Do you publish automated test execution result in Test Management System?

Your team uses open source tools to automate tests? Does your Testing team update the automated test execution results in Test Management System (TMS), NO, then you may like to recommend this post to them.

Teams want to know from testers about completeness of the testing to take a call to progress their code higher in delivery chain. Usually Testing teams use a TMS to keep their test artifacts such as test cases (mapped to requirements/user stories), test plans, and execution results at centralized repository to track the progress. If your test automation results are not published in the TMS then your team will never get the real time snap of the tests execution and progress. With the results updated in TMS, you will have the history of the test execution to take various decisions.

Usually teams using open source tools, are not aware of they can update the execution results with an adapter to TMS, or they have not thought of it. Even if the automation team knows about it, they don’t want to update the results as their test scripts are not stable enough and they don’t want to publish the wrong data. 🙂 good point

My team has developed adapters for HP ALM, Rally and TestLink. Post automated test execution, these adapters updates the results in the relevant TMS. You could also build the adapters. ALM provides the REST APIs which you could use to publish the execution results. Those who are using earlier version of QC can use QC OTA API. Rally also provides the API for the same purpose.

In case you are facing issues to build adapters, do comment for the assistance.

Web services/API testing, go open source

Are you paying for the web services/api testing tool? Then this post is for you.

Few weeks back, during a discussion, Client shared they have around 1800+ web services tests and automated 1100+ using (I will not name the tool J) and they are planning to buy more licenses to automate more.  I advised him to consider open source tools over licensed as my team successfully automating and already delivered 1250+ functional tests with Open source technology (java, selenium, testNG, maven, Jenkins, extent reports etc.). After the demo, client got confidence and we have started automating new ones as well as migrating existing API tests. Plan is to migrate all existing test in another 4 months.

Let me talk about this framework, which you may also like to build and use. We have developed and have a stable REST Assured API based automation framework built with Java, where you keep all your data in excel, use testNG to drive the parallel execution to save time. Any licensed tool provides you, the feature of sending the request, perform the assertions on response, control the execution, execute test in parallel and keep the test data & configuration separate from your tests. Complexity increases when your services require some kind of authentication using Tokens or Certificates and do the validation in databases. Another challenge is when your api tests are fetching data from previous test’s Response.

Below is the high-level overview of the framework for your reference.

RestAssuredFramework

You would like to go through the below comparison with licensed tools.

RestAssuredAPI_Vs_LicensedToolComparision

In case you want to share your opinion or experience, please share your opinion in comments.

Testing in Agile based methodologies

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Testing in Agile Framework

In contrast to traditional SDLCs, in Agile, testing life cycle is squeezed from few months to few weeks and each cycle begins and ends in the same iteration. Iteration is like a sprint in terms of Scrum. Test planning is done at the beginning of each iteration during iteration planning meeting. Testing team needs to work in close collaboration with the development team and Product owner. During iteration, development team produces frequent fully or partially unit test builds for testing.

Though the objective of testing is same, the challenges of testing in Agile are different as in the traditional SDLC. However, in many cases, Testing professionals still try to fit the traditional testing approach, techniques and measurements in agile. This blogs talks about role of test engineers and what testing they should consider during the testing in agile..

In 2001, Agile manifesto was introduced to software industry to provide a framework to build software faster in turbulent business environment. Over the time various SDLCs such as Scrum, XP etc. complying with the Agile Manifesto, got matured and various success stories are backing up the success of agile methodologies.

Software is developed in iterations. Each iteration, agile team is focused on design, code, and test a small set of requirements. Agile team delivers a potentially shippable software i.e. implementation of small chunk of the requirements at the end of each iteration. Iteration sizes from 2 weeks to 6 weeks. Test engineers involves from sizing the user stories to confirming their correct implementations.

Sizing of User Stories

During User Stories Sizing workshop, agile team relatively sizes each user story against a specific user story size. Usually test engineers don’t participate or participate passively. Test engineers needs to compare the testing effort they may need to put in to test user story and accordingly share their estimates. Usually, development and testing teams estimates matches in terms of relativity. However there might be cases where development efforts are less than testing and vice versa. E.g. test engineers needs to put more efforts if they need to test a user story (As an Admin I want to see yearly reports containing monthly sums so that I can compare which month has larger sums). For this user story, testing team needs to create test data for across the years, months, and days.

Unit Testing

Unit testing ensures the developer are writing right code correctly to implement the desired functionality. It also catches cases which black box test engineers may miss and reduces the cost of the bug by finding them early. Test Driven Development (TDD), Behavior Driven Development (BDD), and Acceptance Test Driven Development (ATDD), are getting popular among developer community. They discover the bugs at unit level as well as at integration points. In cases where following TDD/BDD/ATDD is not possible, still Unit testing and integrated testing should not be compromised and implemented. To ensure the frequent and efficient unit/integration testing, continuous integration tools must be used.

Acceptance Testing

It is recommend that each iteration’s delivery should be designed, coded and Tested in the same iteration. To capture the requirements, User stories are being used by the agile practitioners. A user story contains the purpose, business value as well as completion criteria. This completion criteria also known as Done criteria, becomes the basis of testing and accepting if a user story is implemented as expected.

Test engineers needs to ensure that each user stories has agreed upon completion criteria. They are supposed to write acceptance test cases to ensure user stories meets the acceptance criteria.

Acceptance test cases should be written against each completion criteria and these test cases should be executed frequently and once more after code is freeze and added to the potentially shippable product.

Functional Testing

Though Acceptance testing cases confirms that user story is implemented as expected, but it cannot be the replacement of testing of end to end flows, alternate flows, negative cases etc.

As the new user stories are implemented and integrated with the existing software, new and alternate flows gets introduced, test data need increases, and additional user roles/persona comes into the picture. Functional test cases will ensure that these additional testing cases are captured and executed to ensure the correct integration between new and existing functionalities. In agile however it is not recommended to write exhaustive test cases as most of the test cases’ life will end with the end of iteration. Few of the functional test cases will be selected for automated regression suite. Hence implementing the test case optimization techniques such as Orthogonal array, Equivalence class partitioning, workflow based & risk based testing, plays pivotal role. More the test cases, more the overhead of the managing the test cases.

Automated Regression

Automate as early as possible and automate as much as possible, are the mantra of testing in agile. Software is developed incrementally and by every passing iteration, the regression suite gets larger while the Iteration size remain same. Gradually testing team starts spending more time on regression instead of Exploratory testing and testing of new user story implementation. As a thumb rule all validation tests and acceptance tests should be automated. However in cases where test automation is not possible, it is better to have a hardening iteration after every 4-5 iteration. During the hardening iteration, testing team focuses on bug regression and retesting, while development team addressing the bugs from the backlog.

Exploratory Testing

Agile is for faster development by increasing productivity and reducing waste & rework. Test cases though try to catch most of the cases, ends up with test cases for happy paths and known negative cases. As we discussed the need of optimized test cases to reduce the test case counts, still test case based testing cannot substitute what and how human mind observe and react while using the software. Here comes the Exploratory testing to unearth more issues in shortest time. It helps in finding scenarios and defects which with the help of test cases difficult to even imagine at the time of test case writing.

Testing team needs to work closely with the product owner to understand the end user. To ensure that exploratory testing does not go unguided, testing team develops user Roles, Persona and Extreme characters and then imitate them.

Measuring Testing Progress

Though working in Agile, project managers still judge Test engineers’ productivity by measuring the test cases written and executed in a specific period. Testing progress is measured by measuring executed and pending test cases. Measurement for testing progress should be Burn down charts. And to measure the quality of testing, Bug escape rate should be used. To check the stability of User stories, map Bugs with the user stories.

Defect Management

Defects in user stories implementation should be addressed in the same iteration. Still there are bugs that could not be fixed because of time constraints, priorities, resource crunch, ambiguous confirmation criteria, afterthoughts cases etc. Over the time unattended bugs gets accumulated and dealing with them becomes a challenge. Some team prefers to create a bug backlog and adds the bugs that could not be addressed in the recently completed iteration. With the help of Product owner they prioritize the bugs and fix them. This approach increase the overhead of maintaining two backlogs.

Another approach is to consider the open bugs as user stories and add them to Product backlog. This approach is least preferred as it increases the size of product backlog and product owner has to put more efforts to prioritize the backlog. Teams need to spend more time on estimations and planning. Also product owner resists as they have to accept bugs as user stories which he did not created but outcome of incorrect implementation.

During iteration planning, agile teams which consider only User Stories during the Iteration planning, have to struggle later to find time to fix and regress the bugs. Hence it is better to have 10-20% of Iteration length for bug fixing and regression. To reduce the bug fixing effort, Team selects the bugs which were found in recently complete iteration first as the code and constraints are still fresh in their mind.

Test engineers, next to product owner, usually has the better understanding of the system, they can identify the potential bugs which can be converted in to User Stories. Then these user stories can be added to Product backlog for sizing and priority.

Non Functional Testing

Team needs to break the user stories in to multiple stories to keep the functional and non-functional requirements separate. It helps in tracking both functional and nonfunctional needs. Testing of Nonfunctional needs such as security, performance, accessibility, high availability, reliability, and usability requires different skill set and expertise. Agile team first focuses on functional user stories of themes. Then team picks the nonfunctional user stories and involves the nonfunctional testing experts. Though functional test engineers remain in the team in all iterations, specialized test engineers are involved on need basis.

Buddy testing

In XP, two developers work on the same user story, one developer is writing code while another developer generating tests to generate quality code. In similar way, associate a test engineer with a developer. Whenever, developer develops and integrates his code, he invites the test engineers to test. Test engineers performs exploratory testing and explains the purpose of various tests. Developers consolidate the bugs found and fix them later. This approach is good as it helps in bringing the development and testing team on same page, unearth ambiguous requirements, increase collaboration and pulls down the project cost. Gradually developers also starts understanding the testing techniques and starts testing their code that consequently reduces bug count and increase productivity of entire team.

Role of Test Engineers

Keeping in mind the changing paradigm, writing lots of test cases, create big test suites for various type of testing, establishing various traceability matrices, filing defects will not bring the value in Agile. Teams are small and team members work in coloration in time boxed environment.

Functional Test engineers needs to have manual and automation expertise besides good knowledge of database. As the iterations are time boxed, they must be expert in exploratory testing and use skills to optimize test data and test cases. In absence of Product Owner, Testing professional has to play role of product owner. Automating regression suites is need of the hour to save reduce the test cycle in iterations. Team is working closely with product owner to understand user stories, hence the test engineers must have good communication skills and analytical skill.

 

What do you think about testing in Agile, please do share.

44 seconds, to check if you are an Agile team

Does having Daily stand up, Planning, and Retrospective meeting ceremonies, make a Team agile.

Just spent few seconds to respond 11 quick check points, to find out if you are an Agile team. If your response is NO for any question, then you may like to reconsider your claim of being Agile.

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Quick Check Items

Your Response (Yes/No)

1 Do the team members have direct access to the Product owner?  
2 Do the Team members know the team’s velocity?  
3 Do the Team member estimate the User Stories without influence of the supervisors?  
4 Do the Team members help each other?  
5 Do the Team members respect viewpoint and skills of other team members?  
6 Do the Team members have courage to accept the mistakes without fear?  
7 Does the Iteration (sprint) size fall below 6 weeks?  
8 Does the Team improve and tracks the action items determined in the Retrospective meeting  
9 Does the Team use various Burn down charts?  
10 Is the Team empowered to push back the change in the scope during the iteration?  
11 Are Items in Product backlog prioritized by their business value?  

These 11 questions look at the existing process from different perspective to evaluate the agility. Leave your comments if you have experience in working with Agile teams.

Empower your team, build a Responsibility Matrix

A group becomes a team when each member is sure enough of himself and his contribution to praise the skills of the others.

A group becomes a team when each member is sure enough of himself and his contribution to praise the skills of the others.

Have you ever faced a situation where in your absence, or that of a critical person, other team members are in a quandary regarding taking decisions, executing tasks or plans or sending reports?

Have you found yourself in a position where team members are calling you, as the key decision-making rests with you?

This is typically a problem faced by people who are managing multiple projects and are key to specific projects. Their team members normally have issues when they are unavailable.  This problem is compounded in the case of geographically distributed teams, or those working in different time zones.

If you have faced such a situation, this blog may be useful for you.

I believe the solution to this challenge lies in engaging with all your team members to create a ‘Responsibilities Matrix’. The idea here is to identify and list all the important tasks to be performed by the team.  Following this, the team needs to identify the primary and secondary owners of these tasks.  These responsibilities must be rotated, wherever possible, among other team members. This will help create backups and reduce dependencies on a few individuals.

I am using this responsibility matrix in all of my projects and a sample of it is attached to this blog.

The idea behind the matrix is bigger than simply adding tasks and the names of the engineers in charge. The aim is to develop a sense of ownership and team spirit. It is to empower the team, improve transparency and communication and lower the dependency on specific people.

How we did it was we sat together and identified the various tasks and grouped them under a ‘Major task’.  The teams then picked the owners of each Major task and recorded them in the Matrix.

The Primary owners were assigned the job of ensuring that the tasks were completed as planned. The secondary owners were directed to play the role of the primary owners in their absence. The individual contributors—the team members—were asked to complete the tasks. In case of a rotation, we advised them to make sure that the primary and secondary owners of Major tasks were not be moved at the same time.

I hope this gives you an idea about the ‘Responsibility Matrix’ and its benefits. I look forward to hearing your views on it.

responsibility matrix

Compressed workweeks: A new strategy for workforce retention

Compressed Workweek

Increase Productivity – Reduce working days

How wonderful it would be if you had to work for only four days and get three days off—starting from Friday and ending on Sunday. Interesting? Keep reading.

I read a few articles recently which talked about how a few organizations were experimenting with the idea of giving people Fridays off, in case they had completed their weekly quota of hours!

They referred to this as ‘Compressed Workweeks’. Some other companies called it Alternative workweek schedules.  What this really means is that if the weekly quota of people is 42 hours, they can work 10.5 hours for four days and avail of the Compressed Workweeks benefit.

Another option is for people to work nine hours for four days and then work three hours each on Friday and Sunday.

I recently heard that companies such as IBM, Qualcomm, PwC India, Dell and some others were experimenting with the Compressed Workweeks concept.

It is my belief that flexibility in working hours can help employee manage their hectic schedules as well as balance their professional and person lives.

The concept, can for instance, work for professionals who want to enjoy long weekends.   Naturally, they will have had to put in extra effort on weekdays and deliver their assignments on time.

While on the face of it, the model appears interesting, I am not sure whether it can work in the software industry. For one, it requires better visibility of the work to be done in every week/month and a clear division between the fixed working days and the optional working weekdays.

Another bottleneck can be that the software industry is driven by output rather than the hours spent in the office. Even Agile practices suggest that if a person is unable to deliver user stories assigned to him, then his velocity reaches zero!  Also, after working for 6-7 hours, the productivity of people typically recedes and produces rework.

Though, I am sure that the compressed workweek idea will help engage employees, keep their morale high and retain them, them, there are several logistical issues to consider. Keeping track of the projects, monitoring their progress and managing them will need additional effort.

The Compressed workweeks model can be truly successful where the work volume per hour is defined, as with call centers and software maintenance projects.

This is of course my view. I am keen to know what you think about the emerging trend. Do you think it will be a hit with the software industry, especially outsourcing service providers?

Do write in and share your views.

Planning to Outsource Testing: OSTC or OSDC

Outsourcing testing services to outside vendors (we call them extended partners these days) is not a new phenomenon. There are many Offshore Software Testing companies (OSTC) exclusively focusing on testing services, such as AppLabs (acquired by CSC) , NeuSoft etc. Sensing the potential of exponential growth, major Offshore Software Development Companies (OSDC)  are also offering, testing services such as Impetus, Globallogic, Symphony, and Persistent etc.

It is understood that outsourcing the testing will speed up the testing, improve quality, reduce project cost, and lets you focus on business. But when it comes to selecting an outsourced business partner, it becomes difficult to make a choice between OSTC and OSDC offering testing services.

OSDC should be prefered if you have vision to outsource the complete or partial software development in future. There are instances where few customers outsourced the Development and Testing contracts to OSDC and OSTC companies respectively. Usually this happens when a customer has already outsourced testing to some OSTC and now planning to oursource the product development.  Viceversa, if OSDC does not have appropriate capability to provide the testing, customer involves OSTC for testing services. Though OSDC-OSTC collaboration model is also successful, however in such cases ownership and coordination become a big challenge.

Only deterent to go with OSDC is they are more focussed in Software development , hence you need to check their References, Testing infrastructure, Talent pool, Ramp-up capacity, Testing  and Tools expertise, Attrition of testing talent. It is good to look if they have a Testing Center of excellance.

OSTC are usually keeping watch on current Software testing trends and usually acquire required Talent. They invest a lot in research and has right mindset as well as sytem to carry out quality testing.  OSDC has Testing Center of Excellance to serve while in cases of OSTC, the entire company it self become Testing center of Excellence.

Do you think that OSDC should be prefered over OSTC because if required they have software development capabilities. Looking forward to hear your opinions.