Have you ever marveled at the smooth, efficient way that traffic flows around a traffic circle (also known as a roundabout or a rotary)? Instead of intersections with traffic lights where vehicles approaching a centralized location from various directions are brought to a complete stop to allow cross-traffic to move before restarting their journeys. Roundabouts allow all lanes to continuously flow safely through intersections as long as approaching vehicles work as teams, pay attention, and yield when appropriate. This allows everyone to progress on their journeys - only slowing or stopping when and if it’s necessary.
This type of smooth, continuous forward progress can be likened to what’s achievable with continuous testing, an approach to software testing that emphasizes the continuous and automated testing of software throughout its development lifecycle. This differs from the more traditional approach to software testing, which firmly situates the process of testing at the end of development, when code has been completed.
When development teams leverage continuous testing services or take a continuous testing approach themselves, here’s what happens. As code development is underway, automated tests are set up to run that code - both on its own and also as it works with any existing code - to evaluate quality and function. These automated tests identify defects and provide information about them to help development teams address issues early on, thereby reducing the risk of introducing bugs into their software. Like the cars approaching a traffic circle, development teams need not stop working on branches of new code and give the “right of way” to QA and/or testing teams while they twiddle their thumbs at the proverbial traffic light, waiting for test results before either progressing or making a U-turn and heading back to fix a code error prior to moving on. Instead, they can keep moving forward on their development journey, receiving automatic, continuous feedback on the quality of their code; this lets them either exit the traffic circle if no issues exist, or circle back to address an issue just discovered in real-time.
5 elements that are key to the practice of continuous testing are:
Automation: Test cases and scripts are automated. This enables frequent and efficient execution of tests and re-tests, helps to save time and resources, and accelerates the feedback about software quality.
Early Testing: Continuous Testing facilitates testing early and often, beginning right from the initial stages of code development. You might have heard the term “shift-left” in relation to software testing, and that’s essentially what we’re talking about… shifting the process of testing left (earlier) to the beginning of the development lifecycle as opposed to treating it as a separate phase at the end. If you want to learn more about the “shift-left” part of this process, grab your dancing shoes and read our related blog post: The Hokey Pokey of Continuous Testing: You Put Your Shift-Left In, You Put Your Shift Right In….
- CI/CD Integration: Continuous testing is closely integrated with continuous integration and continuous delivery (CI/CD) software practices, ensuring that tests are automatically triggered as part of the CI/CD pipeline - allowing for rapid and frequent feedback on any code changes or new code introduced.
- Comprehensive Test Coverage: An important part of successfully achieving continuous testing is ensuring that the automated, continuous testing you set up is comprehensive. This means building a wide range of test types, including unit tests, integration tests, functional tests, performance tests, security tests, and more, to thoroughly exercise your code and how it all works together to support your contact center infrastructure and, ultimately, uphold the quality of your customer experience.
- Test Environment Management: Continuous testing works very well, but only if it’s built on good quality tests and testing environments. You must utilize continuous testing services and/or tools to help you update test cases and test campaigns appropriately to align with the code they’re testing, so that tests can be executed reliably and consistently, and test results accurately reflect your software performance.
With a library of automated tests set up to run code through the ringer, testing contact center interaction channel performance in a myriad of different ways throughout the development lifecycle, including from the beginning, development teams can get real-time feedback on code changes made and receive alerts when and if those changes introduced defects or regressions.
In this way, issues are fixed as you go, instead of at the end of development lifecycles, and testing is more thorough, as individual components - or units of code - are examined first, then tested as part of the existing system, too. This ensures that the code behaves as expected, meets the specified requirements at a unit level, and reduces the chance of larger, more complex and harder-to-identify problems occurring later on.
In a nutshell, contact center and CX development teams who adopt a continuous testing approach enjoy the benefits of this practice, including:
- Early bug detection and faster bug fixing
- Improved software quality and reliability
- Reduced time-to-market for software releases
- Increased development team collaboration and efficiency
- Enhanced confidence in software changes and updates
How to get started
Sounds good, right? So, here’s how to start on your continuous testing journey. To succeed at adopting and reaping the awesome benefits of continuous testing, it's necessary to design or employ the help of a solution provider, like Cyara, who can provide continuous testing services that help you orchestrate and report on the results of your automated testing.
This involves managing and scheduling automated tests and test campaigns, collecting and analyzing test results, and generating reports that provide the insights into the quality of software that your development teams can use to conduct swift, efficient root-cause analysis and defect resolution. Continuous testing services or platforms should:
- Make building and managing test cases and campaigns easy and automated
- Offer customizable dashboards that allow you to generate reports which show the quality of your software according to your specific, measured KPIs
- Automate the alerting and sharing of test results with development teams who can manage and resolve issues as they are detected
- Enable monitoring of in-production code, so that you can gather real-time data about system performance and behavior during live interactions with customers.
By adopting continuous testing practices, organizations can significantly improve their software development processes, accelerate delivery cycles, and provide better-quality software products to their customers.