Too often companies find themselves ready to release a new software product, only to be faced with a wall of tests that takes ages to get through.
The traditional waterfall approach to software development causes testing to get pushed towards the end of a project. In addition to directly increasing the time to market, testing a complex software system from top to bottom requires leaders to pull developers back from building new features or working on other projects.
This method also makes minor changes or updates increasingly risky and impractical. A simple fix or new feature can cause unexpected issues with any of the previously tested components, invalidating months of work and reducing the reliability of the product.
To remedy this, companies avoid making incremental revisions to their system and instead resort to infrequent but extensive upgrades that overhaul a significant part of the product.
Organizations that test at the end of a project can spend years preparing for a major release.
As more enterprises migrate to the cloud, the ability to ensure a flawless customer experience by providing continuous updates has become a crucial part of any successful software development project.
Companies that cannot regularly add new features and quickly fix issues stand little chance of competing against more agile businesses. While SaaS and cloud-native technologies facilitate the delivery of updates, testing remains a potential bottleneck for sending changes into production.
The Agile Approach to Testing
The need for shorter release cycles causes businesses to rethink how they approach assessing the quality of their software. Oftentimes, organizations choose to adopt iterative testing — a modern methodology that involves making incremental, easy-to-manage changes based on previous test results or user feedback.
The primary benefit of iterative testing is the ability to innovate quickly. In contrast with the traditional top-down approach, agile testing allows for frequent updates without sacrificing reliability. This means that companies can deliver new versions in weeks or days instead of months or years.
Another advantage of iterative testing is a significant reduction in risk and an increase in software quality.
The massive amount of issues that surface when testing at the end of a project can make it impractical to fix every single issue. Iterative testing, in contrast, gives developers enough time to identify and address most bugs as they appear.
Finally, iterative testing results in more appealing products. Working in sprints enables organizations to adapt to changing customer requirements, implement cutting-edge features, and follow new industry trends. This approach also helps companies to support their products with regular updates following an initial release.
Testing for Functionality and Performance
Functional testing is used to determine if a piece of software corresponds to the requirements that were set out at the start of a project. This part of the development cycle can be manual or automated.
While testing the functionality of separate software components is rarely a problem, issues begin to arise during the integration testing stage. Systems that connect multiple modules to fit the needs of a specific business often go undertested, even when they are comprised of packaged solutions. A lack of automation tools capable of testing across business processes at a larger scale is often to blame for this oversight.
Manual integration testing typically comes down to validating the direct impact of the latest changes. This approach means many will overlook potential issues that might arise elsewhere within the system.
With each update adding new ways for bugs to occur, companies need scripts to test all software components continuously.
Performance testing, which focuses on analyzing such factors as response times, stability, scalability, speed, and reliability, is the next stage of the process. Also known as non-functional, these tests are performed in a production-like environment. Unlike functional tests, they often have to run multiple times in quick succession or in parallel, which requires a level of automation.
With automation being an integral part of the testing process, it is vital to select an efficient way of building the necessary scripts.
Automation Requires Shifting Left
With more testing software and approaches appearing every year, it is easy to forget about the basics.
Regardless of the specific tool or methodology used, testing early and testing often are the key to success
The task of validating a newly built system may seem daunting, but delaying the inevitable will only make it worse. Investing some time in building and running test scripts at the end of each sprint enables companies to evaluate the functionality and performance of the entire system regularly.
With a proper test automation tool in place and test scenarios already prepared, organizations can make changes as often as needed without compromising reliability. Modern software development is a fast-paced industry, and companies can no longer afford to be delayed by testing at the end of a project.