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Using automation to unleash faster, continuous application delivery

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Automation is far superior to manual testing, but it needs to be developed and used in the right way.
Automation is far superior to manual testing, but it needs to be developed and used in the right way.

Automated software testing is emerging as one of the most important aspects of one’s DevOps approach, becoming vital in the quest to better manage the lifecycle of applications.

Consider that the vast majority of the man-hours (and the costs) of software development lie in areas like functional testing, user testing, regression testing, integration testing, and the like. So it’s clear that by creating efficiencies in the area of testing, one is able to radically improve the delivery of digital services or features.

With automated software testing, teams can reduce their reliance on manual testing processes – for software that’s in development or ready for shipping. Instead, a testing program is written, which automatically scans code, checks software functionality, and reports any issues to developers in near real-time.

Test automation software empowers technology teams with a number of clear benefits:

• Faster time-to-market… by discovering issues earlier, bugs can be quickly worked out of the code, and the finished product can reach users’ hands faster.

• Cost-efficiencies… rather than endure the ongoing burden of large testing teams, with automation one can write testing software once, and use it repeatedly, for every line of code that’s produced.

• Enabling continuous development, continuous release… these principles are the ‘nirvana’ of application delivery, and are normally very hard to attain without the use of automation in testing phases.

• Better software… advanced automation software helps guide the organisation to create cleaner, more efficient code – by executing thousands of different test cases and providing coverage that’s impossible with manual tests.

• Skills are re-deployed and developed… by offloading basic repetitive testing to automation software, team members are free to focus on more strategic, more challenging tasks – improving their skills and increasing the overall capabilities in the team.

Business managers are placing ever-greater demands their IT colleagues – calling on them to accelerate the release of digital services, maximise the outputs from the resources they have, and move towards an Agile, continuous mode of delivery.

To respond to this, IT pros are realising that – for every single release – testing automation must be woven into the team’s thinking and operations. By developing and using one’s test automation software in every release, Scrum Masters are better able to guide software through the various phases of development, until its eventual release.

But even the most seasoned testing expert can easily become ‘starstruck’ by the dizzying array of automation tools that are available, the endless ways in which they can be customised and deployed into one’s environment.

It’s only by employing a trusted, experienced ICT partner, that organisations can reduce the risks of investing in automation tools, and ensure they don’t set off on the wrong path. Look for partners that have dedicated and well-established practices for Automation, DevOps, and Agile, and are able to sketch the ‘bigger picture’ of how these domains interrelate and support each other.

Your partner should not only be able to provide global best-practice consulting and technology solutions, but also the industry-specific knowledge to design automation software that’s perfectly suited to your business’ needs.

They should also have well-defined human capital and skills development programmes, such as certifications, exams and continuous learning programmes. This means that you don’t have to worry about the burden of training, and keeping the team’s skills constantly refreshed. You’ll automatically benefit from the training programmes within your partner organisation.

The right IT partner should also carry the cloud needed to establish relationships with technology vendors on your behalf, customise vendor solutions according to your needs, and even to influence vendors’ product roadmaps. All this, in the spirit of ‘walking hand-in-hand’ with your IT partner, who can offer authentic consulting advice at every step on your journey.

Automation software on its own may not move the needle, but when it’s wrapped within the broader context of a great partner relationship, you’ll start to see significant results.

Building a sustainable and scalable delivery engine means embedding the principles of automation wherever possible in the development process. Nowhere is automation more applicable than in the testing realm, where it can unleash new levels of velocity and dramatically improve the delivery of new digital services.

By Hemkumar Balaraman, Project Manager at Wipro Africa, Wipro Limited

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