Software testing and QA have evolved significantly. From being activities of bug detection, today they have become a much more critical part of the software development process in development methodologies such as DevOps and Agile. One of the key reasons for this evolution is zero tolerance of users towards error prone and buggy software products. Along with this, the cost of bug detection rises incrementally when discovered later in the development process. Considering that testing and QA is generally seen as an expense in software development, in order to get maximum bang for your buck it is essential to utilize all your QA assets optimally.
So, let’s start by identifying the QA assets
To put it simply, QA assets are those that contribute directly to and impact software testing initiatives. The manual testers, automation engineers, product owners and domain experts, test cases, test data and the testing infrastructure are some examples of test assets at the disposal of the testing and QA teams.
While automated testing has cemented its position in the testing landscape, the role of the manual tester continues to remain relevant and a valuable part of the QA process. Despite the growing adoption of automation testing, certain tests such as exploratory testing can only be done manually since automated scripts cannot test for everything. Manual testing also helps in identifying defects and problems at a contextual level, something that automated scripts cannot achieve.
The test automation engineer is now one of the most important roles in the automation testing cycle. The test automation engineer designs, builds, tests and deploys automation solutions using the right test automation technologies to meet the short and long term testing goals of an organization. It is the automation engineer who designs the scope of automated testing, has to design test cases such that maximum testing coverage can be achieved using minimal efforts. It is also the responsibility of the automation engineer to develop automated solutions that increase the efficiency of test preparation and expedite the testing process.
Product owners and domain experts
Given that we are living in the age of software on demand, the role of the product owner and domain experts is no longer confined to software development alone. The product owners and domain experts are the voice of the customer and are responsible for documenting user stories and project requirements. It is through them that QA and testing teams can gain an understanding of how a software product is expected to perform, what need it means to fulfill, how it will be used and many such other things that help them decide on the scope of testing and the test plans.
Test Cases and Test Data
One of the most important assets of test automation, test cases provide the conditions through which a functionality or feature can be verified. It provides the information regarding the steps that define what needs to be done to test a system, the required data value inputs for the same and also provides the expected results. In a nut shell, test cases say what needs to be done to test a system.
Test Data is essential to ensure the quality of software in automated testing. Test data, which can be divided into Positive test data and Negative Test Data, is the data required to test a piece of software. If the test data is inadequately designed then it becomes impossible to cover all possible test scenarios. This consequently impacts the quality of the software in production.
In order to improve testing efficiencies, it becomes essential to pay close attention to the testing infrastructure. Testing Infrastructure consists of the test servers, middleware components, mainframes, automation testing tools, computing infrastructure, test automation licenses etc. An efficient software testing infrastructure contributes directly to the efficiency of software testing, utilization management, and downtime management.
As automated software testing is becoming increasingly mainstream there is also a pressure to deliver ROI. This means that QA must ensure that all these assets are being utilized optimally to deliver ROI positively and quickly. How can they achieve this?
With the push to automate, increasingly, QA teams will now have to identify if they are ignoring some critical test assets such as the manual testers, the importance of great test data or the value of comprehensive and reusable test cases. They can focus on some specific actions like:
- Making sure that manual testers become a part of automation initiatives
- Employing automation testing best practices
- Reducing complexities in automation testing initiatives by using scriptless test automation and scriptless automation tools
- Creating a resource friendly and cost efficient testing infrastructure by using efficient testing frameworks such as the Selenium Automation Testing Framework
That’s a short list – chances are your personal experience will suggest many many more. The point is, well-considered, and planned steps can ensure optimal utilization of all QA test assets, eliminate resource wastage and deliver on the ROI of testing. So are you utilizing ALL your QA assets optimally?