Today, CTOs are under greater pressure than ever to transform concepts into applications while keeping existing applications competitive. As such, automating software testing has become increasingly important for CTOs and other IT leaders as manual testing is commonly mentioned as the main bottleneck to the delivery of modern applications.
However, implementing test automation is more difficult than just developing a checklist. Rather, every CTO needs to think about test automation as a journey to an end result, but how they get there will vary, depending on their starting points.
Technology leaders should encourage their teams to build testing roadmaps. These strategic plans should not just outline the directions of their testing programs but rather drive their programs forward with actionable goals. Although a specific roadmap that works for one organization will likely not work for other companies, the strategy for developing roadmaps is based on some common principles.
In this post, we explain what CTOs need to include in their software testing roadmaps.
What To Include in a Software Testing Roadmap
Here are the steps to creating a first-rate software testing roadmap:
Determine the Scope
The first thing CTOs need to do is determine how extensive they want their teams' test automation efforts to be. As they define the scope of their roadmaps, they should consider any repetitive testing-related activities that require a lot of effort or time.
CTOs should follow this high-level process to help identify the main test objectives:
- First, CTOs should encourage their testing leaders to review the existing tests and get rid of any that don’t offer value, such as tests that don’t help assess the quality of the applications or that are now obsolete.
- Next the test objectives must be extracted from the tests to be kept and divided into different types of tests, such as UI, end-to-end, etc, as well as the applications' functional areas.
- Then it's important to identify the most efficient way to handle automating each distilled test objectives.
Establish the Approach
The method that's used for test automation has a major effect on how much effort it takes to automate the tests as well as the continued effectiveness of the tests.
Not every test has to be executed through the user interface. It's actually better to execute tests as close as possible to the functionality that's being tested.
Because the process used to create the automated test suite can impact how effective the solution is in the long term effectiveness of the solution, an iterative approach rather than a traditional waterfall approach is best. The reason: an iterative approach better aligns with agile development models that include testing in the development process rather than as a separate function.
Develop a Stable Test Environment
One of the major obstacles to successful software automation is not being able to maintain test environments that are stable. In fact, a test environment that's unstable can effectively invalidate any of the benefits gained from automation.
Instability can be caused by such factors as not knowing the status of key components and configurations of test environments that are inconsistent.
When developing the testing roadmap, CTOs must address the obstacles that are related to the test environments to get as close as possible to the perfect test environment. This will make future testing efforts much more efficient.
Remember the Data
Stable data is the key to stable automated test environments. As such, CTOs need to have reliable strategies for managing test data. Here are some best practices to help with that:
- Replace current test environment data with data from another source, typically from production. However, CTOs have to be sure this can be done frequently enough and that data can be coordinated integrated systems.
- Keep certain data objects to use with specific tests.
- Create test environments that are just dedicated for automated test execution, loading them with the requisite test data. This is particularly valuable in situations where environments can be configured on demand or configured quickly.
How a company measures progress is a major piece of any test automation strategy. The majority of companies tend to depend on counting metrics, such as the percentage of automated tests. However, this often leads to tests being automated just for the sake of automating them, rather than for the value automating a test brings to the development process.
Consequently, it's more effective to use metrics that assess the effect of test automation on the company's overall software delivery as well as assess the effectiveness as well as the efficiency of the organization's test automation practices. Better testing metrics include:
- Decreased test cycle time
- Mean time to resolution for defect
- Decreased test maintenance time
How CTOs Can Improve Their Testing Programs
To ensure successful testing programs, CTOs need to ensure that their organizations' leadership stands behind their efforts to implement test automation. In addition, they need to deploy the best technology to ensure they realize their desired outcomes.
Test automation is a culture of continuous improvement, not a one-and-done effort. Companies that are successful for the long term are those that continuously improve test automation, much like they continue to improve their overall software delivery processes.
The bottom line: CTOs that don't look at software testing as strategic initiatives won't be successful and will likely fall to their competitors.