Don't Leave Your Automation for the Next Sprint!
In the fast-paced world of software development, test automation has emerged as a key driver in agile practices. Organizations are increasingly favouring automation testing over manual testing to accelerate their software delivery process, ensuring consistent quality, reducing project costs, and freeing up testers from mundane tasks. However, the benefits of test automation heavily depend on the approach taken by teams during implementation. The traditional approach of automating testing after the sprint is completed has its limitations, such as a lack of collaboration, an automation backlog, and suboptimal return on investment. To overcome these challenges, many teams are adopting an in-sprint automation approach, which allows them to maximize the benefits of automation testing.
What are the Problems with the Traditional Automation Approach?
The majority of teams still follow the traditional approach of automating testing once the sprint is completed. This involves manually testing the functionality and then transforming the manual test cases into an automated regression suite. However, this approach has several drawbacks. It reduces the possible return on investment from test automation. Moreover, it creates a lack of collaboration within the team and leads to an unwanted automation backlog. In contrast, in-sprint automation offers an opportunity to maximize the return potential of automation by automating the functionality developed within the same sprint.
What Is In-sprint Automation?
In-sprint automation is a method of automating the tests in the same sprint which they are implemented. This eliminates the need for an automation backlog and ensures that the functionality delivered in the sprint is thoroughly tested through automation. With every sprint, the regression suite is updated with new automation scripts, ensuring continuous and efficient testing. This practice also allows for bugs to be identified and resolved earlier in the development process, reducing the risk of introducing bugs to the codebase. In-sprint automation relies on collaboration between all roles within the team, including Business Analysts, Scrum Masters, Developers, and QA professionals. It emphasizes software quality as a team goal rather than solely the responsibility of the QA team.
Benefits of In-sprint Automation
Implementing in-sprint automation offers several benefits for software development teams. Let's explore the key advantages:
1. No Automation Debts
Unlike the traditional approach, in-sprint automation is based on the principle of maintaining zero automation backlog. With in-sprint automation, the product can be tested through automation at all times, ensuring that the testing remains up to date with the latest functionality developed with no debts.
2. Maximize ROI of Automation
By automating testing as early as the software is developed, in-sprint automation provides maximum return on investment. It allows teams to identify and address issues early in the development process, resulting in faster feedback, improved quality, and reduced costs.
3. Shifting Testing Left
In the quest for faster and more efficient software development, software teams are aspiring to shift testing left in the development lifecycle. In-sprint automation complements this shift-left approach by enabling early automation of testing activities, such as unit testing and integration testing. By catching defects early, teams can iterate and improve their software faster.
4. Collaboration Within the Team
In-sprint automation fosters greater synergy and collaboration among different roles within the software development team. Business Analysts, Developers, and QA professionals work together to define granular user stories, develop and test the code, and automate parallel test cases. This collaborative effort ensures that everyone is aligned towards delivering high-quality software.
How to Implement In-sprint Automation?
While the benefits of in-sprint automation are evident, implementing it can be a challenging task that requires a highly collaborative effort from the software development team. Here are some guidelines for achieving successful in-sprint automation.
In-sprint automation requires a shift in mindset, where the entire software product team takes responsibility for the product's quality. It is essential to understand that automation testing cannot be separated as a stand-alone activity performed solely by the QA team. Instead, everyone in the team should contribute to the automation effort.
It is critical to have granular user stories that can be developed, automated, tested, and delivered inside the same sprint in order to achieve in-sprint automation. Complex and lengthy user stories make it challenging to achieve in-sprint automation, as they require more time and effort to automate and test effectively.
Many teams make the mistake of focusing on automating test cases after the sprint is over. To achieve successful in-sprint automation, teams should prioritize automating the requirements within the sprint, rather than automating test cases retrospectively. By focusing on automating the requirements, teams can ensure that the developed functionality is thoroughly tested.
The test pyramid is a widely accepted testing strategy that suggests testing more at the unit and integration level and less at the UI level. To achieve in-sprint automation, teams should follow the test pyramid and automate at the layer that provides the fastest automation and better coverage. This approach enables faster testing and automation of user stories within the sprint.
Test-Driven Development (TDD) can complement in-sprint automation by aiding developers in writing automated test cases alongside their code. In TDD, developers write test cases before writing the actual code, with the intention of passing those tests. By incorporating TDD into the development process, teams can ensure that the code is thoroughly tested within the sprint.
Behavior Driven Development (BDD) is another approach that can help teams achieve in-sprint automation. BDD focuses on creating a single document that captures the requirements and expectations from different roles in agile teams, including Business Analysts, Developers, and QA professionals. By leveraging BDD and creating a test automation framework based on it, teams can enhance collaboration and achieve in-sprint automation.
In-sprint automation has emerged as a valuable approach for software development teams seeking to maximize the benefits of test automation. By automating testing within the same sprint, teams can eliminate the automation backlog, achieve faster feedback, and ensure consistent software quality. Implementing in-sprint automation requires a collaborative effort from the entire software product team, with a focus on granular user stories, automation of requirements, and following the test pyramid. By embracing in-sprint automation, software development teams can streamline their processes, deliver high-quality software, and stay ahead in the competitive market.