Ramendeep Singh, the Head of Business Assurance at Infogain, unpacks his thoughts on the benefits of test automation, now and in the future.
The following interview was published in Analytics India Magazine on March 9th, 2021. Follow this link to view the original article.
In the digital age, applications are the primary mode of transactions for most products and services. Brand differentiation lies in the ability to provide a seamless, omnichannel customer service experience. But certain processes, including writing tests, devising test parameters and creating reusable components, are susceptible to human errors that could be easily avoided with test automation.
Test coverage can be challenging due to constant UI changes, impending automation, problems with test data and environment availability, and lack of clearly defined requirements, preventing testers from designing good test scenarios. An intelligent test automation tool is needed to keep up with the pace of fast development cycles.
Infogain enables predictive analytics-driven advanced automated testing. It integrates intelligent automation using machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) in the end-to-end testing value chain to help enterprises achieve speed, efficiency and accuracy. Analytics India Magazine spoke to Ramendeep Singh, the Head of Business Assurance at Infogain, to understand his views and thoughts on the benefits of test automation, now and in the future.
“AI in software testing (AIST) uses reasoning and a problem to make testing smarter. AIST resolves the limitations of manual testing, increasing overall test coverage and performing visual testing leading to time and cost optimisation,” Singh said.
AIST lies at the intersection of three areas — AI-driven testing, i.e. developing AI tools to test software; devising a method to test AI systems; and designing software equipped self-testing systems.
“AI makes the testing automation proactive rather than reactive, deflects predictions, reduces run-time regression loads, assesses area path risk, rates risk of test cases, and auto-generates smart scripts,” added Singh.
AIM: Can you state a few benefits of using test automation? Also, how does Infogain’s PAQman fit in all these?
Ramendeep Singh: Seven primary benefits of using test automation include — faster feedback cycles, saving time, reduced business expenses, increased overall test coverage; faster time to market; gaining better insights, and improved accuracy.
Considering test automation helps you detect problems/bugs early on during the development phase, it, in turn, speeds up the feedback cycles, leading to the teams spending less time validating newly developed features. Alongside, in test automation, fewer resources are used for manual testing, which can save a lot of money for the companies, and automation enables them to spend time writing new tests and adding them to their automated test suite.
Test automation further reduces the feedback and testing cycle, allowing companies to bring their products to the market faster. With automation, it easily provides better insights, memory contents, data tables, file contents, and other internal program states. Additionally, automated tests can execute tests with 100% accuracy as they produce the same result every time businesses run them.
PAQman is Infogain’s next-generation test automation framework designed to power continuous quality engines with two modules — PAQman Automation module and PAQman Defect Prediction Module. PAQman provides seamless integration through function libraries built on open-source platforms and a wide range of DevSecOps tools. Along with that, PAQman provides machine learning-enabled predictive analytics for defect prediction and comes with a comprehensive digital console with a customisable dashboard to execute, monitor and measure.
With PAQman, engineers can leverage frameworks like SAP S/4HANA, Microsoft Dynamics, Salesforce, ServiceNow and others. It also adapts to different data environments, automation frameworks and operational objectives.
AIM: How are the benefits of test automation in retail different from other sectors?
Ramendeep Singh: The retail sector is evolving at breakneck speed, with a slew of digital transformation programs across eCommerce, social and mobile transformations, data analytics for insights into user behaviour, and various backend processes. Retailers innovate rapidly to deploy accurate, working digital solutions and repeated software tests are imperative during development cycles to ensure quality.
Automated tests can be run repeatedly at no additional cost faster than manual tests. This ensures fewer mistakes, a better customer experience and valuable brand protection alongside potentially increased sales, enabling retailers to achieve a competitive advantage.
It can also dive into the application and explore memory and file contents and data to determine if the product behaves as designed. It can easily execute thousands of complex test cases during every test run providing coverage that is impossible with manual testing.
A digitally mature retail ecosystem has always called for integration between various components on the backend. Automated testing helps conceive and validate the multifarious workflow routing, isolate key issues, and provide actionable inputs to the development team. Alongside, digital transformation has brought security and data integrity into sharp focus. Retailers need to create a thorough security testing framework that increases their security checks in the design phases and include tools to increase the level of automation for dynamic application security testing.
AIM: What’s multi-dimensional test automation?
Ramendeep Singh: Multi-dimensional Testing (MDT) includes several variables, provides an efficient, systematic approach for detecting a product’s hardware and software incompatibilities. It reduces both product development times and test escapes. Before purchasing an application software package, potential customers can apply MDT to determine if the package will be compatible with their work environment. With this hierarchical testing methodology, problems can be detected and resolved early in the overall development cycle.
MDT can also create test designs for any number of factors and levels considerations or assess the test-coverage effectiveness of current test-case plans.
AIM: How do you ensure continuous testing in businesses? What role does DevSecOps play in it?
Ramendeep Singh: Continuous testing ensures the product is evaluated early and throughout the entire continuous delivery process. It uses automated tests to ensure teams receive immediate feedback to quickly mitigate risks throughout the software development lifecycle.
Organisational buy-in on the value of testing is critical to adopt a continuous testing environment. As a test automation strategy is the backbone of the final product, it should be strong and flexible to bear the impact of any change and every variable of the testing process. Some of the critical factors that help optimise the continuous delivery testing strategy are — a thorough test automation plan, initial trial and testing, choosing the best automation tool, measuring test automation ROI, tracking and monitoring, and outsourcing.
Continuous testing is an emerging DevSecOps trend that organisations are adopting to win at the continuous delivery game. To succeed at it, organisations must embrace all aspects of the DevOps approach, including investing in all the teams involved, including DevOps, developers, and the testing teams. Additionally, tools and automation need to be adopted in all CI/CD pipelines (monitoring and automation). Finally, everyone in the development organisation needs to adopt new processes to ensure the success of the continuous testing process.
AIM: What are the must-have skills for an automation tester?
Ramendeep Singh: Analytical thinking is the most significant skill. An automation tester should understand analytics and the logical application of concepts. They should identify areas that can or cannot be automated and define a detailed automation test strategy. An automation tester should also understand programming languages and coding skills to design the test scripts. The testing team should ensure that the script’s code conforms to designated quality standards and has an easy design that everyone can understand.
Next comes good functional testing skills. An automation tester should have sound knowledge and experience of functional testing performed manually. If the automation test team has good exposure to the functionality, they can achieve good test coverage and better test accuracy. Possessing good knowledge of automated testing tools is also critical. Automation testers should also have an ample understanding of the automated testing tools present in the market that eventually help optimise the overall testing process. Depending on the tool’s selection, the tester should be able to classify whether certain test cases can be automated or not.
AIM: Could you explain how COVID-19 impacted the global test automation software market with emphasis on India?
Ramendeep Singh: Test automation solutions can help organisations successfully drive value in these challenging times, giving early adopters an edge over late adopters. According to Technavio, the automated software quality market is poised to grow by $717.86 million during 2020-2024, at a CAGR of about 5%. Due to the work from home scenario, there is a need to digitalise organisations that are a major driver for adopting intelligent automation processes as it improves operational efficiency and time management.
COVID-19 has exposed disparities in the outdated banking system and has presented an opportunity for financial institutions to adopt AI to streamline their business processes. Further, QA and test automation have become crucial for digital transformation to deliver effectively. This drives many IT organisations to demand high-quality software testing solutions. Additionally, digital development for productivity has created a demand for app creation, where testing quality software is even more essential.
The growing concern of infection in India, Iran, and China has led organisations to operate with limited staff. Many vendors are using this opportunity to increase the adoption of the AI process. The Asia Pacific is estimated to become the most lucrative market for automation testing, driven by businesses’ increasing investments in mobile development and agile methodology. APAC intelligent process automation market is set to record the highest growth rate during the forecast period.