What Is Continuous Testing?

Many companies are trying to accelerate their development cycles so that they can deliver more business value faster and stand out from the competition. Unfortunately, developing more functionalities faster can also lead to software errors or bugs not being caught in time. To accelerate development cycles while continuing to deliver high software quality, organizations must adopt continuous testing and test automation.

So, What Is Continuous Testing?

Continuous Testing (or CT) is often mentioned in the context of an Agile or DevOps development process. A Continuous Testing process allows the development team and QA specialists to test an application quickly, easily and regularly thanks to automated tests. In other words, Continuous Testing allows your team to evaluate quality at every step of the development cycle.

For software that requires frequent updates, such as a web or mobile application, continuous testing allows the development team to test an application on a regular basis, such as once per day, to identify errors or software bugs, to ensure that high software quality is being delivered and to prevent software quality from regressing over time.

A well-integrated Continuous Testing process can make the difference between a regular update and a risky deployment. In today’s software-driven world, an update that does not satisfy users in terms of software quality can have disastrous consequences for your company and your brand. In other words, a software failure is a business failure.

Why Should You Implement Continuous Testing?

Thanks to test automation and continuous testing, developers and QA specialists can discover errors and bugs faster and with much more precision. As soon as an error is introduced into a module or a functionality, automated tests can identify the source of this error, allowing developers to correct the issue quickly and efficiently. Moreover, Continuous Testing can provide the team with useful data that facilitates the decision-making process and improves transparency. For example, test data can help the development team determine more confidently whether or not an update is ready to be launched.

Since Continuous Testing enables rapid feedback, it can also cut down the time needed for code reviews. As a whole, continuous testing accelerates software delivery, improves code quality, helps the team assess risk and provides the team with a continuous feedback mechanism. Because of its structure, continuous testing also encourages the development and testing teams to merge and work together, as opposed to work in silos.

Implementing a Continuous Testing Process

Development and quality assurance process can vary greatly from one organization to the next depending on the technological environment, the business needs of the company and various other factors. Some legacy testing tools aren’t a very good fit for Continuous Testing, especially if tests can’t be implemented until late in each sprint, if they create unstable test environments or if the execution time is too slow, preventing the team from running complete regression tests for each build.

If your quality assurance process is currently entirely manual, don’t try to implement a fully automated continuous testing process all at once. You should start instead with a simple pilot project that allows you to implement test automation first, then a continuous testing process gradually. Many different tools on the market, such as Jenkins, can help you improve automation within your development process. A complete and versatile test automation platform will also come in handy, so make sure to do some research first to determine which tools and platforms will allow you to accomplish your objectives.

The next step is to automate a simple task, then gradually move on to automating more complex tasks. Your end goal should be not only to improve software quality for your application, but also to lower the amount of time required to test your application in depth (moving from a few weeks to a few hours, for example) and the way the majority of the tests are executed (moving from an entirely manual testing process to a process that’s more automated than manual, for example).

Over time, little by little, you’ll reduce the amount of efforts required to test your application in depth. This will allow your development team to focus more on developing new functionalities and modules while relying on a solid quality assurance process that provides them with reliable and frequently updated test data.

Continuous Testing Means Continuous Improvement

In the world of software, quality is one of the most important differentiators. Implementing a continuous testing process within your organization can allow you to improve software quality, the velocity of your team and your capacity to measure software quality. Continuous Testing has been endorsed by teams around the world that recognize its potential to enable faster releases and improve software quality while cutting down on testing time and costs. Continuous Testing means software quality is constantly monitored, re-appraised and re-evaluated.

In the world of DevOps, Continuous Testing also works hand in hand with Continuous Integration and popular CI tools like Agile GO, Jenkins, Chef, Puppet, Hudson, Microsoft TFS, Cruise Control or Bamboo, helping prevent integration problems. Its most important characteristic, however, is that it allows the team to deploy the new version of an application or system and feel confident that the software quality of this new version will live up to users’ expectations.

With new technologies emerging (Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, the Internet of Things, Augmented Reality, etc), software development will continue to grow in complexity in the coming years, which is why right now is the perfect time to implement a Continuous Testing process within your organization. Given the increased complexity and the pace of modern software development and delivery, mastering Continuous Testing is a must.

From a business perspective, Continuous Testing makes perfect sense. It adds business value to every step of the development process and encourages more collaboration within the development team. It can make the testing process more Agile. In the end, your organization will deliver more business value to your customers.

Do you have questions about Continuous Testing? What Continuous Integration tool do you use? Let us know in the comments!