Quality assurance teams are no strangers to change. From mobile to Agile, they've seen their industry abruptly change course a number of times in the past decade alone. Just when they get a handle on one new development, another one springs up, necessitating a total overhaul of test management strategies. Some of the latest trends that software testers have had to adapt to in recent years are DevOps and continuous testing.
At its core, DevOps speaks to the need to tear down the walls separating developers and operations teams, facilitating collaboration, and blurring the lines between those roles. That sounds like a great idea on paper, and when executed properly, DevOps can drastically improve the production process. The only problem is many companies have stumbled mightily when rolling out their DevOps initiatives, causing confusion and often further headaches for everyone involved.
Collaboration is Key
As QA manager and Software Testing Help contributor Aniket Deshpande noted, with DevOps, businesses are trying to seamlessly integrate every aspect of the production cycle, from development and testing to operations. Keeping up with the constant state of activity in a DevOps environment requires a drastic shift in the way that organizations approach QA management. Organizations that have previously embraced Agile methods may have a leg up in this regard, as there is a fair amount of overlap between those practices and effective DevOps. Both require teams to work quickly and collaborate with one another to produce higher-quality final products.
A good first step for any organization looking to get the most out of their DevOps setups is to implement a test management solution that will provide project stakeholders with a platform for collaboration. These tools should facilitate asset- and resource-sharing for everyone involved in a project from programmers and testers to operations team members. One of the main goals of DevOps is to eliminate IT cultures where developers and operations teams work in relative isolation and throw software over the wall when one side has completed a particular task. With collaborative test management software, team members can stay in constant contact with one another and view project progress at any time. This ensures that every single stakeholder knows precisely where a project stands and who to work with on any particular aspect of the production's process.
Meeting Automation and Continuous Testing Needs
Because DevOps stresses project delivery speed, QA teams will need to be especially cognizant of opportunities to carry out their testing responsibilities as fast as possible without affecting the quality of their work. One major wrinkle here is that because other stakeholders are consistently revising software and adding new features, keeping pace with those developments will be impossible with traditional testing methods. In a DZone article, veteran ops engineer Ragnar Lönn explained that to facilitate the DevOps process, QA teams should implement two key assets: automation and DevOps continuous testing processes.
"It's barely viable to repeat all tests every time a new feature is added, so the continuous testing strategy fosters a company-wide cultural change to achieve four capabilities: test early, test faster, test often, and automate," Lönn wrote. "End-to-end test automation practices are intended to integrate QA into existing fast-paced Dev and Ops processes as a means to create continuity while maintaining faster development cycles."
QA teams should already be using automated test scripts whenever possible to reduce the strain of manual testing and to quickly identify software defects. DevOps has further stressed the importance of these QA assets, however, and project managers should look to use them more often. Ideally, automation should be incorporated into every facet of the production cycle. By using these tools with greater frequency, project teams stand a better chance of keeping pace with the rate of development, resulting in new features being created, vetted and implemented faster than ever before.
Take Continuous Testing to the Next Level
Continuous testing goes beyond running automated test scripts on everything that lands in the laps of QA teams, however. As Lönn explained, effective continuous testing is characterized by the evaluation and analysis of software performance and quality at every stage of development. These tasks are carried out by various teams, including developers, testers and operations members. To facilitate this process, these teams should share the testing tools they use with one another. Then, individual team members can alter those testing resources to fit their specific needs and aims. Operations may require entirely different functionality out of a test script when taking a look at software in the staging phase than a developer might at the outset of production.
Sharing test tools in this way necessitates an effective collaborative test management platform. Because these resources need to be disseminated between various teams, it's important that organizations choose a solution designed to provide comprehensive coverage. All stakeholders should be able to upload and access test scripts and other resources on an as-needed basis. In this way, they can appropriately conduct continuous testing and align those efforts with their overall DevOps strategy.