The rising need for easy to use, modernized software and business applications has forced ISVs (independent software vendors) and software focused firms to deliver reliable and efficient products within shorter timeframes. Moreover, adoption of agile and DevOps methodologies has further complicated the nature of these applications and manual testing can no longer be relied upon. With the inevitable trade-off between quality and time-to-market, the need for test automation (either accomplished internally or through a skilled partner) to achieve both quality and functionality is critical.
The benefits of deploying a meticulously-planned test automation strategy are many. Some of these are:
- Speed & Accuracy - Test automation has significantly reduced human error occurring in manual testing environments, thus making test results more accurate. Moreover, automation allows test experts to focus on more challenging, case-specific tests while the automation software executes the standard, often redundant and time-consuming tests. Automation also reduces time and effort by delivering results faster.
- Increased Test Coverage - Automated software tests improve software quality considerably by expanding both the depth and scope of testing. It also ensures a more thorough examination and investigation of various software elements which is seldom possible through a manual testing approach.
- Increased Efficiency - Manual testing procedures can be long, prone to errors and tiresome. Automated tests can run with minimal human intervention, thus leading to improved resource utilization. Moreover, since the testing phase occupies a large portion of the software development lifecycle, the slightest improvements through automation can significantly reduce time-to-market.
- Reduced Expenses - The cost and efforts invested in manual regression testing are considerably reduced with automation. Moreover, documentation of defects in each sprint and regular maintenance of repository leads to early detection of defects which reduces post-production glitches and hence, project costs. Despite the comparatively higher cost of initial setup, test automation saves organizations significant costs in the long run.
Traditional vs. Business - Driven Test Automation
The traditional approach to test automation has become out-dated and the era of business-driven test automation has dawned. Organizations need to align their business objectives to their test automation strategy to improve their brand image and maximize profits. In addition to specific testing goals, metrics derived from organizational goals also form an integral part of the business-driven test automation strategy. This imparts better test coverage, flexibility, scalability and productivity and ensures delivery of a high-quality software application that meets organizational business goals.
Benefits of a business-driven approach over traditional test automation approach include:
- A business-driven approach not only focuses on the performance and functionality, but also stresses achievement of business goals in addition to testing goals.
- The primary objective of traditional automation is finding defects. Whereas, business-driven automation aims at detecting defects early in the product lifecycle to effectively reduce the time-to-market.
- In business-driven automation, the tester and business analyst collaborate from the beginning of the project. This helps to avoid discrepancies in desired outcome when accomplishment of business goals is evaluated in the later stages of the software development lifecycle.
- In a traditional approach, results are measured on the number of test cases written and executed. Whereas, business-driven approach measures results based on the business goals achieved in a particular test cycle.
- The traditional test automation approach is largely reactive, with execution focus on maximizing test coverage. A business-driven approach, aims at predicting defects through pattern analysis and maximizing coverage with special focus on faster time-to-market.
Ensuring Business Value through Test Automation
While there is not a definite set of rules to ensure success, there are some key concepts and measures to build on to derive exceptional business value through test automation.
- Identify Your Goals
Understanding business objectives and defining a clear set of goals is fundamental to an effective business-driven test automation strategy. Collating information of short-term and long-term business goals from multiple stakeholders should be used to design a standardized guideline for generating test scripts. Equally important is collecting feedback from people involved in the automation project and altering the metrics accordingly.
- Involve Business Analysts
Quality assurance (QA) teams and business analysts (BAs) must be involved from the very beginning of the software development lifecycle to drive test scenarios to achieve business objectives. Business analysts define clear business goals against which the QA practices can be measured and implemented. Test scripts designed with a business perspective can then be run in the application.
- Choose the Right Tool
There are numerous test automation solutions available in the market. Choose one that best suits requirements after careful consideration and review of your goals, toolset functionality, budget, technologies used, skill sets of resources, and reporting mechanisms to measure and derive meaningful conclusions.
- Establish an Execution Plan
It is the responsibility of the automation architect to design a test automation framework based on business rules, processes, timelines and deliverables. Test scripts must be created after verifying that the metrics are supported by the application and the testing processes must be carried out with a business perspective, ensuring maximum coverage and minimal risk.
Devising test automation strategies with as much focus on business objectives as on test goals will provide rewards. In addition to ensuring the on-time release of high-quality software or applications, test automation helps organizations attain industry standards and establish authority in their respective markets. Making realization of primary business objectives an integral part of your test automation drives higher revenues, improved brand recognition and higher customer-retention.
To learn how test automation can help you improve quality and time to market, please contact us.