Software testing is a crucial part of any modern software development life cycle. This is true not only at large companies with complex applications, but small ones as well—and those in between.
Regardless of the size of your organization or product, the ability to scale automated testing is crucial to ensure the quality of your software, shorten development cycles, and bring increased value in the long run.
It is very difficult to be sure that introducing a new feature or change set will not break something. An automated testing strategy helps to enforce the quality of your software by catching bugs before they appear and providing a confidence mechanism. If there is a bug in production, you'll need to spend more time debugging, which can be expensive and embarrassing to the company, especially if it is a security bug.
The ability to scale automated testing allows a business to swiftly and more safely implement new features, fixes, change requests, and gather feedback about its integration success, which leads to shorter development times and increased customer satisfaction. By writing tests, developers can begin to see the benefits of designing the code base in a way that enforces good structure and decoupling. Over time, the automated testing solution will be especially useful for preventing regressions.
Automated testing allows teams to focus on what truly matters: building and releasing software as quickly and as productively as possible. The full number of use cases to be tested can be overwhelming, even for smaller applications, and manual testing is an inefficient use of time. Automated testing lets the computer do the work for you, so you can focus manual efforts on what cannot be automated.
Automated tests can be set to run repeatedly, optimized for any time of the day, and can be set to execute upon any detected change on any branch. Alerts can be sent out to the team (or even directly to the developer who committed the changes) upon any failure.
Automated testing can be especially critical where resources are limited, such as in smaller organizations. Teams that don’t implement CI/CD have longer development times and release cycles. It's impractical to go through each use case manually. Without an efficient way to release minor changes, smaller features would likely get rolled into bigger releases. This means the entire organization slows down. Fast iteration means that an organization can bring changes live quicker, as well as test and experiment more, which allows for learning from customer behavior instead of making assumptions. In addition, automated tests can double as a contract for User Acceptance Testing. If tests are given as part of the requirements, a developer can be confident that they have delivered what was asked, and a product manager can be assured they have what they need.
When a company has an automated testing strategy in place, it becomes easier to leverage complementary test strategies such as parallel testing and cloud-based testing. Parallel testing reduces test time by allowing for applications to be tested concurrently by executing tests on different computers at the same time. Cloud-based testing allows for application testing in a cloud environment and facilitates scale test automation and high availability. It brings the benefit of testing in different environments and simulating different web traffic scenarios, without the need to build your own infrastructure.
An automated testing solution brings numerous benefits and is advantageous to integrate into an organization, regardless of size. However, an investment of time and energy is still required to develop, maintain and scale test automation and review results. If there is a failure, a developer should immediately investigate the issue and provide a fix. Moreover, manual testing may still be necessary if the application is structured in a way where it is not possible to quantify all the potential workflows and use cases.
Setting up an automated test environment is challenging to do well, but the benefits outweigh the costs quickly, and a company should always plan for success. If the business exceeds expectations, plans must be made to scale and release quickly, and do so without breaking what made the product great in the first place. Moreover, moving from theory to practice is easier than one might think with the myriad of testing frameworks and platforms that are on the market. If your organization still relies heavily on manual testing, consider migrating to a more modern testing solution today.
Daisy Tsang is a web developer currently based in Berlin. She has worked at companies in Canada and Germany in the past few years, loves learning about new technologies, and is particularly interested in the open source space. Her non-technical interests include knitting, baking, and learning new natural languages.