Software testing has always been an essential practice in software development. Numerous companies, when introducing new products and technologies, aim to have experts on their team who can pinpoint all potential issues within their program. Initially, during the team’s formation phase, many managers tend to overlook the improvement of the software testing process and its test efficiency. This is often because, in the early stages, the focus is primarily on swiftly launching new features using minimal resources, thus giving less attention to the improvement of QA processes.
Over time, as the product expands, the team naturally grows as well. This demands substantial investments from the company into the IT team, encompassing testing. This ultimately prompts IT managers to contemplate the efficiency of budget allocation. Today, our focus won’t encompass the entire IT process; rather, we’ll concentrate on a pivotal segment — testing. Our goal is to address how QA can enhance the efficiency of software testing by incorporating best practices with minimal disruption to the process and the product’s quality under evaluation.
Is Automation Testing First?
The initial ideas for QA improvement that naturally come to mind for any manager involved in testing often revolve around automating as much of the testing process as possible within the team. While this is undeniably a highly valuable approach to QA improvement, it does come with a range of concealed challenges that an unseasoned manager might encounter.
Furthermore, incorrectly implementing QA process improvement solely through automation tools in your project can potentially lead to increased testing costs. This is because you might find yourself in a situation where you need to continue investing in both manual testing and test automation simultaneously, without achieving the desired outcomes.
Hence, our discussion will focus on methods to reduce the expenses of software testing and enhance testing efficiency prior to delving into the realm of test automation. This approach will ensure that you are well-equipped for the eventual incorporation of automation tools.
Take a Look at Your Processes
It’s a frequent occurrence that many companies squander their testing time due to inadequately constructed software testing procedures. Communication and collaboration among team members significantly influence the enhancement of software testing efficiency. The common challenges a team encounters are suboptimal communication during processes like requirements analysis, troubleshooting emerging bugs, and the extent of documented testing. The latter might not align with your company’s growth pace and eagerness to swiftly provide value to the customer.
These aspects deserve your attention, as testers might expend a substantial portion of their time unproductively. For instance, spending hours or days deciphering the customer’s intentions for a particular revision or locating the right development team member capable of addressing a testing-induced bug. If your company employs Agile methodologies in any variant, integrating the testing team thoroughly into this process is vital.
From my assessment, refining communication effectiveness and minimizing documentation in testing can potentially boost your testing team’s efficiency by up to 50%, even before incorporating test automation. Moreover, well-structured testing processes lay the groundwork for implementing test automation tools and optimizing budget allocation and time-to-delivery for the best outcomes.
What Around Your Testing Process?
Another crucial facet of QA process enhancement is the comprehensive involvement of the entire team in ensuring product quality. Let’s dive into two vital components that can substantially reduce testing efforts during the final stages of product quality control.
Behavior Driven Development (BDD) and Test Driven Development (TDD). Many contemporary companies have recognized that product quality and testing efficiency hinge not solely on testers themselves, but also on the quality and efficiency of the processes leading up to testing.
Behavior Driven Development (BDD) is a software development approach that harmonizes well with agile methodologies, promoting collaboration among developers, quality assurance experts, and customer representatives in a software project. This process introduces a unified standard for working with requirements by employing a natural and logical language for describing user stories, known as Gherkin (GIVEN-WHEN-THEN). This methodology empowers the creation of acceptance tests during requirement formulation, and the structure of these written requirements can be automatically transformed into automated tests before testing begins.
Test Driven Development (TDD) is a software development practice that revolves around converting software requirements into test cases prior to complete software development. It involves continually testing the software against all the developed test cases, rather than creating test cases after software development is underway. As most are aware, identifying and rectifying bugs at earlier stages substantially reduces the testing team’s workload during the final product testing. This is because testers often spend a considerable amount of time addressing bugs. If your company dedicates 20% or more of its time to bug-related work, it’s advisable to evaluate the quality of the code supplied to testers for test environments.
The Time for Automation Testing
Once you have optimized testing at both the process level and across related areas, you can progress towards implementing automated testing tools, following the principles of software testing best practices. It’s crucial to recognize that automated testing isn’t a panacea that resolves all issues and drastically reduces testing effort and budget. Initially, you must be prepared to allocate a substantial portion of your budget to establish an effective automated testing system and formulate a QA automation improvement plan. If your objective is to build a robust test automation framework that significantly trims not just testing time but also effort, pay heed to the following aspects:
- Streamline autotest maintenance by extracting common steps from tests and reusing them (Keyword Driven Testing).
- Establish an Automation Hub, either on your infrastructure or cloud servers, for executing autotests concurrently (avoid solely relying on local machines for test execution).
- Maximize test launch automation by integrating tests into your CI/CD pipeline.
It’s essential to acknowledge that each company’s process is unique, and not all QA improvement ideas may fit seamlessly. However, according to Deming’s PDCA cycle, continuous process improvement is imperative. If you lack the time or resources to thoroughly examine your entire applied testing process, we’re ready to offer a QA Review, assisting you in identifying growth areas within your testing process aimed at reducing testing efforts and budget expenditure.
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Delivery QA Director at First Line Software
Alexander Meshkov is QA Delivery Director at FLS. Alexander has over 10 years of experience in software testing, organization of the testing process, and test management. A frequent attendee and speaker of diverse testing conferences, actively engages in discussions and keeps up-to-date with the latest trends and advancements in the field.