Hastening software delivery without compromising on quality with test automation

“Let’s automate.” “Yeah, it paid off.” We hear it everywhere about test automation. In this article, software testing company a1qa sheds light on its main perks, how to jump-start its adoption, and its role in continuous and shift-lest testing.

"And overall, what we have seen with Acronis is that the fastest growing partners are the ones who have integrations with us. With a multitude of applications and different software that companies are using – integration is the key to decrease the TCO (total cost of ownership).The future is in integration, the future is in having that one system that understands what is happening, and if something did happen, it should automatically restore the data. Right now, different analytics reports take nearly six months to detect that some data breach has occurred. It takes a company six months to realize that their data is compromised, and by then, most of the losses have already been incurred." told  Katya Ivanova – Vice-President, Worldwide Inside Sales, Acronis, at the recent interview at Daily Host News.  

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The vital part of each software development lifecycle is quality assurance (QA). Sometimes the processes aren't simple, and sometimes you may not have enough internal resources.
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“Quality at speed” notion isn’t the big news anymore: pervasive Agile and DevOps ecosystems have triggered businesses to seek solutions for a fast-tracked product rollout. But then the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, and time-to-market pressure became overwhelming.

Therefore, all eyes are on test automation now. According to the MarketsandMarkets’ research, the global automation role is expected to double by 2024 and comprise USD 28.8 billion. When applied wisely, it can surmount the speed hurdle leaving the space for introducing innovations and reducing business expenses.

However, the World Quality Report 2020-2021 states its implementation places a heavy burden on many respondents that have confronted the following challenges:

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And the numbers are only increasing each year. In this article, we’ll focus on test automation perks, steps to jump-start its adoption, common tools including an in-house framework we’ve developed to ease ecosystem maintenance, and touch upon automation role in continuous and shift-lest testing.

Automation gravity

Leadership teams can leverage the range of priorities essential to business development.

  • Reduce time-to-market. Ongoing execution of test cases with minimal manual intervention contributes to faster new features development and validation curtailing release time.
  • Grow ROI. More effort can be focused on innovations by assigning fewer QA associates and mitigating the number of manual tasks.  
  • Provide robust product quality. Software proficiency is attained due to diminished human error rate and rectifying glitches early in the SDLC.  
  • Improve productivity. A sharp drop in time required for running tests unleashes QA teams’ potential to concentrate on other complementary tasks like UX, UI assessment, ad hoc, exploratory checks, and more.  
  • Boost test coverage. New scripts can be easily embedded into existing workflow extending the space for product enhancement.  

With all that said, this service increases brand recall and enables higher customer retention, as organizations refocus the efforts saved on product advancement.

Pillars of thoughtful adoption

With the advent of DevOps and continuous integration, embracing test automation is a must. For that, a holistic strategy comprising the below-mentioned steps can come in handy.  

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Step 1. Develop a rock-solid road map

The transition from manual testing to automation is impossible without defining the scope for automated testing. Keep in mind that 100% automation is a myth, so analyze your project specifics first. If you face frequent releases, smoke and regression testing are the prime candidates. Business needs comprise an impactful factor as well: by considering them, the team can prioritize functionality to be automated first.

Step 2. Specify precarious scope for automation

Taking into account the first point, particular testing types may bring better outcomes when performed manually. Here we may speak of accessibility, UX, and exploratory testing. Not a single tool can gauge an accessibility level of a website, at least yet. Similarly, our emotions or overall experience while leveraging an app can’t be fully tracked using automated tools.

Step 3. Pinpoint the proper technology

An application type — web/mobile, IoT-based, blockchain app, and more — as well as your teams’ proficiency level largely determine the programming language and toolkit that form the basis for automation. Budget constraints may also influence the final decision, and it’s the optimal decision when open-source tools can provide a single interface for all the testing needs.

Step 4. Opt for the suitable grid landscape

A grid infrastructure type — on-premises or cloud — encompasses diverse devices, browsers, operating systems, and directly influences the overall test automation expenses. Undoubtedly, the cloud ecosystem is a win-win way due to high accessibility from any location and huge scaling capacity.

Step 5. Build quality test data

To create reusable, high-granularity test cases with business risks in mind, you need to apply only quality and relevant data. Invalid inputs for testing negative results and unsupported formats can significantly amplify testing areas.

Step 6. Adjust to evolving requirements

Over time, apps interface advancement can inevitably cause test cases modification. To eliminate the complete rearrangement of a testing process, an automation tool should support updates or placing control captions around the naming system.

Toolkit to support the transformation

Test automation tools compose a business-critical area for developing a scalable solution matching your business needs.

The current trends require organizations to leverage tools supporting API and offering some AI/ML components to boost test optimization capabilities and focus on intelligent test generation, execution, reporting. Fit-for-purpose cases incorporate:

  • TestComplete — automated UI testing
  • Selenium — web browser testing
  • SoapUI — API and services testing
  • ApacheJMeter — functional and performance testing
  • Tosca — continuous testing.

Following this tendency, analyzing feedback from the clients, and considering their QA pain points, a1qa has developed a proprietary open-source test automation framework — Aquality Automation.

It serves to ease automation implementation, enables 24-hour ecosystem support, and provides integration with development tools. Embedded AI-based elements define the root cause of test failures.

Automation value for continuous and shift-left testing

If your team is contemplating ramping up a CI/CD pipeline, then it’s high time to integrate test automation to perform more tests and free up the human testers, so that they could focus only on what needs to be checked manually, such as new features.

Timely built-in test automation ensures:

  1. Faster results — as parallel tests execution shortens overall process duration.
  2. Increased agility — due to the adjustment of frameworks and effective tools to meet evolving requirements.  
  3. Additional testing time — as manual testers can invest their efforts in value-add activities.  
  4. Simplified record of changes — because of the alleviation of manual testing routing tasks, the team can continuously introduce enhancements and test them properly.  

Shift-left testing is about moving the QA process earlier in the development cycle, and it should embrace test automation activities. By automating the deployment of new builds and test runs for each code increment, organizations can reduce the pressure on the testing teams and faster obtain feedback about code stability, not to mention glitches detection earlier in the SDLC.

Summing it all up

Considering the current global situation, placing a time-to-market issue on the back-burner may become a critical mistake.

Only by curtailing product delivery time and working out a well-thought QA strategy encompassing test automation implementation, businesses can surmount confronting hurdles and prolong companies’ advancement.

Updated
Stas Pavlov
Technology Evangelist
Mihail Urbanovich
Head of QA department, a1qa
Acronis Developer Network
Acronis Cyber Platform