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What is Test Automation Orchestration?

09.12.2018

When it comes to ensuring software quality, it’s easy to throw words like “automation” and “orchestration” around, but what do these terms actually mean? Is there a difference between “test automation” and “test automation orchestration”?

Yes, there is!

In fact, understanding the difference between these two concepts can help QA managers and testing teams get on the same page as they automate their tests, then orchestrate all the different automated tasks to test an application in-depth. Test automation orchestration can help the development team optimize the testing process as a whole while also eliminating human errors from the equation, but how does it work?

Let’s find out!

What is Test Orchestration

Test orchestration refers to several automated tasks that are scheduled in a precise order and can be executed one after the other.

Test automation, on the other hand, generally refers to a precise task or action that’s been automated using tools or test scripts, ex: launching a web browser, pressing a button, inputting a value in a text field, etc.

In other words, automation is all about individual tasks while orchestration is more interested in optimizing the process as a whole by scheduling a series of automated tasks in a specific order. Test automation orchestration is an efficiency tool.

If you’re still having problems understanding the difference between these two concepts, try picturing a symphony, which is composed of individual instruments (violins, tubas, trumpets, etc), the same way a software system is composed of different modules (database, network, servers, etc.)

To produce a harmonious melody, the development team must orchestrate a series of automated tests for all these different modules so that all the different functionalities and features of the system are tested properly and in depth.

The Many Benefits of Test Automation Orchestration

Adopting a test automation orchestration approach comes with many benefits. For example, orchestration can eliminate manual interventions entirely, meaning you’ll never have to worry about human errors affecting test results.

Even better, with the right tools in place, you can generate detailed reports for every automated action, allowing QAs, programmers, project leaders, and other team members to obtain clear, detailed and up to date information about the current state of an application, which tests were successful, which failed, etc.

Since every automated task produces data, it’s also possible to leverage the power of test automation to generate charts, graphs and anything else you need to communicate to all the different stakeholders the current state of your application when it comes to software quality. If the software quality of your application is regressing, data visualization will help you identify very quickly negative trends over time.

Optimizing the Testing Process

A test automation orchestration strategy can also help you structure how you use automated tests and various testing tools within your quality assurance process as a whole. Laying out your test automation strategy will allow you to identify weaknesses in your development and testing methods. In the end, these gains can help your team maximize the development cycles and obtain more business value at the same cost.

Test automation orchestration is also flexible, meaning it can be customized according to your goals, budget situation or technological environment. If you don’t have the time or the resources to automate tests for your entire application, that’s okay! You can start with your “pain points” i.e. the most important features or modules to ensure the well-being of your application. For example, if a billing module is crucial to your software solution’s well-being, maybe this is the right place to start.

Lastly, if your team has difficulty producing reliable test plans or reports in relation to software quality, test automation orchestration can also help you review and optimize these processes. As a mentioned earlier, data visualization is one of the many benefits.

Continuous Development, Meet Continuous Testing

A test automation orchestration strategy can allow your team to test an application or a system repeatedly all throughout the development process to identify and fix errors and bugs as soon as any issue arises.

An efficient and well-implemented test automation orchestration strategy can allow you to test your application from beginning to end as many times as needed. Some teams choose to test overnight so that fresh test results will be waiting for them when they come back the following morning, others will test at the end of a sprint or after reaching specific milestones.

Contrary to manual tests, automated tests can be repeated as many times as needed. Automated test results are always 100% reliable, as they leave no room for human errors. This means issues can be detected and fixed quickly and swiftly, long before they’re able to affect end users.

Using test automation orchestration and continuous testing, the team will be able to deploy a new version of an application on a live server and feel confident that the software quality will meet end users’ expectations.

Test Automation Orchestration: The Future of Quality Assurance

The goal of test automation orchestration is very simple: to maximize efficiency and to optimize your testing process as a whole. By embracing test automation orchestration and developing a smart, complete test strategy, your team will be able to speed up the entire testing process, which in turn will speed up the development process and result in both shorter release cycles and better software quality.

Moving from an entirely manual testing process to a test automation orchestration approach can seem scary, but by going one step at a time and integrating the right methods and tools, you’ll be able to make incremental progress towards adopting test automation orchestration. By optimizing the testing process as a whole, orchestration will allow you to save time for every automated task, which, at a large scale, can make the difference between a successful project and one that didn’t live up to its potential.