Optimizing Your Regression Test Suite

Jasmine Chokshi
May 29, 2018

Regression testing is a quality assurance practice that confirms that recent code or program changes has not broken what was working. To conduct regression testing, full or partial selection of tests is re-executed to ensure that current functionalities work fine. With the introduction of agile test methodology, regression testing has gained more prominence owing to the incremental and phased nature of development.

But, regression testing can be somewhat challenging for teams because of the dynamic nature of software and code. As product features and functions become more complex, it becomes more difficult to implement regression tests. But with a few steps and standard processes you can easily optimize your regression test suites. Here are a few tips on being more effective:

1.Regression Test Selection

Test Selection is necessary for optimizing your test suite. It essentially divides your suite into reusable test cases, re-testable and redundant or obsolete test cases. Testers can classify test suites into these categories to ensure usability and repeatability.

This step helps you prioritize tests by risks and requirements and also allows you to modify or delete older test cases that consume resources in your regression testing activity.

2. Test Tracking Mechanism

Establish a good tracking mechanism that keeps track of the features that are developed and tests that are added to validate future usability. Do this actively and consistently to ensure that he test manager can verify the feature checklist at any time and validate the coverage for a feature that is being developed in a sprint.

3. Regular Cleanup

Cleaning of old tests is required to maintain the efficiency of a regression test suite. You need to analyze all existing tests in the suite for their usability under a different scenario. It allows you to clean up older or redundant tests that need to be retired from the suite. In some cases, a few features may no longer be required due to updates or a different production direction; these tests also need to be retired.

Doing this regularly will ensure the health of your regression suite.

4. Metrics

Data lets you make intelligent decisions to improve your business operations. In the case of regression tests, the number of bugs can tell you the developer/tester activity before the release.

These metrics are important not only to understand the effectiveness but also optimizing your regression efforts in future to catch any defects that you may have missed.

Monitor the metrics for regression suites on a release-to-release basis so that you know the root cause for the drop in effectiveness, if at all.

Some of the common reasons for decrease in effectiveness of regression test suites may be:

  • Diminished functionality coverage
  • Ad-hoc tests added with a short-term view
  • Redundant or old tests in the test suites
  • Lack of sufficient test execution time due to increased test volume

It is therefore important to set up a tracking mechanism between features and corresponding tests, monitor addition of new tests, and periodic clean up and optimization when the tests gets bulky. Evaluate your regression test selection strategy to better utilize your time and effort. With adequate planning and evaluation of metrics, you will be able to maintain a robust regression test suite.

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