Technical debt is the most common and highly problematic issue in the field of software engineering. It has gained popularity in the agile development system over the years. You can think of technical debt as friction in the car. The more you keep on ignoring it, the more you will have to spend to fix the problem. The better and smart way is to deal with the issue at the early stage.
Technical debt occurs when you try to take the shortcut to deliver the product faster. The technical teams intentionally or unintentionally make such technical decisions that guarantee them short-term returns. These shortcuts could be beneficial for a shorter duration but could prove to be devastating in longer terms.
Technical debt can occur at any stage of the development lifecycle model. It could be code debt, design debt, architecture debt, test debt, documentation debt.
When the coder violates the coding guidelines, code debt occurs. Design debt occurs when the design constraints are violated. When the documents are not proper or there are not any documents for important concerns, documentation debt occurs. When there is a lack of test cases or there is inadequate test coverage, we call it a case of test debt.
In this article, we are going to study in-depth test debts. What is test automation debt? How it is measured and mitigated? So keep reading to know more about test debts.
What is test debt?
As discussed earlier, test debt is a term used to describe the difference between the ideal state of the project and the current state of the project. This term was first coined and used by Ward Cunningham. Cunningham stated when we move faster in one direction, say delivering the software on time, we tend to pace down in the other direction, say design or coding.
Test debt can be related to financial debts. In financial debt, you borrow money from someone and with time interest is added to the amount. Things go right till you keep on paying the amount back on time. As soon as you stop, the amount keeps on increasing, and eventually, it can even lead to bankruptcy.
Similarly, when we talk about test debt, it is caused because of factors that are beyond the control of the development team. As long as we repay the debt by taking necessary and preventing actions, everything is fine. But, immediately as we stop, the debt keeps on accumulating and there comes a time when the software reaches a stage of “technical bankruptcy”.
As we can see in the above image only the top of the iceberg is visible while the rest of the part is hidden. Likely, these technical depts are not visible to all the groups of the organization. Some of the technicians know about them while others are unaware of the fact that technical debts exist.
Now lets us talk about the methods we can use to measure and mitigate the growing risks of test automation debt.
Methodologies used to measure and mitigate them:-
Your tool is your weapon
First thing first, why do we prefer automation testing over manual testing? This is because we need to speed up our process, not slow it down. Automation testing is performed with the help of a tool. So without any doubt, we need a tool that suits best to all our needs. It is like choosing the right standard and size of the bat while going out to play cricket.
LambdaTest Selenium Test Automation seems like a good choice. You can exponentially increase your test coverage by using this tool. LambdaTest selenium test automation tool lets you run your selenium test scripts over 3000+ mobile and desktop devices.
Not only this, you can perform parallel test execution and cut down the time. Also, the company claims that the Hypertest feature is the fastest test execution platform. It is the future of test execution in Agile teams.
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Understand your test debt stage and identify the best approach
Depending on the testing debt you need to identify the adoption stage on which the test is proceeding. Once the stage and risk of the debt are identified try to resolve those risks. The following measures can be taken to control the debt:
Keep it as it is: Sometimes debt is not very dangerous. In such cases, we do not perform any action on the debt. We just ignore it. With time it gets resolved with the testing processes.
Incremental Refactoring: Refactoring process is like performing surgery on the broken part of the code. By paying attention to every single sprint we can reduce the technical debt. This method is a little expensive but it will pay back in the future run.
Replacing the system: Some debts are like cancerous cells in the human body. Such technical debts tend to eat up the whole system. This is why the last option that remains is to remove and replace the system.
Focus on the test suits and documents
The next major area to focus on is to properly design the documents and the test cases. The test cases should be designed in the manner that it should cover all the areas of the test. Some of the areas are :
Test the positive values.
Test the negative values.
Test the boundary values.
Test the values that are less than the boundary values.
Test the values that are more than the boundary values.
Creating automated test cases is a serious business. So, do not get upset if at the beginning of the testing process your test does not work as expected. It is a matter of practice and keep on performing manual testing until you get the right automation test case.
Documenting all the possible outcomes, the types of issues, their resolution method, who is responsible for them and what are the consequences, is the proper way of keeping track of all the debts.
Trace your debts and align your backlog
As we have discussed earlier that it is best to keep repaying the debt else the debt will keep on accumulating and will cause a burden on the system. It is necessary to keep refactoring your code in every sprint.
The scrum team should provide a proper document of the debts and try to talk to the stakeholders about them. The best way of controlling the testing debt is to continuously measure them, keeping track of them and aligning them properly.
Perform Acceptance Test first
You must be thinking unit testing, system testing, integration testing are important but why are we prioritizing acceptance testing?
It is because during the agile process we constantly keep performing all these tests. Testing let us know whether we should keep the test case, or refactor it. Acceptance test at the API level provides information about the behavior of the application. It also tells us how the public and the stakeholders will react to it.
Also, acceptance testing provides a clear picture to the stakeholder and the team whether to go live or not. We need to keep performing the tests until all the problems are not resolved.
Gain the trust of the non-technical stakeholders
Creating an automated test case that works perfectly fine is a huge deal. The stakeholders who are technically sound will understand this fact but the ones who are not aware of such terms will not pay any attention to such deals.
This is why it is important to trust their gain. You will have to enlighten them and will have to guide them over all the test cases and the testing debt. You’ll have to provide them with the knowledge of test debts and why they occur. At last they are one investing their money. They have the complete right to know where their money is being used. You will have to be transparent with them.
Why LambdaTest Selenium Test Automation?
Here are some of the reasons why you should consider LambdaTest Selenium Test Automation over any other tool :
Debug your code with the end-to-end test execution logs with hawkeye insight.
You do not need to worry about the language. LambdaTest supports all sorts of languages and frameworks so that you can perform testing using your favorite language.
You can integrate with the reporting and analytics feature to analyze your test report and share your reports with the stakeholders.
You can test your locally or privately hosted web pages or applications using the enterprise-ready LambdaTest Tunnel feature.
You can also get all the details of your tests in your CI/CD pipelines by integrating them with your choice of DevOps tools.
Test automation debts are no less a burden on the testing teams and the development teams. Saying that doesn’t mean that we cannot resolve them. With proper guidance and documentation, we can resolve all the issues.
So next time you perform test automation keep all the above points in mind. We hope you liked the article. Do not forget to share your feedback. Thank you.