Augmenting ROI en route QA Automation

In addition to higher efficiency and accuracy of the testing process, QA automation has often been associated with increased ROI via better speed, superior quality, reduced cost and optimal utilization of resources. However, automation cannot be applied indiscriminately. Being a strategic decision, it requires a fair amount of understanding as to what it can or cannot offer to your project. Project teams and QA decision makers must evaluate the potential ROI before making a final commitment to invest in test automation.

Once the groundwork is done, and you have set your foot on the automation playground, the initial step is to get acquainted with the factors that can help you reap the desirable ROI from the process.

Identify What to Automate: To identify this, you need to study and analyze factors like the application under test, requisite test environment, hardware dependencies and so on. Tasks that are recurring and mandatory in nature, or functions that remain stable for the most part of the development lifecycle, or tests that have complex business logic constitute some of the ideal test cases for mechanization.

Moreover, the important question is whether, in an attempt to accrue the benefits of automation, can we automate each and every layer of the app and its related components, and be done away with the human element? The answer is a crisp ‘No’. Why?

Here are a few good reasons :

  • Even Automation Test scripts need to be written by testers/humans
  • Scripts cannot provide inputs on how a UI looks and feels
  • Automated tests can only notice the errors they are programmed to find
  • Automation can prove to be a costly affair for smaller projects
  • Only skilled, wise testers can choose apt automation tools or the effort can be a sheer waste

Hence, both manual and automated testing are crucial for a successful app to be developed in a given time and budget, but yes, automation can increase the benefits manifold when applied aptly. Hence, choose wisely what you really need to automate.

Task Prioritization: Once the test cases for automation have been identified, it is imperative to start prioritizing and dividing tasks as per the expected timelines. It is equally important to consider team skill-set and accordingly finalize the automation tasks.

Prepare Test Cases & Identify Scenarios Ahead: This step assists in identifying the estimated execution time and possible defects well in advance, in addition to identifying other scenarios and application workflows that can also be automated but could have been otherwise missed.

Identify the Test Process Beforehand, and Create Tests That Do Not Affect UI Changes: Identifying Test Process before going for automation ensures optimal allocation of resources and early risk analysis. This assists in the determination of best possible methods to perform the task efficiently. The automation scripts must, however,  be easy to maintain and update. Finally, tests should be so written as to provide smooth and reliable results even when the UI changes.

Ensure Well-designed Test Data: Test data that is fresh/updated, valid, and reliable results in successful automation endeavors. Hence, make sure that you have quality data – optimal size data with information and components relevant to app testing environment.

Identify Apt Test Tools, Frameworks and Techniques: To obtain the desired output from the test automation project, you need to choose the right test tool- emulators or real devices, make the buying decision- buy the device or use the Cloud services, and select the right automation framework or technique for a particular app type or test scenario.

Periodic Test Review: Periodic review of your test data and cases is essential for eliminating unnecessary and outdated tests resulting in reduced costs and maintenance efforts.

Hence, automation, when implemented aptly, changes the entire test environment from design to deployment for good. Speedy and efficient delivery, better visibility into your app performance, detection of more bugs, and cost effectiveness are some of the hallmarks of automation that can be expected when you tread the automation journey in sync with the above guidelines. So automate, but automate wisely!

Service Virtualization In Software Testing

The complexity of the current software testing market impels businesses to strive for quality software quickly and economically. DevOps and Agile workflows have made the software testing ride much smoother than the traditional practices by introducing automation and enabling superior communication, collaboration, and transparency. However, waiting on the dependent components can stymie even the best of approaches, and this is where Service Virtualization (SV) can help speed up things.

What Is Service Virtualization

In the absence of key components in your system architecture, SV involves using virtual services to enable frequent and comprehensive testing by emulating the behavior of essential components. This means testing teams get a comprehensive first-hand testing platform equipped with all the components of a real production environment, enabling testers to test component-driven applications such as independent APIs, SaaS-based apps and SOAs (Service-oriented architectures).

Service Virtualization In Relation To Stubbing and Mocking

Modern applications are complex and rely on numerous dependent services. Adding to the complexity of software functionality, the rise of Agile software development has made it increasingly difficult for testers to manually develop the number, scope, and complexity of stubs or mocks required to complete testing tasks for modern enterprise application development scenarios.

Service Virtualization should not be mixed-up with unit testing with stubbing and mocking– which are mere workarounds, unlike properly architected SV technology. With stubs and mocks, the test suite simply ignores the unavailable components, often leaving the vital components out of the testing sphere until a final end-to-end testing is conducted prior to the release. The major advantage with SV is that testing teams have the ability to virtually test application behavior incrementally before the full availability of all components. This largely eliminates some of the major disadvantages of stubs and mocks, making SV a valuable asset for the testing companies.

Advantages of Service Virtualization in Software Testing

Let us highlight some of the key benefits Service Virtualization offers:

Speedy Delivery: In the current Continuous Development (CD) scenario, testing needs to occur alongside development, and this is especially desirable in the production of heterogeneous systems involving multiple layers of interdependent components, APIs, and third party apps. It is no longer feasible to wait for QA teams to give a green signal for each and every component to be market ready; rather the behavior of the connected components can be understood in a demo environment using SV. This leads to reduced timeframes and shorter release cycles. This is further validated by the voke Research 2015 where 34% participants experienced a 50% or greater reduction in test cycle times, while 40% participants saw their software release cycles decrease by 40% or more using SV.

Access to Otherwise Unavailable Resources: A complete end-to-end test can be conducted even when the dependent system components (third party apps, APIs and so on) of the app under test cannot be properly accessed or configured for testing. SV helps to simulate these dependencies. Moreover, almost all kind of scenarios can be tested using SV, including varying levels of functionality, performance and maintenance levels.

Reduced Costs: Operational costs can be reduced significantly through a planned and systematic approach reducing test environment configuration time, easy test environment access and setup, and elimination of interface dependencies. Moreover, since each component can be tested individually without waiting for the complete assembly, unit and regression testing can take place sooner, is more complete, and bugs and performance issues can be identified long before integration or user acceptance testing, making resolution possible early in the SDLC, thus saving huge remediation costs. Infrastructure and resource costs are also significantly saved. This can further be justified in the light of HPE Service Virtualization Case Study that depicts cost savings of £1.94 million through SV.

Reduced Business Risks and Increased ROI: With the ability to test early and often, defects get exposed when they are easiest and least costly to fix. Early detection of bugs implies reduced risk of defects slipping into the final product and faster delivery, ensuring that businesses stay on top of their competition in a cost effective way. This reduces the business risk of product failure and offers a superior ROI through speedy product delivery. HPE Service Virtualization Case Study depicts an outstanding value for money using SV,  yielding an ROI of 88.6%.

Better Quality: The actual product deployment scenarios can be mimicked with SV making it easier for QA teams to identify issues and failures before the product goes LIVE for users. Development errors are caught well in time through the shift-left approach with enhanced scalability, ascertaining a robust end product. As per the voke Survey 2015, 36% participants reported a reduction in production defects by more than 41% by adopting SV, while 46% participants experienced more than 41% reduction in total defects, thus resulting in a superior quality product.

Service Virtualization, hence, reduces the time, effort and cost of delivering secure, reliable and compliant software by eliminating numerous software testing constraints. It is, therefore, a smart investment for software companies, culminating in measurable, tangible benefits. Happy testing!!