With the tremendous growth in agile methodology, guidelines for test automation are specifically significant. While it is important to use effective techniques that yield in a high return on investment (ROI), such approach works only once one is aware of the numerous techniques available. Being mindful of various guidelines helps in narrowing down the most suitable technique for the current automation process.
Here, we take a look at some of the top guidelines for test automation in an agile environment.
Backlog for Test Automation
A backlog for test automation helps maintain efficiency throughout the testing process. It helps get a detailed overview of the identified improvements and highlights all the automation tasks. As the backlog items are targeted, soon enough their completion lays the foundation for a new regression test suite. Certain tasks, however, might require developers to work on the code, or the product owner to buy-in, in order to proceed further with the task. However, when the whole team is committed to quality and lists it all down in the backlog with clarity, it would become easier to rope-in developers and product owners.
Tools Are the Necessary Means
Although frameworks and tools go a long way in effective automation of the testing process, they are not the true objective of your testing efforts. The real objective here is to aid the development and design processes by providing feedback rapidly. This helps keep a reality check on the scope of the project, and the consecutive expectations. This allows stakeholders to make informed decisions regarding the project. Hence, it is important to not obsess over the automation of tools, which are only the means yet not the end objective.
Another important point to keep in mind is to keep the testing process and the test data tool-agnostic. Essentially, this means that the selected tool for test automation should interfere with the process at a bare minimum, such that the process can be easily implemented and the code can be well-maintained. This also gives space to change your testing tool midway, which would not be possible if the tool had strong coupling with the test data.
Do Not Limit to Local Machine
While designing automated tests for your project, you should be ensuring that your local machine is not the only place where the tests can run. It is crucial that the entire team gains access, and is able to execute the tests with the push of a button. If in case there is a requirement to execute the test after committing to multiple changes, the tests should be executed and prompt feedback should be given. Hosting the automated test suite on an external server is ideal, with wiring it so that it can run as part of a continuous integration (CI) environment. It is also recommended to run the tests regularly, and the latest execution status of the tests can be periodically notified to everyone. This assures robustness of the test suite.
Time for Execution
Run time of the test suite is of critical concern. When the time taken for execution is much longer than an ideal optimum, it is of no value-add because the subsequent feedback is also impacted, and takes time. Gradually, team members will stop using it, since its usage will be detrimental to the testing process. There are methods that can help maintain the speed of the test cases and help with the quick feedback cycles. Additionally, test cases can be labeled and run choosily, established on the component/feature that is currently being worked upon. The capability to run particular tests will massively save execution time, more so if the test suite in question is considerably large, and when running the complete test suite does not make much sense in the given context.
Green Is the Way to Go
Regularly ensuring that all the tests in the test suite are running successfully is essential. Occasionally, tests fail for foreseeable reasons, whether it is because a part of the system is unavailable or because a fix is underway. In such a situation, the tests labeled as “failures” can be easily skipped and ignored, thus saving valuable time. This also prevents the test suite from collapsing and continues to allow the execution of the rest of the test cases. It is important to keep in mind that the bug-fixing needs to take place soon after the bugs are detected. It is much easier to address issues immediately after their detection, especially in the case of recent code modification. It is also important to also periodically verify the seemingly smooth test suites because there is a danger that they can create a false sense of security. Testing of the test code to a certain extent is recommended, in order to guarantee the reliable and robust working of the automated tests.
Reporting effectively takes time but is an extremely effective process. Failures and errors during the testing process when reported in a clear manner, can drive faster results at a later stage of bug-fixing. Making he reports visual is an added bonus and gives a better understanding of the situation. However, it is vital to keep the reports simple, to make the comprehension easier and the bug-fixing more effective.