Recently I watched a very interesting documentary about what it takes to keep an airport operational; from making meals, cleaning the aircraft, fueling the aircraft to moving millions of passengers every year with safety and comfort. It is quite remarkable how many tasks are occurring behind-the-scenes that, as a passenger, we never even think about. For example, nearly every major airport has miles of fuel lines buried below the terminals and tarmacs pumping millions of gallons of jet fuel to every aircraft. Right beneath our feet are literally thousands of activities that we know nothing about. There is a whole cast of employees that work keep every airplane moving through every airport. Lost baggage and delayed-flight horror stories aside, I think the airlines accomplish an amazing daily task that we pretty much take for granted.
On a similar note, the unsung heroes of great applications are often the testers who are working behind the scenes, under tight deadlines to deliver a positive, error-free user experience. These great application experiences help companies obtain and retain customers and generate revenue. Testers are a vital part of the development process. Following on the flight analogy, some airports have automated baggage handling systems. These systems help dramatically speed up the process of moving bags from plane to plane or from plane to passenger. Although painful to implement, this type of automation usually improves the overall customer experience and over time can help reduce costs for both airports and airlines.
But automating and improving the systems within an airport sometime require massive shifts in people, processes and technology. The sheer increase in the volume of passengers has necessitated many changes at airports in order to keep pace and maintain or elevate the level of customer service. In a similar vein, the application experience is driven by more customers accessing apps and their appetite for faster and better features. Therefore, testing processes, like airports, must shift and automate testing in order to keep pace with the demand for higher quality software, delivered at a faster rate.
So, how do we achieve Continuous Testing?
First, it’s important to understand the main objectives for testing applications. Testing helps ensure that the application’s product requirements are met, and that performance and usability are verified. Quality test data, therefore, is crucial to achieving these objectives. The more accurate the test data, the more realistic your tests will be. Compounding complexity is the fact that test data must now be GDPR compliant, in a specific format and reusable. This is a tall order without the right test data management tool and practically impossible to do manually. In fact, it’s virtually impossible to achieve Continuous Testing without a combination of automation tools and great test data.
Automation can mean a lot of things to development organizations. Developers have tools to automate the creation of code, for example. This has allowed them to make great strides to meeting shorter sprints and build better software. Testers now have tools to automate their specific processes as well. Automation tools can be used to generate test cases more quickly earlier in the development cycle. Automation tools can also help teams perform end-to-end or regression testing more quickly by stitching separate testing functions together in a continuous fashion. Automation will continue its unending march as vendors find new ways to help teams produce higher quality code faster. Cloud solutions are emerging to deliver test data and even AI is starting to enter the space as test automation continues its refinement.
But, no matter how you automate, test data is still at the epicenter of delivering high quality applications. Quality test data will always matter! There’s no way around it. So, the question to ask yourself is how your team is currently delivering test data and can that function be improved within your organization? I have a hunch that it can be. Better test data management is always in vogue and while the transition from legacy approaches may be painful, it really is the key to better applications.
To make your applications take flight with better test data please visit https://www.ca.com/us/products/test-data-management.html
Jeff Hughes is a product marketing engineer for Broadcom. He has over 20 years experience in technology marketing with emphasis on testing, application development, security, Cloud and network technologies. Jeff joined CA/Broadcom in May, 2015 and provides marketing support for Test Data Manager and Service Virtualization. He is the author or 11 books on technology and marketing along with numerous ebooks and white papers. He has been a speaker at global conferences and trade shows and has been a regular presenter at CAWorld for the past three years.