What Do DevOps, Test Automation, and Test Metrics Have in Common?

This is a guest post by Limor Wainstein

Agile testing is a method of testing software that follows the twelve principles of Agile software development. An important objective in Agile is frequently releasing high-quality software regularly, and automating tests is one of the main practices that achieves this aim through faster testing efforts.

DevOps is a term that Adam Jacob (CTO of Chef Software) defines as “a word we will use to describe the operational side of the transition to enterprises being software led”. In other words, DevOps is an engineering practice that aims at unifying software development (Dev) and software operation (Ops). DevOps strongly advocates automation and monitoring at all stages of the software project.

DevOps is not a separate concept to Agile, rather, it extends Agile to also include Operations in its cross-functional team. In a DevOps organization, different parts of the team that were previously siloed collaborate as one, with one objective to deliver software fully to the customer.

Agile and DevOps both utilize the value of automation. But there must be a way to measure automation, its progress, and how effective it is in achieving the aims of Agile and DevOps—this is where test metrics become useful.
In this article, you’ll find out about different types of test automation, how automating tests can help your company transition to DevOps, and some relevant test metrics that Agile teams and organizations transitioning to DevOps can benefit from to improve productivity and achieve their aims.

Types of Test Automation

Test automation means using tools that programmatically execute software tests, report outcomes, and compare those outcomes with predicted values. However, there are different types of automation that aim to automate different things.

Automated Unit Tests

Unit tests are coded verifications of the smallest testable parts of an application. Automating unit tests corresponds with one of the main Agile objectives—rapid feedback on software quality. You must aim to automate all possible unit tests.

Automated Functional Tests

Functional tests verify whether applications do what the user needs them to do by testing a slice of functionality of the whole system in each test. Automating functional tests is useful because it saves time—typical testing tools can mimic the actions of a human, and then check for expected results, saving valuable time and improving productivity.

Automated Integration Tests

Integration tests combine individual software modules (units) and test how they work together. Again, by automating integration tests, you get tests that are repeatable and run quickly, increasing the chances of finding defects as early as possible, when they are cheaper to fix.

Test Automation and DevOps

DevOps is a culture that aims to reduce overall application deployment time by uniting development and operations in software-led enterprises. Automation is at the heart of the DevOps movement—reduced deployment time and more frequent software releases means increased testing volume. Without automation, teams must run large numbers of test cases manually, which slows down deployment and ensures the DevOps movement does not succeed in its aims.

One potential pitfall that can hamper the transition to DevOps is not having the required automation knowledge. After all, test automation is technically complex. Acquiring the knowledge to effectively automate tests takes time and costs money. You can either hire expert consultants to get you up and running with automation, hire qualified automation engineers, or retrain current testing staff. Whichever option you choose, it’s clear that automating is essential for implementing a DevOps culture in your development teams.

Enter Test Metrics

What Are Test Automation Metrics?

Implementing automation blindly without measuring it and improving on automated processes is a waste of time. This is where test metrics provide invaluable feedback on you automated testing efforts—test automation metrics are simply measurements of automated tests.

Test automation metrics allow you to gauge the ROI from automated tests, get feedback on test efficiency in finding defects, and a host of other valuable insights.

How Can Test Automation Metrics Help DevOps?

By measuring testing duration, you find out whether current automation efforts are decreasing development cycles and accelerating the time-to- market for software. If tests don’t run quicker with automation than manual tests, then there are clearly technical issues with the automation efforts—perhaps the wrong tests are being automated.

How to Measure Test Automation

Some examples of test metrics used to measure test automation are:

  • Total test duration—a straightforward and useful metric that tracks whether automation is achieving the shared Agile and DevOps aim of faster software testing through increased automation.
  • Requirements coverage—a helpful metric to track what features are tested, and how many tests are aligned with a user story or requirement. This metric provides insight on the maturity of test automation in your company.
  • Irrelevant results—this measurement highlights test failures resulting from changes to the software or problems with the testing environment. In other words, you get insight on the factors that reduce the efficiency of automation from an economic standpoint. Irrelevant results are often compared with useful results, which are test results corresponding to a simple test pass or test failure caused by a defect.

Closing Thoughts

The DevOps movement extends Agile and aims to modernize software development with faster releases of high-quality software. Testing is a common bottleneck in the development cycle, which can hamper any attempt to integrate a DevOps culture.

Test automation is the link that gets software testing up to the speed of development, helping to achieve the aims of Agile and DevOps.

However, there must be a way to track all attempts to automate tests, since test automation is, in itself, an expensive investment and a technical challenge. Test metrics provide valuable feedback to help improve automation and ensure positive ROI.

About Limor

Limor is a technical writer and editor at Agile SEO, a boutique digital marketing agency focused on technology and SaaS markets. She has over 10 years’ experience writing technical articles and documentation for various audiences, including technical on-site content, software documentation, and dev guides. She specializes in big data analytics, computer/network security, middleware, software development and APIs.

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