How Test Automation Reduces Technical Debt

Nov 2, 2022 | Best Practices, Test Automation Insights

How Test Automation Reduces Technical Debt

Many software developers have made business decisions to use technical debt in order to get quick delivery of their products. Managing technical debt is possible, as long as you are aware of the dangers and any negative impact that it could have on your core concept. The product owners need to weigh the debt ratio and be prepared to be able to work toward managing technical debt. 

There are methods like test automation that can help you reduce technical debt without negatively impacting release cycles. This is what we will be discussing today. 

What Is Technical Debt?

Technical debt or code debt is the price that software developers pay to produce a product much faster. They could choose fast delivery over producing perfect code. Slower development means that a piece of software gets to market slower too, and this might not be ideal. 

The code debt will then be the trade-off that a team makes when creating software systems. Often, the true costs only become clear over a period of time. Working in Agile, or in short phases of development, can be one way to move a project forward quickly. However, technical debt in Agile can become a problem when too many corners are cut, resulting in a lot of extra effort to get the code back up to a higher standard. 

Fortunately, there are ways to reduce technical debt while still maintaining a quick turnaround time. 

Types of Technical Debt

There are different forms of technical debt that will speed up the development process in the short term — but all of them have a price to pay in the long run. Understanding this price allows a team to make informed decisions. Just like when you go into real monetary debt to get something quicker, there are drawbacks and benefits to each form of technical debt. 

Architecture Debt

This is when you make design decisions and code construction choices by choosing things that can be done in the quickest possible way. Your code gets created much faster, and the software can be released much quicker. 

The downside is that the foundation of your project might have cracks. You’ll have debt in your technical architecture. Often, these types of mistakes or problems are a lot harder to find and fix when the software is fully built. 

It might be worth it to get the product into the hands of consumers faster, but big problems in the fundamental way the code has been created could result in unsatisfied customers who stop using your product. 

Test Debt

Test debt happens when you cut some corners during the testing process. This allows for a quicker turnaround. But since testing is crucial when it comes to the development process, this can leave you with a lot of issues to resolve down the line. 

That is where automated testing can help you. Having a test plan can not only make the testing process quicker but also ensure that you still have a high-quality product by the end of the process. 

Infrastructure Debt

This is the cost that you will incur when you don’t keep your hardware at the standard where you need it to be. 

Keeping tech components like computers, servers, networks, or other pieces of infrastructure at high quality can be expensive and take up a lot of your time. But knowing what consumers are using could make a big difference in the way you build your software. 

Some updates can influence the way your code will work on a certain piece of tech. That is the risk that you accept when you take on infrastructure debt. 

The Downsides of Technical Debt

Technical debt can be a useful tool when used wisely. But there are downsides that you need to consider before you decide to use it as a tool. 

Accrual Over Time

Just as regular debt accumulates interest over time, technical debt will also start to cost you more if you ignore it for longer periods of time. Small problems that you could have found at the start of the project could become massive problems when the software has already been released. 

Understanding that technical debt is a tool that you should only use for the short term is one of the key elements in making sure that accrual over time won’t completely destroy your project later in its creative life cycle. 

Hidden Costs

This is another crucial element to consider when deciding to incur technical debt. There are always going to be some hidden costs that you can’t predict. When you overlook small things, bigger problems could take their place. 

You might think that you know what results to expect when you let certain problems slide, but often, there are other side effects that no one could have foreseen. Making sure that your team is prepared to face a number of these hidden costs could be the difference between success and failure. 

How Test Automation Decreases Tech Debt

Finding ways to decrease your tech debt while still maintaining the speed at which you can deliver quality products is a great way to elevate your team among the competition. 

One powerful tool to use is test automation. This can massively decrease tech debt, and the best part is that you won’t need to use a lot of extra effort or time. 

How does test automation help reduce technical debt? In a few easy steps. 

Identifies Problems Earlier in the Software Development Process

Manual testing can take a lot of time. When the goal is to produce a finished product in the shortest possible time, manual testing is just not a viable option. But test automation allows you to run these tests while the programming team keeps working on the next steps. 

There are no breaks in development since humans only create these tests and are often not part of running them. This allows your team to test the software in the earlier stages of development. They can then find problems and address them early on. 

The foundation of the project can remain strong even if the development process is going at a quick rate. Even if the team decides not to address the problems, they then know where they are in the foundation, and they have the tools to come back and address them later on in the development process. 

Allows More Frequent Testing Before Releasing Your Software Product

By using automated testing tools, your team also opens the door to doing a lot more tests in the same amount of time than you would with manual testing. These tools allow for frequent testing. 

Since manual testing takes up a lot of time and focus, the average person would often only run one test at a time. With test automation, you can run multiple tests at the same time. They are finished faster and with less human error to contend with. 

This allows your team to do more frequent testing before you release the software. Mistakes can be found easier without taking up your precious time or pushing back your release date. 

Ensures Better Software Quality

Since automated testing allows your team to perform more frequent tests without the need to stop development, they will know the problems that they are facing. This will allow you to better manage the technical debt that you are building. 

You can decide which problems require immediate action, which problems will be a lot more expensive to fix later, and which problems will create the most user dissatisfaction. Then you can prioritize these issues and get them taken care of. 

By the time your software makes it onto the market, you have still only used the amount of time that you planned for at the start of the project. But you are releasing a project that has less technical debt than you would have had without the use of test automation. 

The best part is that you are releasing a piece of software that is much better quality than if you would have just released it without using automated testing tools. This means there is a lower likelihood of needing to return to the piece of software and fix problems left over from the development process. 

Empower Your Development Team With Automated Testing

Your development team wants to deliver software systems in the time frame you set. But at the same time, everyone would like to deliver a piece of software that they can be proud of. Using technical debt can be beneficial, but by using automated testing tools to reduce code debt, you can release software that is of much higher quality in the same amount of time. 

You don’t need to have a lot of experience in creating testing plans and setting up testing teams. Instead, you just need to partner with a company like Ranorex that has years of experience in creating testing tools that support development teams.

Contact us today to get a free trial and to start empowering your development team with automated testing. 


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