Gordon Cullum, CTO, Mastek
In the digital world where practices such as Agile and DevOps are increasingly taking centre stage, robust, high quality software testing is integral to success. However, as software projects increase in complexity and size, customers and users tend to get demanding when there is a need to contain costs and release on time. This in turn makes it quite a challenge to effectively test software.
Test automation is the clarion call of the digital age and it is imperative for businesses today. It can revive flagging digital transformation projects and give new ones a head start. Simply put – test automation sets the winners apart from the losers and developing a best practice testing process for any business is fundamental. As digital technologies gain momentum, businesses must look towards mature test automation practices to help reduce manual efforts whilst providing faster feedback and minimising the time to market for products and services.
Testing is a time-consuming task. Relying only on manual tests can increase defect leakage, compromise quality, escalate costs and increase time-to-market. This in turn can lead to customer churn, loss of revenue and reduced market share. By automating the end-to-end business process with test automation, businesses can eradicate defects and human errors due to the monotony of repetitive manual tasks, and as a result, have greater confidence in rapid shipping of product changes.
Identifying risks to the performance of an application is a good way to start. It’s important to look at risk factors that include the user population, application type, application technology and changes to the application features and function. Adequate planning is essential when creating a testing automation framework that incurs low maintenance costs whilst delivering a higher return on investment.
In fact, taking an improvisational, make it up as you go along approach to testing invites risk – the very thing testing is intended to reduce. However, if businesses deploy a comprehensive approach to testing, it can identify problems earlier, which in turn reduces time to fix, time to market, and overall cost. While the strategy can change and develop during the project, taking the time to plan pays additional dividends, reducing rework, testing gaps, and communication friction.
In today’s digital age, the pressure is on for businesses to innovate, to be more efficient, get to market first and give customers a better, more personalised service. Whether it’s business transformation, digital transformation or planning for further growth, businesses need to understand the benefits of developing the best testing process, and how taking the right steps are fundamental for long-term success. To get it right first time, businesses should centre their testing plans around the following factors:
Measuring customer experience and journeys
Businesses should be looking towards incorporating test methodologies and metrics that track customer experience parameters, ensuring that the product or application is omni-channel and consistent throughout. Testing teams must also be innovative in designing test cases that cover a wide variety of customer journeys for the application or product.
In demonstrating the value of software testing to the business, testing teams must focus on optimising functional testing activities across channels. Digital enterprise customers benefit from an enriched end user experience through reliable software testing and quality assurance services, which are backed by innovative solutions – so businesses must ensure that the product or application is omni-channel and consistent throughout.
With the recently implemented GDPR regulations that have come into play, the issues surrounding security for testing teams are more important than ever. Ensuring that customers’ assets and personal data is secured is a priority in many aspects of business – and it is no different when it comes to testing.
Security testing should be appropriately prioritised to identify threats in the system while measuring any potential vulnerabilities. If done correctly, businesses will successfully reduce the risk of the system being exploited or damaged. Overall, businesses can rest assured that their systems are water-tight and that company data and its integrity is protected, to reduce financial and reputational impact on the business.
Manual testing of new features along with regression testing of existing functionality is a tedious effort, which increases as new features are added at every iteration. Teams often struggle to align all test activities within short iterations by relying solely on manual testing, which leads to inadequate test coverage and poor software quality. To resolve this, robust automation frameworks should be set in place, to ensure quicker test cycles, and the development community needs to be trained and invested in using and contributing to the framework. Quality assurance is not just the testers’ jobs.
Though the adoption of test automation is an imperative for increasing the effectiveness, efficiency and coverage of software testing, it is important to understand that test automation has an initial cost associated with it. Therefore, when implemented poorly, test automation can hurt project budgets without providing the expected benefits. Test automation must be thought out and therefore be implemented to increase the overall software efficiency that delivers better quality software, which can be released earlier with less effort, utilising fewer resources.
Digital assurance platform
The testing service organisation must have a robust and comprehensive digital assurance platform. This platform will help with creating a digital assurance strategy. The strategy will provide the right tools, methodologies, reusable assets and measurement metrics to create a superior customer experience. Enterprises that embark on digital transformation programmes should align the adoption of digital technologies with a clear digital assurance strategy.
For us, the role of test automation in digital transformation sets the winners apart from the losers. With enterprises embarking on digital transformation programmes, there is now an enormous pressure to release software faster to provide better, more efficient services. While deploying an effective software testing process is a prerequisite for developing software that’s fit for purpose and delivers on business objectives, if performed haphazardly, it can also jeopardise success.
With the day of the standalone application all but gone, testing must increasingly cover end-to-end user journeys that cross traditional digital and physical boundaries.