As technology progresses, the software industry has also gone through a revolutionary change in its methodologies of doing business and delivering better products to the customer. In my opinion, the revolution was stepping down from the old Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) project management technique to a more scalable and extensible way of project management, and by this I mean Agile project management techniques.
In this blog, I won’t be discussing much about project management techniques. Bringing in agile software development techniques means that the team has to constantly and productively deliver continuous development to the product and a satisfactory product outcome to the customer. It is the job of quality control or the quality analyst team to make sure that the software goes out defect-free.
Today, most software is web based, by which I mean it is hosted on the cloud and popularly known as web apps. The end user can access it from anywhere and it does not have to be a packaged software or a remote desktop application that needs to be present on your machine locally. When I started doing automation for my first project, which was a web app-based on Drupal, I found out that automation has immense importance in the way a product is delivered to the client. Now, this does not mean you won’t be needing any manual effort at all. You still have to see a few of the critical case functionalities by manually going through it, but it does reduce 90% of the effort for the quality control or quality analyst personnel. Consider the fact that each time a feature is built or some code is pushed onto the required system, you have to do a full regression test to see that the new functionalities developed have not impacted any of the functionalities that are already present in the system. Now, this can be done by anybody, but the question is, would you like it if you had to do the same thing a hundred times? And sometimes it may be possible that the tester skips functionalities mistakenly, so it's unknown whether the functionality has been tested or not.
Here comes the role of automation, which can help not only the analyst or the QC team, but the product manager and the development team as well. By this I mean that at the end of the automation tests, the whole team has a report in hand which clearly specifies what functionalities have passed the test and what functionalities have not, thus giving a clear idea to the development team that what functionalities the team needs to focus on. Besides that, it reduces much as half of the effort of the tester because half of his/her work has been already been done by the automation code. Isn’t this interesting? Now if you start checking from the first test case when a deployment has been done from a developer’s side, you can simply run your test cases configured in the system and can just forward the test reports to your manager or the client. The client also gets to understand how stable his/her product is and whether it can be sustained in the long run.
Test automation can improve the development process of software products in many cases. The automation of tests is initially associated with increased effort, but the related benefits will quickly pay off. Automated tests can run fast and frequently, which is cost effective for software products with a long maintenance life. When testing in an agile environment, the ability to quickly react to ever-changing software systems and requirements are necessary. New test cases based on updated features can be added simultaneously to automation in parallel to the development of the software itself.
Automated regression tests, which also ensure continuous system stability and functionality after changes to the software are made, also lead to a shorter development cycle combined with better quality software, and thus the benefits of automated software testing help quickly outweigh the initial costs.
All kinds of testing in the STL (Software Testing Life) cycle can be handled by automation, depending on the project and its other aspects such as ETA, sprints, and deployment. The quality control team definitely needs to do an ROI before even starting automation, since the client needs to be sure that the time and the effort investment put into developing an automation framework will do the project any good. With my experience in the IT industry, over a year, automation does give an edge to continuous project management and delivery. It's quite scalable because you can use any language to get started with an automation framework, since you have APIs relevant for each of your libraries and packages.