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Continuous Testing Best Practices
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Continuous Testing Best Practices

Continuous integration is effective but can get messy and prove to be unsuccessful if you don’t follow these best practices.

Ann McArthur
Ann McArthur
February 23, 2022

Best Practices to Implement Continuous Testing

Continuous testing is the process of executing automated tests as part of the software delivery pipeline in order to identify potential business risks. Today, it is vital to update software as rapidly as possible. Continuous testing is evolving and extending test automation to address modern software development and delivery.

Organizations across all sectors are seeking to bring their digital transformation forward to make them more efficient and adaptable to changing markets. A key element of this transition is continuous testing, which helps minimize the risks associated with software development.

What is Continuous Testing?

Continuous testing isn't just a practice that only performs automated tests but it also provides immediate feedback on the risks associated with a potential release.

Continuous testing is a type of testing that ensures the quality of software. It's a process of evaluating the quality of software by testing it often and early on in the development life cycle. Continuous testing not only helps with finding bugs but also with monitoring overall performance.

The traditional, linear product development process is now an outdated approach to testing. When a team hands off the software, they are handing off their responsibility as well. To ensure quality, a QA team would need significant time and resources, which would then delay the project schedule.

Continuous testing requires continuous business and technical risk analysis and process improvement. This process is not possible without implementing automation. The culture of the team is also essential to continual improvement. Quality should be an important responsibility for everyone and members should take it seriously.

In today's marketplace, faster software delivery is crucial. To have what the market wants and to increase revenue, you must offer new software to the end-user. Continuous improvements in DevOps practices provide the opportunity for companies to deploy their new software. In a continuous DevOps process, a release candidate (software change) continually moves from development to testing to deployment.

Testing is a huge process. A lot of people are involved in the process, including the development team, DevOps team, Quality Assurance (QA) team, and operational staff.

Use the Proper Tools

As part of a continuous testing strategy, companies need to develop a robust test automation plan. It should focus on all aspects of testing, including API integration and UI testing. Continuous integration is performed by tools, and continuous delivery is performed with the help of tools and a team. Continuous testing, however, takes all of these elements and adds services.

Automation is critical to continuous testing, but before implementing any continuous testing strategy, it is important to have a variety of other important steps. These include all the types of testing, such as unit and integration testing, as well as the different levels of testing, such as exploratory and automated.

It's not enough to just test the software once. To maximize the speed of delivery without sacrificing quality, organizations turn to DevOps. DevOps implements continuous testing throughout the continuous integration pipeline, which helps deliver customer value by adding speed and quality without sacrificing either.

Streamline the process

In order to have an effective continuous testing strategy, you need to streamline the process. The ultimate goal of DevOps is to mitigate business risk, which is made up of customer risk and organizational risk. To be best prepared for the worst, you need to know which applications are most important to your customers and build a test plan that covers those apps with the most risk.

Understanding the complexities of your business as well as the products you sell is key to preventing organizational risk. This knowledge helps you decide if being first to market or having a quality product is more important to your company. Once you have accurately assessed the risks your company faces, you should map your requirements, application components, and tests to those risks.

Remove bottlenecks

It is critical to identify and mitigate bottlenecks; they impede both quality and velocity. Constraints to the test process can be found throughout, from requirements through post-production checkout.  Many examples of bad testing include testers not being included in backlog refinement and defect management, automated tests running too long, and post-production checkouts being done manually.

Optimize Automation

As a foundation for an effective automation strategy, it is essential to conduct tests that provide the coverage you need with the fewest number of test cases. Test optimization, the practice of choosing the right tests for your needs, is a key component in continuous testing.

The practice of test optimization has many applications, from deciding which tests to run on a full regression suite to picking the right ones to identify new features. It must be done in advance of automation and must be done throughout the continuous testing process.

​​To optimize the test scope, make sure you know the technologies involved in critical user workflows. Understand the integrations that are key to a successful project (web, mobile, message/API layer, etc.).

Once you know the scope of the test, your next step is to optimize your test cases. Optimizing test cases includes not only quality analysis, but also selecting the most appropriate tests. The effectiveness of your test suite should be evaluated continually to keep it at its best. The goal is to have your tests provide coverage with the fewest number of tests possible. This allows for a high-quality suite that also moves fast. The suite is evaluated on a regular basis to get rid of tests that are no longer needed or to update them with new ones based on new features.

It's important to continually evaluate the effectiveness of your test suite. By deprecating tests that are no longer needed, addressing the flakiness of tests, and adding new tests based on new features, you will be able to optimize your testing process.

Leverage the CI Pipeline

The speed of deployment and the reduction of risk are just a couple of advantages of continuous testing. Continuous testing is what allows for customer feedback to translate into changes that can be made in real-time. With the ability to conduct tests faster, developers can have more confidence in their code and increase the quality of the product overall.

Continuous testing is about more than just a bundle of automated regression suites. It's important to work on the overall automation strategy for the continuous deployment process, not just individual automated tests. The goal is to enhance the process and make it easier, not to hamper it by creating unnecessary bottlenecks.

When it comes to testing, it's not enough to have a strategy. You need to have an automated checkpoint at each step in the build process. Your test strategy should include automated unit tests and an automated risk-based regression test suite customized for the features you're implementing.

The final step of the testing process is production monitoring. This will find any functional and performance issues before customers even notice. With automated tests and post-deployment health checks, developers catch issues before they even happen.

Within your continuous testing strategy, test automation must be designed to run efficiently while providing reliable, consistent, reproducible results. Your automation strategy must be well developed and include the test maintenance plan and a schedule of which automated tests should run at specific points along the delivery pipeline.

You need to take responsibility for quality. If all team members don't take responsibility, it will be impossible to have a successful e-commerce site. Taking responsibility requires a shift in mindset that must be led by management. Knowledge is critical since each team member must understand the nature of their role in quality assurance.

Get Help From DevCycle

Your release pipeline is constantly evolving. Continuous testing is essential to provide quality assurance. The primary objective of continuous testing is to promote feedback and speed up the release pipeline.

You've got to do more than execute tests to achieve success. To be successful, a business must perform several aspects of testing in a reiterative way. This includes the production and refinement of automated tests.

Feature flags help with continuous testing. Feature flags inherently allow you to make continuous updates and allow your developers to use a CI/CD workflow. Get started with a 14-day free trial.

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written By
Ann McArthur

Ann is a product specialist who helps engineers easily get started using feature flags. She resides in Toronto where you can find her at the AGO, or at home whipping up a delicious meal.

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