Understanding TestOps Best Practices. Introducing a better way to control software quality

Modern IT companies strive to optimize all processes and make them simpler. They focus on the speed of bringing the product to market and keeping appropriate quality. On this wave, a new approach to testing products is gaining popularity, called TestOps. What is this methodology, and why is it beneficial to use it?

 

TestOps as DevOps for Testers

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TestOps (QAOps) is considered the next stage in a DevOps culture. To understand the essence of the first term, it is necessary to understand the second. The DevOps approach is centered on the development team. However, everything is not so simple: to simplify and speed up the processes, the development and QA teams must interact with each other. What for?

To achieve the perfect quality of the product! After all, its success in the market depends on it. Ongoing collaboration between teams ensures optimal delivery quality and support for the product when it is already in use by the customer. It is also critical to maintain consistency and continuity of integration (CI) and delivery (CD).

The technique appeared as another step towards optimizing the interaction of specialists in small teams. The main idea is to make developers even stronger using knowledge of managing the product environment. In fact, a DevOps master is someone who is familiar with all the nuances of SDLC, testing tools, security risks as well as pre- and post-release support features.

This approach proved to be simple and reliable, and it became an incentive for new branches such as QAOps. Here QA plays the role of a full-fledged CI/CD participant and is closely related to the development and other operations. QAOps significantly helps in this cooperation: it ensures the stability of the delivery of software solutions, enhances security, and increases speed. In other words, it is responsible for the critical moments of continuous testing (CI, CD) and establishes connections between Dev, Ops, and QA teams.

TestOps allows you to configure processes in the following areas:

  • Planning. Selection of priority tasks to be solved, determination of tests and methods, analysis of possible risks. Creation of a plan with the joint efforts of SD specialists by testers, documenting the decisions made.
  • Control. Establishing control over processes and tracking the progress of tasks. The goal is to keep monitoring changes and new requirements for the tested project, standardization of essential aspects.
  • Management. Organization of all tests, methods, tools, and teams according to an established strategy. Prioritizing tests and interacting with executors, agreeing on naming and labeling.
  • Insights. Working with information related to testing and coming from teams to monitor the status of the project and its readiness for release, analysis of the productivity of performers.

So, TestOps allows you to involve several teams in working on a product, improve awareness of methods and DevOps testing tools, establish an exchange of reports and feedback, and ensure transparency of results. As a result, the time spent on completing tasks is reduced, and the project is several steps closer to the launch. Different practices are used to achieve the goal. They depend on which direction TestOps is “shifted”.

 

Shift-Left and Shift-Right Testing Practices

Speaking of continuous testing, we must mention the shift-left concept. It has been a popular tendency for quite a long time, but recently unexpected trends towards shift-right have arisen. How are the approaches different? It’s simple: the first involves testing the product at the beginning and during the entire SDLC, and the second in the end, i.e., in a production environment. Let’s take a closer look at these TestOps concepts.

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Features of left and right shifts in testing:
1. Shift-left

Testing begins in the early stages of the SDLC. Its purpose is to prevent defects in product performance without waiting for the release to the market. For developers, it brings significant benefits since they can be sure that the product meets the original requirements, and there will be no serious errors and failures in the future.

This approach is often used in Agile and depends on constant changes made to the project as it develops, i.e., in each sprint. Early tests and regular checks along the way of the SDLC allow you to quickly identify design and business concept flaws and correct bugs timely.

Key Practices:

  • Early Reliability Tests. The performance is checked at the initial stage, considering the expected load. The ability of the architecture to scale is determined, performance is tested, and stability under atypical conditions is studied.
  • Configuration control. The IaC environment and the deployment configurations are tested, and a test deployment is performed and rolled back to prevent further errors.
  • Monitoring. The state of systems is monitored at the initial stages, and performance is checked in the context of synthetic metrics before moving on to deployment in production environments.
  • AIOps. The collection and processing of test results are carried out, the first conclusions are made about the quality of the product, and risks are predicted. It requires advanced AI techniques and tools.
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As you can see, this approach allows completing tasks that are usually performed in later stages. It also applies to checking the system’s stability, monitoring, and quality analysis. It prevents small problems from turning into serious ones and slowing down the project’s development.

This concept implies design thinking. It means that specialists focus on the user’s expectations. It makes it easier to find defects in the design and guarantees their timely elimination.

 
2. Shift-right

The previous approach was focused on meeting quality criteria and business requirements. Everything is different here: shift-right is aimed at improving the performance of the system in real conditions. It implies additional checks before and after the release. By running tests in a production environment, technicians can consider the actual user experience.

So they can manage unexpected degradation and crash events and prevent problems. While the shift-left is beneficial for agile testing, it opens up fewer opportunities for QA from an end-user point of view. The shift-right practice helps to get feedback from real customers and take steps to improve the reliability and convenience of the system.

In addition, TestOps professionals who follow this practice have the chance to gain full access to the system. What does it mean? Testers can work harder and complete tasks on time, as they are well placed to do so. In addition, various scenarios are combined with this approach, including those that cannot be implemented in test environments.

Key Practices:

  • Chaos Engineering. The system is purposely hacked over increased loads to identify weaknesses, risk areas, and probable failures. Based on the results obtained, it is possible to improve the fault tolerance.
  • A/B tests. Several versions of the product are studied with the involvement of real users who choose the best option.
  • Canary release. The new code is tested in production with the involvement of a small random circle of users. It reduces risks when launching a new version of the product.
  • Active monitoring. The path that the user is expected to follow in the program is created and tracked. It gives an insight into all the disruptions that real users might encounter.
  • CX tests and analysis. Data related to customer experience (problems of use, requirements for functionality) is collected and analyzed.
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Those who prefer the first concept aim to immediately get the right results to save energy and resources and quickly bring the product to market. In the second case, all possible steps are taken to learn more about customer preferences and implement various scenarios, making the system as convenient as possible in real conditions.

So, TestOps is not only another opportunity to reduce time and money costs. It is a way to expand the creative potential of the team, increase the team spirit, ensure the stable productivity of the performers, and open up new perspectives for the project at any of its stages. A variety of DevOps testing tools, methods, approaches, and practices allows experts to cover different areas of work and behavioral scenarios, predict results, and improve understanding of user experience.

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