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P2 Consulting was started by a group of award winning consultants who recognised the opportunity to build a global consultancy firm that had clients’ needs at its heart. We understand the challenges clients face – the pace of globalisation, technology change and increasing regulation – and the pressure they are under to respond to these changes rapidly and efficiently.

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We work on some of the largest transformation programmes in the corporate world and the public sector. Partnering closely with our clients, we help them deliver successful business change. Our reputation as a consultancy is built on excellence in portfolio and programme management, business architecture and design, testing and quality assurance and implementation.

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Testing Times – the Journey to Continuous Testing

By Jason Taylor, Managing Consultant at P2 Consulting

15.07.20

As waterfall software development gave way to agile, testing lagged behind and was accused of causing all the bottlenecks. But not anymore. The rise of continuous testing means that testing can keep pace with agile software development and help you get software to market faster.

Ten years ago, it was all about waterfall delivery. You spent months, years engineering a piece of software, tested it at the end of the process, found the anomalies and then went back to fix them. Finding and solving glitches as you go is a no brainer – so waterfall gave way to agile and DevOps and software development became faster and unleashed all manner of innovative working practices. Everyone wants to act like a tech start-up and create state of the art products, right?

Right. Although not as easy as it sounds. The cultural and operational overhaul that most organisations went through to reach an agile state of mind has been arduous. Untangling spaghetti junctions of working practices and processes has been a headache, along with figuring out how testing fits into the puzzle.

Easing the bottlenecks

When the software release cycle reduces from years or months, to days or even hours, how does testing adapt to ensure the software released in production doesn’t break or cause any bottlenecks?

I think if you spoke to most developers who work in an agile or DevOps environment, testing would be their biggest bug bear, because it causes the most traffic jams and hold ups.

So how do you solve that? Continuous testing. If software production is continuous, then testing and quality assurance (QA) need to work in the same way. In a nutshell, continuous testing is about transforming testing and QA into an on-going element of the software delivery cycle, rather than conducting it at specific points during that process. The goal of continuous testing in an agile or DevOps environment is to conduct ‘in sprint testing’ – so every type of test, some of which are automated, some are not – are conducted within each sprint, meaning at the end of each phase, you get software that is fully functioning.

But like the move to agile, the move to continuous testing isn’t easy.

Here are some key tips:
  1. Test definition: it is important to define the tests you want to do early, even before you start writing the code. Properly defining and communicating requirements and defining test cases and test scripts as part of the preparatory stage is essential. This will ensure everyone – whether they are a developer, tester or business stakeholder – is on the same page
  2. Reusable, measurable test assets and automation: having assets that can be used consistently throughout the software development lifecycle is crucial to the move to continuous testing, as is supporting these assets with robust tooling and automation practices. Reusability and measurability are important for efficiency and effectiveness
  3. The move left: in the same spirit as agile technology developments, it’s important that there is a ‘shift left’ with continuous testing. It needs to be run from the beginning and throughout sprint phases. This means testers work in close conjunction with developers and many tests are automated, so developers can test as they go.

Continuous testing is the key to unlocking the cost benefits and delivery time reductions that agile and DevOps methodologies can bring. For rapid fire software delivery and accelerating time to market, there has to be that cultural swing in testing to mirror the cultural swing that has happened in software development methodologies. And continuous testing is the answer.

To find out more about continuous testing and how it can unlock cost benefits and reductions in time to market in your software development programmes, watch our webinar here


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