The Secret to Agile Delivery During Unprecedented Digital Demand

This blog is an updated view on our previous post: Truly Becoming Agile by Piping In Automation Testing. In this update, we explore automation and agile delivery through the lens of this year’s increased digital demands, and with updated data from Katalon’s Test Automation Landscape Report. Download the report here.

2020 Marks a New Era in Digital Solutions

This year has brought an unprecedented change in global business. While digital solutions have been on the rise for many years, COVID-19 unexpectedly catapulted digital adoption forward, leaving the market scrambling to navigate this important inflection point.  

According to a report by McKinsey,

“Recent data shows that we have vaulted five years forward in consumer and business digital adoption in a matter of around eight weeks.” 

This is because consumer behaviors and preferred interaction channels have drastically shifted in response to the virus.

However, even as a vaccine becomes available, the need for digital channels is not expected to change significantly. In fact, 75% of those using digital channels for the first time, intend to continue doing so long term. 

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The Secret to Agile Delivery

To meet this growing demand and remain competitive, pressure is on for rapid software development. Agile platforms and teams are more important than ever. 

But, what is the secret to agile delivery? 

The answer might surprise you. It’s Test Automation. 


Why is Test Automation So Important Right Now

Let’s break things down. Stakeholders and customers have high expectations and low tolerance for defects. This makes quality assurance (QA) a key focus for any company hoping to compete. 

However, testing has traditionally been a bottleneck in the Software Development Lifecycle. This leaves teams searching for a solution that balances full-throttle delivery speeds but maintains product quality and security. 

Test Automation strikes that balance and enables teams to maintain or accelerate pace without sacrificing product integrity. This is why automation is the secret weapon for truly agile teams. 

Benefits of Test Automation for Agile Delivery

But, it’s not so secret anymore. According to Katalon’s report, Test Automation Landscape in 2020, 87% of companies have started adopting automation, with 70% having leveraged automation for over a year. 

“Automation is seen as an essential part of a successful Agile and DevOps transformation…Automation is also an enabler for organizations to focus on delivering Quality at Speed, which means shortening time to market while achieving the desired quality of delivery and user satisfaction”  

Automation addresses many testing challenges such as low team bandwidth, long regression cycles, limited test coverage, narrow automation focus, and more. 

By spreading testing throughout the delivery cycle, companies increase the efficiency of their teams AND keep continuous delivery in motion.

Benefits include: 

  • Faster iteration
  • Wider coverage
  • More confidence
  • More bandwidth for testers to do actual testing! 

Tools to Automate Testing Throughout the CI/CD Pipeline

For organizations looking to adopt automation or improve automation efficiency, we recommend combining a few different tools. According to Katalon’s report, 89% of organizations are using at least 2 tools in their automation projects. 

This image shows the top 20 automation tools used for agile delivery. Top 3 tools are Selenium, Katalon Studio, and TestNG.

Why? Different tools support different parts of the Continuous Integration / Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) Pipeline, so it’s important to find the right blend of tools for your platform. 

This shows where certain tools best fit in the CICD pipeline to enable Agile delivery. Tools for continuous integration include Jenkins, Katalon, and Selenium. Tools for continuous delivery include Docker and Kubernetes.

Need help building your automation strategy? Learn more about our Automation Consulting service.


What Tests Should We Automate? 

Now that we have looked at tool options, where does automation start? 

A lot of teams tend to focus on automating UI (user interface) tests. It makes sense, your customers directly interact with your UI.

But, automating UI tests is not enough to enable agile software development. These tests are time-consuming, flakier, and harder to maintain.

In times where speed and agility is key, this might not prove the best use of time. That said, let’s look at both N-Tier and Microservices architectures. 

This slide shows visuals of where manual and automation testing falls in two architecture types, N-Tier on the left, and microservices on the right to enable agile delivery. For N-Tier, there is a triangle, divided into sections. The bottom, largest section is blue and says “Automated Unit Tests.” The next 3 sections are green and from largest to smallest or bottom to top, read “Automated Component Tests, Automated Integration Tests,” and Automated API Tests. The tip of the triangle is white and reads “Automated GUI Tests.” At the very top of the triangle, there is a cloud shape and inside it is labeled, “Manuel Session Based Testing.” On the right, the Microservices image is a hexagon. It is divided into 3 sections and reads from top to bottom, “Integrated,” “Integration,” and “Implementation Detail.”

Segment size matters–and you want to distribute automation focus accordingly.

For N-Tier platforms, focus on Unit Tests, followed by component tests, integration, and so on.

Another way to develop your automation strategy is with Liza Crispin’s Agile Test Quadrants. In the image below, you can see where different tests fall within these quadrants.

Agile Test Quadrants graph shows where manual and automation testing types fall within the agile quadrants to enable agile delivery. The graph is divided down the middle with a vertical axis. At the top, the axis is labeled “Business Facing,” and “Technology Facing” at the bottom. A horizontal axis also runs through the middle of the graph. This axis is labeled “Supporting the team” on the left and “Critique Product on the Right.” In the bottom left corner (in the technology facing, supporting the team quadrant), Q1 is labeled “Automated” and includes Unit tests, API tests, Web Services testing, component testing. Moving clockwise, Q2 ( the business facing, supporting the team quadrant) is labeled “Automated & Manuel” and included functional testing, story tests, prototypes, simulations. Q3 (business facing, critique product) is called “Manual” and includes exploratory testing, scenerio based testing, usability testing, user acceptance testing, and alpha/beta. Q4 (technology facing, critique product) is labeled “Tools Automated” and includes performance and load testing, security testing, and *ility testing.

By understanding the effects of automating different tests, you can weave automation throughout the software development lifecycle (SDLC).

Setting Up Automated Testing 

Once you know which tests to automate, you can begin automation set up: 

  1. Create logical test suites.
  2. Select and choose what tests suites are needed.
  3. Configure automation tools with CI/CD server
  4. Trigger and run tests
  5. Report and analyze results

Or, if you want to make things even easier, accelerate automation with KMS. 



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