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Why your Business Software Needs Testing Modernization Right Now

With the proliferation of software and the ‘there’s an app for that’ mentality, software testing has taken on a more central role in affecting business revenue streams and success. With any software, quality is key, and testing ensures that quality is upheld. For this reason, it’s imperative that testing strategy and QA be considered as primary components of the software development lifecycle.

Too often, though, testing is completed in silos where comprehensive insights are difficult to glean. Or, even worse, it’s an afterthought altogether. This can lead to the release of low quality software, which effectively can cost businesses customers and revenue.

Software testing modernization moves away from dated and disparate testing tools and processes to more Agile methods that deliver greater efficiency, better products, and clearer insights. Modernization requires that organizations take a close look at their current testing practices and evolve them across three main categories: process, tools, and people. While modernizing testing requires an upfront investment, and therefore buy-in from IT and C-suite leadership, when implemented correctly, it proves to be worth the time, effort, and cost. In fact, organizations that modernize their software testing often see a reduction in testing costs long-term, a reduction in risks associated with software quality, and an improvement in time to market.

Better Software Boosts Business Value

The primary goal of testing modernization is to deliver a high-quality product that satisfies your customers’ needs and desires. More and more, today’s consumers demand higher quality software—it has to function correctly, be easy to use, be secured, and perform across multiple devices. Does the term “user-friendly” ring a bell?

Add to that, software needs to be released earlier and more often to stay competitive, and this requires a more flexible, fluid approach to testing, where it doesn’t act as a bottleneck to development and deployment but rather flows with it.

Modernizing testing addresses these needs and offers plenty of additional business value. Beyond faster delivery of higher quality software and improved customer satisfaction, it can help enterprises reduce testing costs and redundancy, detect defects earlier, and increase efficiency, coverage, and quality. It also helps to improve Agile practices—and move toward a continuous testing model.

Why Modernize Your Testing

  • Improve customer satisfaction
  • Deliver higher quality product
  • Release version updates earlier and more often
  • Reduce testing costs
  • Reduce redundant testing
  • Create more efficient teams
  • Improve agile practices

 

Key Driver:

To Integrate Testing with Agile

Key Driver:

To Integrate Testing with Agile

A key driver to modernizing testing is the desire to improve testing within Agile. Most companies already operate or want to operate using Agile. When companies move from a Waterfall approach to Agile, testing often gets caught somewhere in the middle. While testing is no longer delayed to the end of the project, as it is in Waterfall, it’s not continuous either. It tends to fall at the end of the sprint. We call this testing Scrumafall—Waterfall testing within a scrum—making it near impossible to complete all testing within a sprint, especially regression testing. And, when testing is left incomplete, there is a greater chance of releasing a product that contains bugs and leaves the end user dissatisfied. For this reason, more enterprises are looking to enhance Agile practices by adopting continuous testing.


 

Key Driver:

To Integrate Continuous Testing with DevOps

Key Driver:

To Integrate Continuous Testing with DevOps

A second key driver to testing modernization is Dev/Ops and its role in promoting continuous testing. Continuous testing is exactly as it sounds—testing continuously throughout the software lifecycle, whether it be manual, automated, or both. Dev/Ops has helped continuous testing by putting the processes in place to create new builds daily or even hourly. While it’s not official IT terminology, we’ve dubbed this Dev/Test/Ops. No longer do test engineers have to wait until the end of a sprint to receive stories to test. When a user story is completed, it can be pushed to a test environment to test. As testing activities shift left within a sprint, testing is built into the CI/CD pipeline, and the result is faster delivery of higher quality software, better detection of quality issues, and reduced risk of project delays or production problems.


 

Key Driver:

To Stay Current with Modernized Technology

Key Driver:

To Stay Current with Modernized Technology

New software code and new tests go hand-in-hand. So it’s no surprise that technology modernization is a key driver for testing modernization as many enterprises are replacing legacy applications with newer options that use the latest technologies, including custom developed software or implementation of commercial software like SAP, Oracle, Salesforce, WorkDay, or ServiceNow. These new applications need thorough testing, including testing their software integrations and data conversions. And, because converting to and testing new applications requires a large investment, it provides an ideal time to use the latest testing best processes and tools to build a reusable test repository for the initial launch of the new application and its subsequent releases.


 

Key Driver:

To Accelerate with Automation

Key Driver:

To Accelerate with Automation

If your CIO is pressuring you to get more automation going, you’re not alone. Automation is often the primary focus of testing modernization. Leveraging test automation can help to rapidly scale testing while overcoming any issues that slow down development and deployment. Plus, it can reduce testing costs by freeing up manual testing hours. Oftentimes, manual testing becomes a bottleneck, slowing down the ability to respond to business demands for instant deployment of new ideas and leaving companies choosing between speed or quality. Clearly, there is value in test automation, but it also requires investment, and therefore buy-in from leadership. To create a strong business case for test automation consider time-to-market, quality/risk, and a much broader assessment of ROI.

Top 3 Reasons to Automate Testing

 
  • Efficiency

    Agile sprints require continuous testing that incorporates functional testing, and regression testing. It’s impossible to keep up with the speed of Agile sprints through manual testing alone. Automated tests can be run in hours instead of days to give quick feedback on software quality and prevent a growing backlog of bugs that never get fixed.
  • Effectiveness

    No tester enjoys performing repetitive manual tests over and over again, and mistakes can easily be made during monotonous testing. Test automation frees up manual testers to focus their skills on more complex software features not easily automated. They can also use their business domain expertise to discover the really hard-to-find bugs.
  • Coverage

    There is never enough time to perform all types of testing and as project schedules become compressed, test time is cut. Test automation can easily execute hundreds of test cases to increase coverage when time is limited. Plus, automated tests can be run simultaneously while manual tests are performed.

 

How to Modernize Your Testing Approach

Whether you’re still operating in a Waterfall environment or you’re the most technologically-mature Agile team performing tests automatically in parallel with development, the requirements to modernize remain the same: you need the right process maturity, the right testing tools, and the right people.

The more agile you are, the more frequently you can run tests, and the easier it becomes to provide software engineers immediate feedback on the quality of the software under development.

Process

Most key drivers to testing modernization, including those mentioned above, are related to process improvement. Things like shift left, improving within Agile, continuous testing, and test automation all fall under this category. To determine what process improvements your business could benefit from, ask a few key questions. What is your business trying to accomplish right now? (More efficiency? Improving customer experience? Delivering more, faster?) What is currently slowing down or inhibiting your testing? What modern testing practices are you aware of, but have yet to adopt?

If you’re not already operating in Agile, that’s a great place to start. Embracing Agile testing is critical for business success. The more agile you are, the more frequently you can run tests, and the easier it becomes to provide software engineers immediate feedback on the quality of the software under development. Agile naturally lends itself to continuous testing as long as a few prerequisites are met: the user story’s “definition of done” includes testing, there’s a strong continuous Integration and Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) process in place to frequently run builds, and testers are involved in every aspect of the Agile sprint. Participation in sprint planning is key to estimate testing effort and ensure adequate time is allocated.

Test automation is also a key process enhancement that helps to accelerate software delivery times, reduce the resources (people) needed for manual testing, and free up time to focus on value-adds. Automation is more than a tool—it’s also a process. The automation process addresses candidates for automation, best practices for automated tests design, automated tests execution options, reporting of test results, and maintenance of automated test assets. It should be noted that although automation has a major impact on testing efficiency, its success depends on having the right combination of process, tools, and skills in place.


 

With the variety of tools available, it’s best to develop an automation strategy and evaluate each option to select the right fit for your organization.

Tools

The testing tools you leverage directly reflect where you stand from a modernization perspective. Using Excel for test cases or defect recording is not going to cut it for today’s testing needs. The latest tools center around defect management, test management, test automation, and performance testing.

Defect management tools facilitate clear and timely communication between software and test engineers. Most organizations use a collaboration defect management tool such as Jira to record, prioritize, and track bugs to resolution. Mature organizations also have a test management tool for their test repository to structure manual test cases for reusability and maintainability. These organizations view test cases as an application’s assets, just like its source code. Tool examples include Zephyr, Microsoft’s ADO, Tricentis qTest, and Microfocus ALM. If you’re currently not using a test management tool, you need to select and implement one as a major step in testing modernization.

As mentioned previously, test automation is a major component of testing modernization. And of course, it requires a tool or framework. There are many tool options available for test automation—with trade-offs. Open source tools such as Selenium are free, but require highly skilled test engineers to build frameworks and automated tests. Commercial tools like Tosca and LeapWork provide a complete development and execution platform, but have associated license cost. Some tools require that code is written to create the automated tests, while other tools are codeless/no code and can be used by manual testers. Other considerations include whether you’re automating UI tests or API tests, the technology of your application under test, and the technical skills of your team.  With the variety of tools available, it’s best to develop an automation strategy and evaluate each option to select the right fit for your organization.

Modern performance testing includes both baseline performance monitoring during Agile sprints plus load performance testing for peak load evaluation. Performance testing cannot be conducted without a tool to simulate concurrent users and measure the performance of your application under load. Similar to test automation, there are options available—both open source, such as JMeter, and commercial, such as Neoload. Again, you will need to perform a tool evaluation to select the right fit.


 

Testing modernization provides QA and testing professionals an opportunity to grow their skills and careers.

People

While we embrace the philosophy of integrating current testing staff into an Agile team that can rapidly turn out quality software, we also believe in the value of having true software test experts, not interchangeable roles. Software engineers are expected to develop unit tests to verify their units of code, but testing of functions, features, business workflows, data validation, permissions, integrations, device compatibility, accessibility, etc. are best suited for test engineers.

Adapting your team to a more modern testing approach requires honing skills specific to Agile and automation. This means that testers will have more sophisticated responsibilities and technical skills, including being able to:

  • define functional and integration test strategies
  • streamline regression testing
  • test both APIs and UI
  • perform data integrity validation with SQL and other methods
  • verify user workflows across complex systems with end-to-end testing
  • perform exploratory testing
  • plan and execute performance and load testing
  • automate tests using coded frameworks or low-code platforms
  • assist with acceptance testing especially data preparation

In general, testing modernization provides QA and testing professionals an opportunity to grow their skills and careers.


When to Modernize

In terms of “when” to modernize, the easy answer is to do it when you are modernizing your technology. Any software transformation effort should include a testing strategy. But what if you’re not making any big technological investments and transformations now or in the near future? It still could be time for an update.

The best way to decide whether it’s time to modernize testing is to start with an assessment. Get a baseline idea of your current testing maturity, evaluate against modern practices, identify gaps, and create a future vision that outlines priorities and risks as well as a roadmap for your testing modernization effort.

What's Next

Together, we can help you with your testing modernization journey from identifying the challenges facing your organization to providing a baseline assessment and implementing improvements. The time is now!