Agile software development is quickly becoming an art form among teams everywhere, and it's more important than ever to get it right to support user needs. People now expect to have quality apps made quickly — if any defects emerge, these must be patched as soon as they're detected, or it could affect the program's success. This all places a ton of pressure on the shoulders of quality assurance professionals.
In order to simplify workflows and create a reliable stream of delivery, many organizations have sought automation integration for their development processes. However, this journey is not always easy to pursue, and there are a number of potential risks that can affect business operations. By following these four tips, you'll be able to eliminate risks in test automation and ensure that you are effectively supporting your teams with the best plan of action.
Evaluate What Should Be Automated
One of the most common mistakes to make is assuming that everything should be automated. While it's true that there are a number of test cases that lend themselves to automation, there are still some processes that need to be executed manually. For example, a test that is highly repeatable across a project or set of initiatives is a great candidate for automation. However, anything like exploratory testing or GUI evaluation will require a tester to perform tests and make changes accordingly.
The two types of cases are markedly different. With automated tests, computers can easily find bugs within the code and notify teams if any issues appear. If a user interface was evaluated the same way, the automation tool would just look at the underlying code instead of how it actually functions, leaving room for major errors in performance. By considering which elements should be automated, testers allow themselves to focus more on the elements that will matter to users like navigation, appearance and overall experience.
Consider Expected Quality Levels
Each app comes with a different set of requirements, so QA must consider what quality level to strive for according to the user base. As Methods & Tools contributor Hans Schaefer pointed out, some projects — like medical instruments or air navigation systems — need to provide certain levels of quality, but this may not be the most important factor for the commercial marketplace. Based on what the project is being used for, teams may have some wiggle room for error, while others do not have such a luxury. No matter what quality you're striving for, you should thoroughly test the most critical and worst parts of the product to keep improving performance and eliminate defects before they emerge.
When conducting software testing for different quality levels, you should prioritize elements according to how their performance affects the overall project. For example, a failure of one asset could be catastrophic, while a failure of a different feature could merely be annoying. Categorizing in this way will help teams deal with issues faster and ensure that no critical components are jeopardized by vulnerabilities.
Constantly Maintain Tests
Automation is not a one-and-done project — it's a full-time job that requires continual revisions to processes and test cases. Not only do you have to add in new tests as they appear, but you also have to vet the old ones to ensure that they remain relevant. If a test is no longer useable, teams then have to either delete it or revise it to match current needs. However, as Agile Engineering Design noted, sometimes QA teams are too lazy to maintain automated tests, putting them at risk of failing and releasing a sub-par quality application. Without constant evaluation, teams can become frustrated with slow, brittle or unreliable tests.
To prevent falling into this trap, teams should reevaluate their tests during each sprint. Doing so will help gain rapid feedback about the health of the system and ensure that everyone is using updated test cases. This will also eliminate potential false positives and provide reliable results every time to work off of.
Utilize Comprehensive Tools
With the amount of tests you need to run, you'll need some capable assets that bring the team together and handle every aspect of the testing lifecycle. Test management tools can provide this type of functionality. This solution prioritizes test cases and results on one platform to ensure that all collaborating parties are on the same page. Using this offering, teams can easily share feedback and make changes without worrying about redundancy. These assets can organize projects and assign automated workloads appropriately, giving testers peace of mind that their cases are running when they need to.
As software development becomes more complex, automation is seen as an answer to help support agile efforts. With these tips, teams can eliminate risks that come with test automation and ensure that they are delivering a quality product every time.