As a DevOps engineer, I’ve learned that successful software projects take more than just careful planning, hard work and knowledge of the latest programming languages.
Much like cooking a great meal – where you need to have all the best ingredients on hand – building great software involves assembling a collection of essential tools and processes. This can include test data, software libraries, and modules that can be reused for multiple purposes.
Yet even with all the right ingredients, you can still cook a bad meal. That’s why I’m urging companies that want to pursue digital transformation successfully to learn about test automation frameworks, which act like a recipe to pull it all together.
Automation frameworks are a set of rules, standards, compilers and other tools that allow DevOps teams to transcend the limitations of manual testing.
They come in many flavours – such as linear frameworks for testing small applications, or data-driven frameworks that can create test scripts for many different variables – but they all let you approach test code in a more systematic way.
I want to raise awareness and understanding of automation frameworks because business leaders need to realize the important role they can play in delivering the outcomes they want.
The clients I work with at Architech typically look for:
- Reduced Complexity: Automation frameworks offer a simple way to provision, configure, migrate, orchestrate, and deploy all the code and infrastructure associated with the application.
- Reliability: The right testing capabilities can eliminate errors and ensure consistent performance.
- Speed To Market: Getting software released quickly means an organization achieves its business objectives.
Let me dig in a little deeper and hopefully convince you that, if your DevOps team isn’t using test automation frameworks today, the time to start is now.
1. Reduced Complexity
Businesses can’t afford to have their tech teams work in a vacuum. They need to involve all the relevant stakeholders — which may include those from marketing, sales, operations and many other groups in a large organization — to ensure what’s developed will meet employee and/or customer expectations and bring value back to the business.
Of course, it has often been difficult to effectively coordinate all those stakeholders during each stage of the development cycle. Automation frameworks help here by allowing faster feedback cycles, more time for app review and testing that allows applications to go into production with confidence.
Remember that those of us working in DevOps teams are often dealing with environments that are becoming more complex by the day. As more organizations move to the cloud, for example, they need to be able to effectively manage and maintain multiple apps across multiple infrastructures. These could include public, private, or hybrid cloud deployments.
The bigger and more complex these systems become, the more organizations will run against the constraints and risks of manual processes. Automation frameworks ensure the work being done by DevOps teams smoothly integrates into the organization’s IT as it continues to evolve.
2. Improved Reliability
Automation frameworks can be applied to anything from the network and infrastructure to cloud provisioning and standard operating environments (SOEs). The one thing they all have in common is the potential for errors that have a negative impact on the business.
My colleague Aneeq has already written an article that highlights and details the ability of automation frameworks to transform testing. Rather than simply reiterate his argument that automation can spot errors far better than using manual approaches, I’ll add some data to reinforce his point.
In a 2021 study, more than half of developers, or 57%, said they were concerned about the reliability of the software being designed at their workplace. Their worries are understandable, considering how poor reliability can hurt the bottom line. In another research report from last year, 44% of firms said that hourly costs of downtime can range from $1 million to more than $5 million – and that’s not including legal fees, fines or penalties.
If the ability of automation frameworks to improve reliability means avoiding some of those costs, isn’t it worth it?
3. Speed to Market
Software development initiatives in many organizations were once spread out over several years, with milestones that included moving applications and infrastructure to the cloud or creating a mobile app to enhance the customer experience.
Digital transformation has been transforming the face of software development with more modern approaches for some time. With the outbreak of COVID-19, however, the pace of transformation has dramatically accelerated as companies race to keep up with their customers’ shift from in-person experiences to multiple digital channels.
This has created a huge challenge within IT and application development groups, particularly where manual frameworks have been the norm:
- Developers waste time going back to fix a single error.
- More testing is required because the risk of error is higher.
- IT can’t move at the pace the business demands, with projects that might span four to six months in some cases.
While organizations that have used tools such as Github Actions to complete application projects in half the time, I’ve seen first-hand how Architech’s use of automation frameworks has increased the speed even further.
Automation frameworks have made it possible to support Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Deployment (CD), which allow for more rapid build and test cycles.
With most companies now attempting to differentiate themselves based on the digital experiences they offer, time to market is at a premium. Automation frameworks can make the difference between positioning yourself as an innovative market leader and a company struggling to play catch-up with your competitors.
An Important Extra Benefit: Boost Team Motivation And Morale
We are living in the midst of what’s being called the 'Great Resignation'. Perhaps as a result of the stress and upheaval caused by the pandemic, people are increasingly leaving their roles and, in some cases, switching careers entirely.
This means organizations are putting a greater emphasis on the quality of the employee experience they offer than ever before. Of course, DevOps and IT staff are often some of the most difficult to hire, which makes retention even more important.
Using automation frameworks not only eases the work devs would normally have to do manually. It also frees up their time to focus on the areas that challenge them. Take it from me – we like tackling creative challenges! We also like having more time to collaborate with users and other parts of the business.
Automation frameworks could almost be seen as proof that an organization truly understands and appreciates the unique value their DevOps and IT talent bring to the business. No matter what changes are in store for 2022 and beyond, there’s no question that staying at the forefront of digital transformation will be a top priority.
Businesses not only need to make sure their tech talent doesn’t quit, but that they are as engaged as possible and eager to bring their best selves to the work they do.
Even if you achieve buy-in for using test automation frameworks, there could be questions and concerns about how to use them successfully. Fortunately, this isn’t something businesses have to do on their own. It’s where people like me and my team at Architech come in!
By working with the right trusted partner, automation frameworks can be quickly developed according to your application architecture and build a foundation for project success.
Look for a partner with a proven track record. Ensure that they have put automation frameworks in place for many of their clients and that they can do the same for you. Contact us to learn how you can get started today.