A common agile development cycle has 6 stages: plan, design, develop, test, release, evaluate. The approach takes software development as a cycle, making it possible to treat software development as a continuous process. The feedback gathered at the end of every cycle is used to refine the process – and the software itself – further.

Testing becomes an important part of the process. After all, the market is so competitive right now, and releasing an update with errors is simply unacceptable. Unfortunately, testing can still be a bottleneck when it is only a phase in the development process rather than an inseparable part. Even worse, some organizations still treat testing as an afterthought rather than a priority.

Automation is the answer to these challenges. In order to make testing more prominent and an inseparable part of the development process, it needs to be automated. What is test automation? How can you get started with automating tests? That is what we are going to find out in this article.

Understanding Current Tests

Before you dig deeper into how testing can be automated, the first thing you want to do is taking the time to understand the current testing methodologies used in the development cycle. Reviewing way tests are conducted right now will give you access to valuable insights that help refine the process; it is similar to the way user feedbacks can refine your app.

Bottlenecks need to be identified along with their root causes. When testing becomes the element that slows down the CI/CD cycle, you have other problems to solve before you can fully automate the phase. You also want to look into other parts of the development cycle and how they are affected by testing integration.

The design phase, for instance, needs to have a way to incorporate UI/UX testing into the process. This allows this type of testing to be conducted earlier rather than later in the process, allowing designs to be revised and made more effective before code is actually written. The whole process can be leaner and more efficient this way.

Automating Tests

Test automation, as the name suggests, means incorporating a range of testing methods to ensure the quality of code written and functionality delivered. With users becoming more sensitive to disruptions in their experience, testing becomes the most important instrument for ensuring quality in a continuous integration and deployment cycle.

To some extent, testing is already semi-automated. A lot of test engineers use macros and runtimes to run tests on a larger scale. However, the test automation we are discussed goes further by also adding standards, multiple testing methods, and input-free testing routines, creating a truly seamless testing process.

Test automation doesn’t mean automating the entire testing process. It simply means making the process more efficient by knowing when to automate and when to conduct manual adjustments. You still need a testing team, but team members will no longer have to deal with the mundane tasks of running tests manually.

Automating testing also means setting standards for the rest of the development cycle to follow. Coding guidelines and best practices are the most common standards being imposed in the development process. When code is written in a standardized way, and by following strict guidelines, problems such as security holes and bad functions can be eliminated from the start.

Testing Early

If test automation is a new thing for your organization, it is highly recommended to invest some time and money into learning about it. Global App Testing, which has been the leading provider of testing automation and services for years, has fantastic resources to help you learn about test automation. You can find out more about how to get started on this site.

A good mindset to get into is making sure that testing starts as early in the development process as possible. Using a test management platform is a great start because it allows you to convert testing into a series of API calls and procedures. A test management platform also simplifies the creation of multiple tests.

As soon as there are app elements that can be tested, testing runtimes can be executed. Testing early gives developers more opportunities to uncover errors and fix them. In contrast, testing at the end of the development cycle means there is little time to fix errors without introducing new ones or pushing back the release date.

To complete the set, make sure you also set testing objectives and metrics early. This is in line with setting coding standards and making sure that those standards are met. Clear testing objectives act as the goals to aim for; the iteration will be rated based on the standards and updates are pushed to the user only when all of those standards are met.

Getting-Started Tips

Getting started with test automation is easier than you think. There are tools and APIs that can help you automate most – if not all – of your testing routines quickly. What’s more important is making sure that automating testing doesn’t end with the entire testing process becoming less effective, and bad codes being released to production.

To avoid such problems, there are several getting-started tips that you can follow, starting with defining clear test cases to automate. As mentioned before, not all test cases need to be automated, but the ones that do must be defined clearly. You can even go into the details and define aspects such as device types, traffic sources, and the kind of activities to test.

Next, focus on improving test data quality. In order to learn from the test results and find real improvement for future cycles, you have to make sure that test data points are accurate, and that they are filtered from noise and irrelevant entries. Errors and other captured occurrences must be logged with relevant details (i.e. operating system, IP address, etc.) for accuracy.

Test for functionality, not usability. Test automation is best used for testing functionalities, especially in a measurable and repeatable way. User experience and usability testing, on the other hand, are the kind of testing that must be conducted manually. These tests can still be simplified by outsourcing testing to third-party service providers.

Define your test metrics. Testing metrics can be a lot bigger than errors and the number of test runtimes too. You can measure the ROI of testing, calculate the cost reduction due to test automation, and even measure whether test automation is worth the investment. Clear test metrics will help make automated testing more targeted in the long run.

Lastly, expect to do corrections on a regular basis. Automated testing can still produce biased results, especially when the runtimes are not tailored to the specific testing type. Even QA testing can produce false positives without enough learning data. Regular corrections early in the automation process may still be required.

Despite the challenges, test automation is still something worth investing in. The tools are far more reliable and easier to integrate than before. You can save money and time by automating test runtimes and integrating them with the early phases of development. Of course, automation can be expanded to other forms of testing once the initial implementation is successful. Once you start automating, the rest is easy from there.

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