Continuous Testing: The Fast and Efficient Way to Keep Your Business Risks in Sight
Here’s what you need to know about continuous testing from Qualitest’s SVP John Sumner. He’s even included a list of questions to help you assess if continuous testing is right for you.
As software continues to drive differentiation in the marketplace, organizations expect software delivery teams to continuously improve efficiency while maintaining quality.
This need for reduced time to market encourages changes to the delivery approach, including implementation of Agile methodologies, DevOps and continuous delivery – all in the effort to improve the efficiency of your development lifecycle. Inclusive of this is a drive to integrate quality engineering to ensure business risks are highlighted early and provide early visibility of quality.
What are the goals of continuous testing?
The ultimate goal for continuous testing is to increase the efficiency and provide early feedback on build quality for any potential release, focused on business risk. Determining risk efficiently allows you to react to challenges at a greater pace while also ensuring that any released software isn’t going to impact customer expectations.
Given the approach to ensure testing is continuously executed and as early as possible in the software delivery process, there are many goals related to testing maturity and automation to deliver continuous testing. But the circling back to the goal, testing, needs to be continuous and integrated across the development lifecycle.
Is QA still a bottleneck?
Even with newer methodologies in software development, there can be perceived delays in the QA and testing processes, even when DevOps exists. This leads to a tradeoff between quality and speed.
Continuous testing introduces the approach to minimize this and encourages a foundation of metrics and monitoring to ensure that you are always aware of any risks to your product quality.
Quality can be hard to achieve
Without tool modernization and the application of these tools in a continuous manner, quality is hard to maintain. Demand for successful delivery continuously and competition in the digital marketplace impose ever-increasing demands on delivering software, and even integrated solutions. With digital platforms and technologies ever increasing, the need for efficient and continuous testing practices and implementations has never been greater.
Continuous testing takes everything we know about testing and leverages it into a solution for driving efficiency while maintaining the testing and QA practices that define what good looks like. Continuous testing is more than continuous automation or shift-left testing, it’s the cumulation of many areas that impact quality into a platform capable of handling the testing capacity of an organization.
What does continuous testing involve?
To understand what continuous testing is, it’s also important to understand what it isn’t.
- Test automation
- Continuous integration
- Unit testing
- Executed in test environments
- Led only by QA and testing teams
If continuous testing had to be condensed into a single statement, it would be the practice of testing across every activity in the delivery lifecycle to uncover and correct changes in quality as they are introduced.
Taking any delivery requirements, both functional and nonfunctional, and applying the right testing process is just the beginning. Ensuring that testing is not just focused on functional requirements, but nonfunctional requirements too is also important. Likewise, transitioning through the delivery cycle as automated as possible is important, but also making sure that coverage is aligned is a true differentiator in continuous testing.
Testing everything all the time is one of the largest bottlenecks in testing. Providing early but concise testing approaches in an automated fashion really transforms any software delivery lifecycle into something that can be relied upon, trusted and adopted.
Driving the need for continuous testing
Sometimes challenges are presented in organizations and isolated fixes are introduced, often with the original challenge presenting itself again in future. So, ask yourself this:
- Do you have challenges in dependencies during software development?
- Do you find yourself fixing defects because of backlogs generated late in the release process?
- Do you have a lot of manual testing coverage?
- Do you have the right platforms and environments in which to test?
- Do you have all the data you need to test?
- Are you restricted by the use of remote or third-party services for testing?
- Are you happy with the time to market for new features?
- Do you suffer challenges with configuration changes impacting deliveries?
- Is your product performant and secure?
These are just some of the areas that continuous testing as a practice covers. If these are your challenges, then perhaps it’s time to review and see how continuous testing can improve your approach to delivering your product to market.
Continuous testing is more than just a tool. It’s about integrating people, process and technology further into the delivery lifecycle to generate an effective pipeline to deliver the product based on business risk. This could be seen as the right process, the right practices, the right toolset, but continuous testing has to encompass them all.
Working together as a single function focused on quality is a key driver to success, as is integrating as much as possible into early stages of the pipeline. Reducing the requirement to test everything at the end, even if it’s all test automation, maintains an efficient testing lifecycle.
However, the key is visibility. “Enough to assure, fast enough to adapt,” is the mantra that continuous testing offers. Providing early visibility on risks to the business is key in this regard, but also responding to those risks is important. This can change even the simplest of quality processes, like defect management and reviews.
Another point to highlight here, is that continuous testing is not an implementation that requires a new way of working most of the time. It’s an evolution of testing processes which are all still required; it’s as much about automated communication as it is about test automation.
Overall, continuous testing adopts your history, adopts your ways of working and your situation and applies efficiency to them, leveraging tools, process updates and new skills to increase efficiency and, therefore, time to market.
Here, the other important takeaway is that continuous testing is not a quick fix. It’s a business decision to evolve the delivery lifecycle, and it involves more than the testing team. To adopt continuous testing can mean changes to processes outside of testing into wider QA areas. This needs to be supported by the business as a whole. Continuous testing can be adopted over time and with the right approach drive progressive value.
Your next steps
Continuous testing provides you with the ability to improve speed and efficiency in quality assurance, driving the best from quality engineering and maximizing your time to focus on delivering to your customers.
At Qualitest, our continuous testing fabric along with our experts provide an all-round solution for implementing continuous testing, regardless of the current state. We adopt our own Access, Calibrate and Scale approach, ensuring we consider the investments made so far in defining, designing and implementing your continuous testing journey.
Whether it’s support to initially leverage continuous testing into your organization or implement new tools and processes, to expanding your testing skillset, Qualitest has everything you need.