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Time for a change: How you can modernize your test management process

May 31, 2019

Software is everywhere. It is ubiquitous across industries and sectors. But as software functionality gets more complex, there are many concerns arising about the quality, safety and testing effort required to keep software going, versions updated on time.

Systems that are not continuously evolving can put an organization’s success to risk. Much of the software and services spend across the world is simply to keep the lights on – that is maintaining existing legacy applications and run the business.

 

But as companies realize they need to release software earlier than ever and include version updates, they require a fluid approach to testing. One that supports the testing cycle, instead of hindering it.

 

A recent survey undertaken by VMware and MIT Technology Review, spoke to 1,300 IT leaders and found that 62% of respondents named “the integration of legacy systems as their biggest challenge in multi-cloud, while 61% said their primary difficulty was understanding the new technology associated with it.”

 

If software testing is integral to your business, then you need to ensure that testing is indeed working for you and not a bottleneck thanks to legacy processes and tools. Here are some ways to modernize your testing approach:

1. Use Behaviour Driven Development and Test Driven Development

Test Driven Development (TDD) requires developers to write functional tests, even before they write the code. In TDD approach, first, the test is developed which specifies and validates what the code will do. This ensures that by the time the code is completed, the desired outcome is produced as expected.

 

When combined with Continuous Integration (CI), TDD ensures that defects are caught earlier and the code quality can be measured.

 

Behaviour Driven Development or BDD has evolved from TDD. BDD is all about technical insight and business knowledge. The key differentiator is that it is written in a shared language to improve communication between tech and non-tech teams, and stakeholders. In BDD, tests are more user-focused and based on how the system ought to ‘behave’.

2. Test Continuously

Testing in the fast lane means you test more early and often. Often against every change you make within the codebase. This in turn requires a sound CI process in place.

 

By combining TDD and continuous integration, teams get immediate feedback when a change in code introduces new defects or breaks anything. Continuous Testing establishes an agile and reliable process for quality.

 

Most CI servers notify based on test results and alert the relevant members to any problems. Developers can also use what is called a “feature flag” so that new code or features are exposed based on administrative decisions.

 

These feature flags allow developers to turn new features on and off, so long as an administrative flag is attached to the feature inside the code.

 

For instance, companies like Flickr, Etsy and Netflix use this technique to test out new features on a limited number of users or test the code that might not be complete.

3. Making Quality everyone’s responsibility

The new way of Quality Assurance demands that everyone plays a role in the overall quality. Not just QAs and testers.

 

Both developers and QAs have an enhanced role to play – right from accurate requirements gathering to creating automated code level tests. The entire DevOps approach is centered around breaking down silos and building a more cohesive work environment.

 

As a result, TDD and BDD are gaining more traction. These techniques allow other stakeholders, especially testers to be quality champions. Testing truly becomes complementary to the development process.

4. Replicating Production

Use a test environment that resembles production as much as possible. If you run tests on systems that differ greatly from the production setup, bugs are bound to manifest post-deployment.

 

Virtualization and cloud technologies are an excellent solution to this problem. You can easily clone environments using cloud services and perform tests against the replica.

 

DevOps brings together the major test trends – from “shift left” (the Dev side) to “shift right” (the Ops side). DevOps improves feedback from production to development and enables a free flow of performance information.

 

Thus, the approach to performance testing can be proactively managed rather than reactive. This is also why some companies run tests within their production infrastructure.

5. Integration is everything

Over time, even organizations that use old or legacy applications acquire a number of tools. One single tool cannot possible achieve all the objectives of organizations on their digital journey.

 

Use a lightweight and simple tool that allows easy and quick integrations with other systems. This lets you build a stack of technologies that create a complete ecosystem delivering the best value for your enterprise.

 

This means that your ideal mix of tools should allow flexibility, scalability and interoperability in the agile framework.

 

A common way of achieving this is by using open APIs. Exposing the API of your tool enables other systems to repackage the assets that are captured by the tool. This unlocks precious data captured within, for reuse by other systems. This in turn, ensures smarter and faster decisions.

 

Apart from speed and efficiency, there are many advantages of modernizing your tools and processes. From better reporting and insights to integration, greater performance efficiency and security. It is time to embrace the change.

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Jyotirmoy Nath

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