Tech projects either work or they don't. Halfway doesn't cut it. 99% there usually won't cut it either. I've worked with tech project clients closely as we try to meet deadlines and we've been 99% there, but that doesn't always comfort the nervous client who feels that if you roll the project out tomorrow and they signoff and pay that final invoice that you'll actually be around to fix the other 1% three weeks from now.
Quality is not only critical to customer satisfaction, project success, development, and design of an end user solution, it is also something that should be checked, re-checked, and reported on in detail in any project delivery initiative. At the very basis of quality delivery is thorough testing prior to delivery. In tech projects, that can be subsystem testing, system testing, user acceptance testing (UAT), or final testing prior to solution delivery or handoff. It's all about test, test, and retest. Can you test too much? Not really. That's why we should consider an option called Continuous Testing.
What is Continuous Testing?
Continuous Testing is defined as a Software Testing type that involves a process of testing early, testing often, testing everywhere, and automating your testing. It is a emphasizes on evaluating quality at every step of the Continuous Delivery process.
In Agile, where software is frequently released to production, it is extremely important ensure that the software is of high quality throughout the development. Testing needs to happen early in Agile because as development is ongoing, requirements are often being added and revised, and sprints are happening in which functionality is being user tested and then released to the end users. It is critical that organizations ensure that the requirements are both correct and detailed enough for the design and development of the software. In this case, the best scenario is to test throughout development and not leave testing until just before the release.
We’ve identified 5 best practices for implementing Continuous Testing into your Software Development Life Cycle so that you can not only improve your testing, but also your overall software quality. They are:
- Know the business goals and processes
- Excellent collaboration between developers and testers
- Choose the best software for your niche
- Incorporate appropriate quality analysis
- Make it automated
Let's examine each of these in more detail.
Know the Business Goals and Processes
Continuous Testing means testing early and frequently. In order for our CT processes to be effective for the overall business, we must ensure that we receive all requirements from the business before we begin our development. Here are some tips for this:
- Building a close relationship with the Business Analysts—this is important for QA!
- Eliminating vagueness from user stories is important—you need to make sure the user story includes (a) a clear set of acceptance criteria, and (b) that it is testable.
- Ignoring non-Functional Testing can be risky as it can hamper security and performance.
- Building meaningful and important End-to-End Test scenarios should be emphasized significantly; you can do so by utilizing data, analytics, and trends from the production website in order to collect information about user journeys and activities throughout the application.
- Focus on providing value for the business by organizing testing in a Lean manner. Failure to drive this concept can lead to delays, frustration, and costly miscommunication. Communication is essential to making sure that everyone on the team is on the same page about what is being tested.
Excellent Collaboration Between Developers and Testers
Developers test the software over, and over, and over again. Eventually, though, there are system tests and user acceptance test scenarios that are performed by dedicated teams who are assigned to match requirements to the end functionality and proper outputs. Collaboration here is key to ensure requirements are tested properly and that the end product is acceptable to be used by the end users. To boost collaboration between developers and testers, try implementing these ideas:
- Pairing testers with developers is important to ensure effective Unit Testing is executed.
- Reducing unnecessary testing artifacts—like carrying out extensive test cases and test plans—should be kept in mind.
- Adapting a more investigative attitude towards testing while testing manually can be helpful
Choose the Best Software for Your Niche
Your organization has its own unique goals, mission, requirements, and end user demands. There are copious amounts of software options out there to explore, and finding the right fit can be a challenge! The best way to find the right software for you is to demo the software yourself; use trials and assign a team to explore and evaluate the many options. This’ll help you find a solution that scales with your needs. When choosing a software, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Continuous Testing can be extremely helpful in providing an error-free solution—especially in the mobile app niche, where businesses often try to differentiate themselves from their competition.
- Choosing the best solution that matches business goals and mission and scales with the projects and business initiatives can provide the best long-term success
- Reporting is key to testing success! Choose a Continuous Testing solution that provides both an informative dashboard for not only management and top-level sponsors, but the “down and dirty” project teams and developers as well.
Incorporate Appropriate Quality Analysis
Whether quality assurance is all hands-on, partially, or fully automated, it remains a key aspect of any testing solution. This is especially true of a Continuous Testing solution, as the organization is looking to justify its transition to and reliance upon this potential answer to delivering the highest-quality end product. No matter your quality assurance process, you need to make sure you remember the following:
- Quality analysis and assurance in testing is critical to project success and customer satisfaction.
- Detailed reporting of quality is key to fast compliance and understanding of quality delivery and acceptance.
- Automated quality reporting through the right software is important to keep costs in check and eliminate increased potential for human error or subjective reporting of results—which work to increase management and customer confidence.
Make it Automated
Continuous Testing follows the test early and test often approach. Automated Testing is useful in order to get quick feedback on the application quality. When incorporating Automation, here are some tips:
- Making Test Automation a responsibility of both developers and testers is imperative.
- Knowing when to automate tests and when to leave them as manual is critical for an effective and speedy delivery.
- Running automated tests from a CI server is significant
- Automating new functionality and stories along development instead of leaving them for later should be the ultimate goal.
- Forget pilot / sandbox deployments to QA for testing; automate to test environments for best enablement of Continuous Testing.
- Human involvement in processes should be eliminated as much as possible—automate whatever can be automated!
- Standardize the test environments.
- Scale Automated Testing for best and most reliable results.
Summary / call for input
Continuous Testing has proved to be a major asset to organizations who are looking to accelerate their software development and release schedules, especially in mobile app scenarios as mentioned above. It can prove critically helpful in fulfilling delivery schedules in time and boost the software development process. As mentioned above, appropriate reporting is key in order to enable enterprise wide buy-in, adaptation and understanding. And never stray from the mentality of test, test and retest. You'll never be sorry for overtesting if budget allows. You will almost always be sorry for not testing enough.
So, what is your take on Continuous Testing? Do you agree with what we recommend? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Or, perhaps you’re looking into implementing Continuous Testing for your testing process—and we’re here to help! At LogiGear, we’ve been a leader in Silicon Valley Testing Expertise for over 25 years. We have loads of resources available to you over on our website. Remember: test early and test often, and when in doubt, think of your customers and the satisfaction they’ll receive from high-quality releases.