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Antoine Craske for LambdaTest

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Leveraging Test Automation Platforms for Continuous Testing Pipelines

Speed relies on robust foundations in software development, especially when aiming for continuous testing and deployment pipelines. A well-structured base is crucial for seamless testing that can support successful software releases.

Moving hastily without a solid foundation is like constructing on unstable ground, resulting in foreseeable problems and squandering resources. A more strategic approach involves analyzing the required production capabilities to succeed in the long run.

This article covers the continuous testing pipeline challenges and required capabilities clarifying where test automation platforms make the difference versus custom frameworks or siloed solutions, highlighting the importance of a steadfast foundation.

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The Challenge of Continuous Testing Pipelines

Continuous testing pipelines are the consequence of multiple activities that altogether form a resilient system supporting fast and reliable deployments. Yet, building such systems requires overcoming multiple challenges within software development.

The software production system can be seen as the sum of “people, processes, and technology” where these three layers form altogether the environment in which teams can build and deliver software with more or less ease.

Each of these layers has specific challenges for continuous testing pipelines identified here starting from the foundations:

  • Technology: Test Data availability and environment stability

  • Process: Seamless integration and process visibility

  • People: Optimizing resource utilization & skill sets.

Starting with technology, a lack of representative test data can compromise the efficacy of tests, leading to inaccurate results. In addition, Unstable environments may manifest in inconsistent outcomes, hindering the reliability of continuous testing processes. According to the Future of Quality Assurance Survey, QA teams spend 10.4% of their time on just setting up and maintaining test environments.

On the process side, a disjointed integration process may result in testing misalignment, causing delays and errors. On top, A lack of process visibility can impede the identification of bottlenecks, hindering overall workflow efficiency and team satisfaction.

Inefficient resource allocation may lead to underutilization, if people can only do narrowed activities, or burnout if they have to handle too many activities with a high manual workload at once — diminishing the overall testing effectiveness.

Each of these challenges has to be overcome for deploying sustainable continuous testing pipelines. Let’s see how test automation platforms can help accelerate the implementation of robust foundations that can enable the entire team.

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Ease Test Data and Environment Stability

Modern platforms have evolved to seamlessly address test data and environment stability challenges. Their added value is to provide standardized technology solutions to common problems and issues faced in managing test data and environments.

The major issues of test data and environment are to (i) make these available for testing in one place, (ii) ensure their stability, and (iiI) deploy them across all environments up to production still guaranteeing availability and stability for different contexts.

On one side, platforms ease test data management with:

  • Generation of anonymized test data, is not only comprehensive but can also be anonymized, adhering to privacy and regulatory requirements

  • Variable data for data-driven testing allows the incorporation of variable data through the same test structure, enhancing test diversity and thoroughness

  • Connectivity to data sources with the flexibility of real-world data scenarios when needed for comprehensive testing through API, databases, or file access.

Complementarily, they provide the environmental foundations:

  • Application Environment Mapping for a clear and intuitive mapping of application environments, ensuring that testing environments align deployment settings

  • On-Demand Environment Provisioning enables agility in testing with on-demand provisioning of environments, eliminating bottlenecks and delays of manual setup

  • Environment Sanity Checks and Monitoring ensure the health of testing environments and addressing anomalies that may arise during testing processes.

These test data and environment foundations can be in place rapidly through the use of a test automation platform. From that base, the next priority is to structure a repeatable and reliable process of continuous testing pipelines where platforms can help too.

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Provide Native Integration Points & Reporting

Test automation platforms understood that they must support the end-to-end development process to accelerate the delivery of valuable software. That’s where they leverage the power of integrations and data points to seamlessly support the flow of iteration.

Teams using siloed “best-of-breed” or custom solutions built in silos miss the capacity to integrate multiple solutions along the process and end-up copying data between systems, and trying to reconcile data sources in reporting solutions to get a fragmented visibility.

On the other side, platforms enable to quickly integrate end-to-end deployment solutions:

  • Test requirements aligned with the product development flow, ensuring iterative alignment with the team sprints and requirements evolution

  • CI/CD integrations within the deployment flow automatically triggering non-regression and functional tests before final exploratory testing takes place

  • Monitoring and operations flow integration providing real-time alerts, and seamlessly connecting with communication channels for efficient collaboration.

Once that interconnectivity is in place, teams can leverage test automation platforms to get an end-to-end visibility thanks to:

  • Single Source of Truth eliminating the need for manual report creation, distribution, and discussions for the entire team

  • Automated standard metrics computation such as coverage and stability ratio, and offering additional insights that extend beyond conventional metrics

  • More time for decision-making with analytics tools embedded within the platform providing valuable data over time for informed strategic decisions.

Teams equipped with environment foundations jointly with integration points and reportings have now more time for added-value activities. Yet, test automation platforms enable teams to go for an extra-mile optimizing the skill set requirements in continuous testing.

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Reduce Skill Set Requirements & Saturation

The demand for a skilled and adaptable workforce being unbalanced worldwide, testing platforms play a pivotal role in reducing skill set requirements and mitigating team saturation with their intuitive interface and process standardization.

The fast pace of innovation pushes people to rapidly evolve their skill sets to better support the team, but they don’t have time to learn everything. Profiles with proficient skills for testing web, mobile, API of different typologies are hard to find, and temporary.

Test automation platforms come to an help first by reducing skill set requirements with:

  • Intuitive user interface allowing team members to self-learn within a few hours, eliminating the need for extensive training

  • Standardized approach to use-cases enhancing extensibility and ensure that testing processes remain comprehensible and consistent across various scenarios

  • Library of e-learning training with self-paced training modules complete with certificates, motivating and empowering team members to enhance their skills.

At the same time, platforms optimize engagement and productivity reducing saturation through:

  • Accelerated learning curve lowering the time required for team members to learn and contribute effectively, maximizing the efficiency of the testing team.

  • Collaborative testing activities allowing to share testing activities, facilitating reviews and collaboration from development to business teams.

  • Minimized time on non-productive tasks with SaaS models eradicating the need to invest time in maintaining frameworks or infrastructure.

Platforms empower teams to focus on delivering high-quality results removing unnecessary bottlenecks. These overall foundations enable teams to focus on more added-value activities : implementing their testing strategies and fostering continuous improvement.

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Better & Faster Continuous Testing Pipelines

Continuous testing pipelines challenges are numerous, but can be overcomed with a proper planning of required capabilities and leverage of ready-to-use test automation platforms, already matured to standardize and accelerate continuous testing use-cases.

We saw that the tryptic of “people, process, technology” must be correctly implemented to structure robust foundations to avoid resource wastage and team demotivation. It is about recognizing that speed is a consequence of an efficient system and the first goal in itself.

Teams must embrace that paradigm deploying the minimum capabilities that enable them to test and tailor the end-to-end continuous testing pipelines with rapid iteration, something test automation platforms accelerate with ready-to-use features.

Platforms are enablers of present endeavors but also architects of future innovations. Their inherent adaptability positions them as likely integrators of artificial intelligence, paving the way for sustained innovation, for those who, previously adopted them.

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