Test automation in Agile and DevOps: Maximizing flexibility and speed
We are witnessing flexible methodologies gaining momentum. Today, 94% of companies practice Agile; 74% of them implement DevOps. And to keep up with the high tempo of these environments, many businesses choose test automation.
In this article I am going to tell you
- Why automated testing lies at the heart of Agile and DevOps
- What advantages it brings to the table
- Why it’s necessary to bear in mind manual testing
- How to efficiently set up test automation processes.
Test automation in Agile and DevOps
Before the advent of Agile and DevOps and still in Waterfall, testing was always the last step in software development. Is it time-efficient? Absolutely not. Flexible methodologies helped provide businesses with more flexibility, greater speed, and better communication between project members.
However, is it possible to keep up with the fast-paced Agile environment by focusing on manual testing? Probably, it is pretty challenging. The app features receive updates at lightning speed, which requires putting test automation at the heart of Agile.
As Agile comes in numerous iterations, it allows testing the IT product more frequently from the initial SDLC stages. This is how experts identify more bugs from the get-go and timely eliminate them.
And what about test automation in DevOps? By supporting continuous development, deployment, and testing, DevOps aims to increase the velocity and frequency of the product release (and within the next two years, it’s expected to reach 58%). Again, it’s so hard to do without test automation if the company strives to deliver quality at speed. Let’s look at the picture below — software testing is not a separate step as in the traditional development model. In DevOps, all specialists work in a single flow.
If you introduce manual testing, DevOps pipelines may slow down, leading to more bottlenecks and taking extra time and expenses to fix them.
So, automated testing comes to the forefront within these methodologies to help organizations boost release cadences while rolling out a high-quality IT solution that meets end-user needs.
3 values of test automation within Agile and DevOps
Let me walk you through the details of main values of automated testing integrated into Agile and DevOps processes.
Value #1. Accelerated testing and go-to-market time
As testing takes place at every sprint of the project, the company effectively detects and eliminates software glitches earlier, reducing testing time, decreasing costs for fixing them, and speeding up the IT product release.
Value #2. Enhanced software quality
According to the 15th State of Agile Report, 42% of organizations reaped this benefit by implementing Agile. The earlier you start verifying the system features, the lower the risk of missing critical bugs. This allows you to produce an IT solution that operates seamlessly, mitigate the risks before the app goes live, and make sure it complies with requirements.
Value #3. Reduced QA costs
Imagine a situation. The company missed a critical defect early on but discovered it at the last SDLC stage or in production. Downtime, loss of clients, damaged reputation — these are some possible results. In 2018, this is exactly what happened to Microsoft Azure when a bug in the code update caused a service outage that lasted for 16 hours and hindered users’ authentication to Teams, Office 365, and other Microsoft cloud services.
According to Gartner, the cost of downtime is $5,600 per minute. Not the best scenario, right? By introducing automated testing within Agile and DevOps processes, businesses enable early and cost-effective bug fixing, helping significantly cut QA expenses.
Is there a place for manual testing in Agile and DevOps?
Does manual testing fit in Agile and DevOps? Or should it be completely replaced by automation?
Agile and DevOps primarily focus on automated testing to maintain their fast-paced rhythm. However, this doesn’t require eliminating manual testing entirely, as in some cases, it is illogical to substitute it with automated checks.
Exploratory testing, for example, allows deviating from typical scenarios, examining the software themselves, and relying on intuition to discover system hidden vulnerabilities.
Or ad-hoc testing. QA specialists don’t have to follow a clear plan, create test cases and documentation, they just find the app flaws by conducting random checks and adopting non-standard software testing methods.
Setting up test automation for Agile and DevOps: 3 tips to follow
I will give my top 3 tips for efficiently setting up automated testing within Agile and DevOps.
Tip #1. Choose the right tools
The variety of test automation tools is vast, ranging from free and open to fee-based and customized. If picking the wrong one, it may negatively affect QA processes, requiring more time and money for testing or even re-starting all procedures from scratch.
As there is no one-size-fits-all test automation tool, it might be easier to consider the following aspects before selecting the most appropriate tool: types of it, ability to maintain DevOps and Agile tool integration, purchase and support cost, technical skills, and experience necessary to handle the tool, etc.
Tip #2. Onboard the experts with the required skillset
Working in fast-paced environments, test automation engineers should have excellent time management skills to effectively organize their work, accomplish all tasks on time, and meet project deadlines.
In Agile and DevOps, QA experts maintain ongoing collaboration with developers, managers, and product owners during regular retrospectives, iteration planning, sprint reviews, and other meetings. This requires proficiency in communicating and reporting to establish robust interaction between all project members and quickly respond to changes and updates.
Tip #3. Don’t overdo test automation
To succeed with Agile and DevOps environments, test automation should come first. But not 100% as some types of tests simply cannot be automated, such as exploratory and ad-hoc. Or if you face one-time tasks, then it is time for manual testing, which is faster and much cheaper for this case.
When planning to automate, ask yourself these questions to understand whether it is reasonable or not. How frequently will these checks be run? How much effort does it require? Will it help cut QA costs? And if you know that the tests are repeatable, monotonous, and time-consuming, then test automation is of help.
To maintain the high speed and flexibility of Agile and DevOps environments, companies put test automation at the core of them to accelerate testing time, enhance software quality, and reduce QA costs. However, businesses still turn to manual testing to conduct one-time tasks as well as exploratory and ad-hoc tests.
You may follow 3 tips to set up a well-tuned test automation strategy within flexible methodologies: choose the right tools, onboard QA experts with the required skillset, and don’t overdo automated testing.
In case you are facing difficulties in effectively adopting test automation within your Agile and DevOps processes, feel free to reach out to a1qa’s specialists.