In the age of DevOps, one agile approach has become more relevant than ever: continuous testing. This is a process where testing happens in each stage of the software development process, aligning with the shift-left paradigm. The goal is to evaluate risks and obtain feedback as quickly as possible.
Companies have tried to include this approach as part of their development process, but quite often, they do not know where to start with continuous testing or how to implement it to a greater scope.
Here are four strategies that will help you strategically implement a scalable continuous testing process across the enterprise.
1. Prioritize your testing
100% exhaustive testing is impossible. There are a variety of components to be tested — requirements, code, business logic, application services, infrastructure, etc. — and only a limited amount of time and resources.
Therefore, it is critical to prioritize what to test along the way. These are some of the more important aspects to consider:
- Your critical paths
- How your business makes money
- How your users use the application
- How your application services are advertised
- What has been a problem in the past
With this list in hand, you can begin your prioritization.
2. Expand automation
Automated testing can be done at every level, starting right from the requirements phase and all the way through to the user acceptance and deployment phases. This is especially true in the realm of DevOps and continuous testing.
DevOps has helped software development and operations teams better collaborate, thereby ensuring constant automation and monitoring throughout the software development lifecycle (SDLC), which includes infrastructure management. Continuous testing has helped to shift testing left, or to ensure that testing starts as early as possible in the SDLC.
With these current agile practices, everything we do as part of testing is changing, and automation will be needed in various development phases.
3. Have clearly defined roles and responsibilities
Having clearly defined lines of responsibility and communication is key to successful testing. Teams have to collaboratively come up with answers to these critical questions:
- Who is going to write unit, API and UI tests?
- Who maintains this test over time?
- Who is responsible for running the test?
- Who submits changes to the tests?
- Who is responsible for updating the frameworks and libraries used?
- Who writes the issues in the ticketing systems?
- Who closes bugs?
Generally, this will come down to a choice between developers and testers. Each has their benefits and drawbacks, so consider the possibilities and decide as a team.
4. Ensure infrastructure support
One of the biggest challenges of implementing continuous testing is providing the right infrastructure to ensure different testing activities happen at each stage of the development process.
First of all, you need multiple environments so you can isolate the tests and test with different test data. At a minimum, you need development, test and production environments. The types of tests that run in each environment may vary depending on the context of the project.
Next, assuming your teams are following a DevOps approach, your infrastructure may have to support the creation of virtual machines using container-orchestration systems such as Docker and Kubernetes, version control systems and complete CI/CD integration. This helps to manage your application into logical units and get quick feedback on different features.
Finally, automated security and performance testing have become vital to delivering quality products to the customer. The infrastructure would have to support this effort as well.
Continuous testing is beneficial in so many ways, but it has its own set of challenges for implementation across the enterprise. Organizations should be prepared to invest a considerable amount of time and resources into building a sustainable and scalable continuous testing practice across the delivery pipeline. However, in the long run, the benefits outweigh the effort.
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