, accuracy and reliability is everything. The results you obtain are very much reliant on the test tool you choose to trust. An incompetent test tool has the potential to significantly impact the accuracy and reliability of your tests, meaning that you will be less useful in identifying bugs or issues with the software, which is bad news for everyone.

Firstly, when deciding on an automation tool, there is a common choice between open-source or licensed software. Open-source tools, such as Selenium, are free to use; however, the drawback is the lack of support or documentation, which calls for extensive in-house expertise to effectively set-up and use the tool. On the other hand, licensed software such as Microfocus UFT (Unified Functional Testing) will feature comprehensive support and documentation to make integration and set up more seamless, however, often come with hefty price tags.

Whichever route you decide to go down, referring back to the strategy and understand what you want to test (mobile vs web) and when in the development lifecycle you want to test has a significant impact on tool choice. Additionally, when using an automation tool, a well-thought-out automation framework needs to be created. The design of this automation framework is critical to the reliability and effectiveness of the chosen tool. This framework can also then be applied to your CI (continuous integration) environment to automate the running of tests based on development submissions.

Finally, a quick-win tip before going live with any automation setup is to carry out mini test scenarios that you know the expected results of to test the robustness of the tool and the design of the framework in place.

3. Try modular testing

When implementing continuous testing, rushing to create sophisticated test suites can sometimes do more harm than good. If you start simple and add new tests as you go, it will prevent the wasting of time on analysing false positives and negatives and enhance the reliability of your findings.

If you find yourself in a situation where you have a series of broken tests or tests that lack a cohesive structure, it may be worth exploring the option of modular testing. By breaking up the fragments of your tests, for example, test data and test flow, you can simplify code refactoring, and you don’t have to refresh the parts that aren’t directly linked to the software that is undergoing testing.

4. Visualise results clearly

They say that a picture paints a thousand words. While artistic references may not automatically come to mind when talking about software testing, this concept is relevant. When evaluating test results and analysing potential causes of failure, it’s hugely beneficial to utilise charts and graphs. Tools like Test Rail make this process seamless. This will enable you to get a more detailed view of the interactions involved in the testing process and clarify the results, making it easier to determine the root cause of the test failure and areas for concern.

5. Defect reporting

Defect reporting is a significant component of the day-to-day responsibilities of a modern-day tester, and for a good reason. Without the reporting of defects or bugs within the software, there isn’t a call to action for development teams and product owners. However, unless defect reporting is carried out systematically and with a robust approach, it’s easy to get lost.

The best way to tackle defect reporting is to use software, such as Atlassian’s Jira. Not only can bugs be visible to cross-department teams, but the resolution of those bugs can be automatically assigned. An additional tip: when reporting bugs within bug tracking software platforms, utilising images and screenshots helps add visual reference points and the makes reproduction easier.

Continuous testing can be incredibly useful, but to maximise value, it pays to be aware of best practice guidelines and to learn how to adapt them to suit individual requirements. Carrying out tests continually is not always guaranteed to achieve the objectives set out at the beginning of the testing process, and these tips should help you improve your testing strategy. Make plans that are clear and cohesive, eliminate tests that don’t serve a purpose, monitor the performance, consider modular testing, utilise visualisations and screenshots and ensure you use reliable testing tools.

These guidelines will help to save time and effort at the same time as ensuring you get the best out of continuous testing. If you would like to discuss your current continuous testing approach or want to learn more about its benefits contact us.