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This guide describes the business value of continuous testing for QA testing teams and presents a variety of options that provide continuous testing value.

Continuous testing is software development methodology agnostic. Although continuous testing was developed for Agile software development methodologies, it works for non-Agile teams as well. Continuous testing is a software application testing technique that works for any QA testing, developer or DevOps team.

Continuous testing means continuous bug or issue detection. Continuous testing includes testing across the development lifecycle for UX, usability, security, performance and functional issues. Testing coverage increases, including both depth and breadth.

QA testing teams build their skills by learning to execute tests within all testing types including functional, regression, integration, API and security. Automated or manual tests support continuous testing. Is there anything continuous testing can’t do?

Key Takeaways

  • What is continuous testing?
  • Why is continuous testing valuable?
  • Discover the benefits of continuous testing.
  • Find out the different types of continuous testing.
  • Learn how to create custom continuous testing suites.
  • How to keep testers engaged in continuous testing?

This guide describes the business value of continuous testing for QA testing teams and presents a variety of options that provide continuous testing value.

What Is Continuous Testing?

Continuous testing (CT) is a software development process where applications are tested continuously throughout the software development life cycle (SDLC). The goal is to provide effective testing feedback early and often to ensure higher-quality application releases that impress customers.

Continuous testing takes the concept of continuous integration (continuous development and deployment) and puts it in the QA testing realm. Continuous deployment is a way for Agile and DevOps software development teams to improve software quality by releasing code changes in smaller packages more frequently.

Advantages of continuous deployment include:

  • Smaller code changes, so it’s easier to isolate issues
  • Faster defect resolution
  • Automated unit testing
  • Quicker release cycles
  • Improved customer satisfaction
  • Reduced costs

Continuous testing simply takes a continuous cycle and uses it for testing: regression, integration, performance, security—whatever the testing type. Continuous testing is executing new and existing test cases on an ongoing basis rather than during a planned testing cycle. Testing occurs during development, post-development, and both pre- and post-release.

Why Is Continuous Testing Valuable?

What is the benefit of continuous testing? Consistent and continuous issue detection becomes possible with continuous testing. For example, instead of waiting until near the end of the development cycle to perform security, performance and API testing, all are included in the mix and continually tested.

Continuous testing finds defects between code builds. Regardless of how many bug fixes or new code is merged in, QA testers find new defects more effectively with continuous testing. The ability to find defects or even user experience issues early saves both time and development costs while enhancing the application’s user experience.

Other valuable effects of continuous testing include:

  • Removes the need to schedule separate test execution periods.
  • Provides testing support for DevOps and continuous deployment models.
  • Provides testing support for DesignOps and user experience or usability.
  • Reduces risk by testing across the full development life cycle.
  • Increases visibility into problematic application function areas.
  • Saves developers time and keeps them working by not having to wait for QA testing cycles to complete.
  • Reduces departmental silos while enhancing team collaboration.

Another value of continuous testing is it doesn’t require any additional tools or training. If the QA team already has either automated or manual test cases, then the organization can begin continuous testing. Granted, the QA team may spend time organizing test suites and planning assignments, but no need to purchase additional tools or provide training.

What Are Different Types of Continuous Testing?

Most continuous testing aficionados will say continuous testing requires automated test suites. However, that’s not true. It is useful to include existing or create automated tests to use in continuous testing, but it’s not required. QA teams that test manually can realize the benefits of continuous testing.

Historically, QA testing occurs during new story or feature testing and again during planned regression test execution periods. However, by using continuous testing, the value of testing extends throughout the development lifecycle. QA testing doesn’t stop after testing new features but continues. Regression, integration, security, performance and usability testing, among others, are mixed in and executed in an ongoing, non-stop or continuous cycle.

QA testing teams can create continuous testing suites from both manual or automated test cases or a mixture of both. It only depends on what types of tests exist. Where automated tests exist, they can be easily mixed in with manual tests using continuous testing. The only disadvantage to automated tests is failure analysis. When automated tests fail, a QA needs to determine if the issue is with the test script or an application defect.

When including automated tests in continuous testing, assign a dedicated resource to perform the failure analysis. By assigning a dedicated resource, the rest of the QA team can continue their testing uninterrupted while the automated test issues, if any, are handled by the assigned team member.

Create as many customized testing suites as needed. Break them up into groups of 100 or fewer tests for greater efficiency. QA testers pick up their assigned tests and execute them in between testing new stories or features. There’s no end to testing—it continues one suite after another, forever.

How to Keep Testers Engaged in Continuous Testing?

Let’s look at the last statement for a moment: “There’s no end to testing—it continues one suite after another, forever.” Forever is a long time. Executing the same tests repeatedly and continuously can be boring and result in QA testers becoming disengaged with the application and the need for a positive user experience.

When QA testers, developers or UX designers become disengaged with the application or product, it’s a problem. Without active, interested participation, the application quality suffers through a lack of innovation and uniqueness which results in either defects or poor user experience. How can the team or organization combat QA test fatigue and keep testers engaged?

Most applications have distinct functional areas that can be separated into modules. Modules can be used as test suites. Consider switching up test execution suites every 90 days to ensure testers are receiving new and different tests to execute. By switching up testing assignments, more testers gain experience in different areas of the application, and they remain engaged in providing effective testing.

Another option mentioned previously is creating test execution suites that include various types of testing including security, performance and API testing as examples. Typically, these types of tests are done by specialists. However, if QA testers can select to execute these types of specialized tests, they will gain valuable skills that add to the value of the QA testing team.

Additionally, the more eyes on specialized tests, the more defects buried deep in the code are discovered. Discovery keeps QA testers engaged in their craft by challenging them to learn and dig deeper. Keep testers engaged by allowing them to learn specialized testing procedures and extend their skills.

Continuous testing provides benefits to software development organizations by finding issues across the entire development lifecycle. Testing continuously works to eliminate defects and add significant value to the end-user experience each release.

Continuous testing supports DevOps, DesignOps and development, regardless of the software development methodology used. Continuous testing can be applied to any QA testing team using automated or manual test suites built with existing and new tests. Test execution continues without stopping or having to plan separate test execution efforts.

Need help organizing test cases for continuous testing? Consider tools to make managing testing both efficient and effective. Testing tools like Telerik Test Studio leverage the latest in testing technology for creating, managing and executing continuous testing.

About the Author

Amy Reichert

A QA test professional with 23+ years of QA testing experience within a variety of software development teams, Amy Reichert has extensive experience in QA process development & planning, team leadership/management, and QA project management.  She has worked on multiple types of software development methodologies including waterfall, agile, scrum, kanban and customized combinations. Amy enjoys continuing to improve her software testing craft by researching and writing on a variety of related topics. In her spare time, she enjoys gardening, cat management and the outdoors.


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