Keeping Your Testing and Automation Strategy Relevant
“Evolution is the secret for the next step” – Karl Lagerfeld
The need to change and the ability to adapt to change has been the reason why today, we have grown so much. Without going into the details of human evolution, which will not find relevance in this piece, we want to mention the evolution of technology and how phenomenally it has grown over the last few decades. This growth is only because someone, at some time, identified a ‘chance’ of growth…of doing something better. Bringing about all this change was not easy, yet it was essential and imperative in order to stay relevant.
Just like everything else, change is also essential for a Test automation strategy to stay relevant. Considering the dynamic business environment that we have today where technology changes and advancements are the norm, frequent product upgrades and product evolution are inevitable in order to stay relevant and ahead of the curve. Keeping this in mind, it is imperative that in order to ensure a high-performing and flawless product, having a strong testing strategy is a must. Since the consumer does not have the time, energy or bandwidth to deal with a product riddled with bugs that lead to slow performance, testing assumes an even more important role. For testing professionals, thus, this means building a testing suite that can enable this change.
- Much like testing an inventory, testing professionals too, have to look at the overall test strategy as well as the detailed test plans and test cases to identify which test plans will remain relevant in the long run and which plans will become obsolete. Taking this big picture view, with an eye out for the details, on a regular basis thus becomes essential to release upgraded products that are bug-free and with development costs under control.
- When there is a product upgrade, changing the entire test strategy can become a problem that can snowball into a big expense. Much like product development, having a monolithic test plan with many interconnected parts only slows down the process, since if one test fails the entire testing suite comes to a halt. Having smaller and independent test cases addresses this problem and increases the efficiency of the testing suite.
- One more key element is the test data being considered. As the product evolves, the conditions it operates under will change and the testing has to address those changed conditions. Creation of test data to assess which tests can do so, getting frequent data dumps from the production team, assessing how the test can be spread the tests to other environments, using data dumps from production to access relevant test data are some issues that test automation suits should cover to ensure pertinence.
- Then the big item – test automation! What must be considered is the level of automation incorporated into the overall testing strategy. There has to be a healthy balance of manual and automated testing. Test cases that have to be repeated continually, cases that are manually time-consuming and need a speed of execution or cases that are difficult to perform manually are ripe for automation.
- One way to ensure continued evolution of the automation suite, in line with the evolution of the product it is testing, is to consider the test automation suite too as a product; one that needs frequent iterations and upgrades. Keeping this relevant starts with selecting the right testing tool, designing the framework and features, test bed preparation, scheduling and timeline management and iterating the deliverables of the testing automation are some of the key contributors of a successful test automation strategy that stays relevant. Along with this, testers have to focus on the maintainability of the testing automation suite so that when the product changes, your test automation suite can adapt to that change and deliver what is expected with minimal effort. Just as software needs to be maintained, a test automation suite, too, needs maintenance. Thus, treating your testing assets like any other piece of software becomes a critical contributor to the relevance of the test automation suite. Charting the lifecycle of the testing suite, much like software maintenance, and identifying maintenance needs such as preventive maintenance, corrective maintenance, and adaptive maintenance are important for the longevity of a test automation suite.
- Creating test automation suites that anticipate, or allow, changes in the UI also ensures that the test automation suite can work with future versions of the product. To make this happen, some of the things that testers can do are build test suites that divide the test into individual parts, allow keyword-driven testing and support multiple scripting languages amongst others. What testers need to bear in mind at all times is, that for dependable test automation suites assessing the validity of the testing suite with each product iteration reduces the burden of test maintenance. Adding the needed tests and removing the ones that are redundant on a proactive basis after each product release increases the life of the test automation suite.
By building a strong test strategy that can remain relevant for a long time, testers provide developers the confidence to refactor legacy code and build solid and stronger products. Building a strong test strategy or a robust automation suite is a labor of love for testers that needs a lot of thought and nurturing. Once that is achieved, the test automation suite and the tester want nothing more than to live happily ever after.