CI & CD are meaningless without CT

Article Written by Sanjay Zalavadia, VP of Client Services, Zephyr

Agile methods have introduced a bunch of new processes to help support fast-paced operations and ensure that products meet quality standards. Continuous practices have become a staple for facilitating these needs, but they can often be dependent upon each other to function effectively. Alone, continuous integration and continuous delivery can bring essential benefits but they cannot reach their full height without continuous testing. With quality testing tools, teams can uphold continuous testing requirements and establish an environment for successful continuous integration and continuous delivery efforts.

The importance of CT

Continuous practices were implemented as a means of ensuring that a deliverable would be ready to release at any moment. However, this couldn't happen if it wasn't appropriately tested. Users are placing a major emphasis on whether an app is functional and meets their needs when they download it to their devices. In fact, according to research by Localytics, 23 percent of people abandon an app after just one use. Although this is a slight improvement over last year, the numbers show that 62 percent will use an app less than 11 times. User retention is the name of the game for organizations that want to be competitive, but to do this, they'll need to step up their testing capabilities.

"While the progress does not go unnoticed, the percentage of users who only try an app once is still high, especially when we compare it to the percentages of just a few years ago, a time when the app space was less cluttered and consumers had more of a connection to brands," Localytics stated. "In 2014, only 20 percent of users were abandoning apps. This slight progress in user retention is nothing to rest on. We believe apps are at a tipping point when it comes to mobile and what companies do now will determine how successful mobile engagement will be in the near future."

Stronger together

Under agile and CT processes, QA professionals are involved with projects from the very start. This enables them to start creating test cases before a line of code is even written. They can be prepared for deliverables to go through their vetting processes while working to improve their test coverage and ensure that quality is being built in. In an interview with InfoQ, agile coach Rachel Davies noted the importance of automation in these environments to check items faster and more reliably. Automation integration will be an essential piece to quickly deploying changes within a day and taking pressure off of testers to complete other tasks. Continuous testing, along with automation, gives teams the chance to quickly determine if any changes would break the system and to verify that features are working as expected.

While it may not be feasible for organizations to use all continuous processes, CI and CD are ultimately meaningless and ineffective without CT. Teams can expect to patch items on subsequent releases, but it should be a mission to make deliverables as close to bug free as possible from the start to create a good impression with users. Producing this type of quality on a regular basis will show that the organization is reliable and committed to providing the best quality.

CT strengthens CD and CI in a couple of essential ways. Gallop noted that developers can live-test the performance of an app as the code is integrated. Information from these test results can be used to improve the CI environment. QA teams then can run parallel tests to identify any failures and validate that configurations are correct. Using these items in tandem will reveal smaller bugs that exist in specific areas, save money in the long run, make debugging easier, provide more precise results and highlight any discrepancies in architecture and automation processes.

Continuous processes are becoming an essential part of support agile software operations and ensuring that deliverables are ready to be released on a more regular basis. While CI and CD are certainly important to have, they are meaningless without having CT to support them. With CT, quality apps can be delivered on a more reliable, consistent basis and lower the abandonment rate. As the development landscape becomes more complex, CT will help teams identify underlying flaws and produce better software.

Continuous testing is necessary to support CI and CD.

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About the Author

Sanjay Zalavadia is responsible for driving custom success at Zephyr. This includes training, consulting, customer support and client management. Most recently, as the Associate Vice President for Patni Computers Telecoms IT Managed Services Practice, he established IT Operations teams supporting mobile content providers.

Sanjay brings more than 15 years of leadership experience in IT and Technical Support Services teams across multiple geographies for both large and small companies. Sanjay has a graduate degree from the Manipal Institute of Technology in India.