What is test automation orchestration?
While developing applications, software solutions and systems has gotten increasingly complex, the impact of a single software bug can still be disastrous for your company’s bottom line. Excellent software quality therefore must be a priority,
Since manual tests are no longer able to keep up, different automated testing and scripting tools (Selenium, HP UFT, TestComplete, Testing Anywhere) have started appearing on the market. These tools usually claim to possess the ability to improve your testing process and software quality, but the final results are sometimes a little disappointing because the tools are too specialized or require too much technical knowledge.
To address this problem, you’ll need a custom test automation strategy that’s comprehensive, rigorous and adapted to your situation. In other words, you’ll need test automation orchestration.
Orchestration vs Automation: What’s the difference?
While these two terms may seem interchangeable, “Orchestration” and “Automation” are two different concepts. “Automation” generally refers to a precise task or action (launch a web browser, press a button, input text in a text field, etc) that’s been automated using tools or test scripts. “Orchestration”, on the other hand, refers to several automated tasks that are scheduled in a precise order and can be executed one after the other. In other words, automation is all about individual tasks while orchestration is more interested in automating tests for a process as a whole.
If you’re still having problems understanding the difference between these two concepts, try picturing a symphony, which is composed of individual instruments (violins, tubas, trumpets, etc) the same way a software system is composed of different modules (database, network, servers, etc). To produce a harmonious melody, the development team must orchestrate automated tests for these modules so that all the different functionalities are tested properly and in depth. This orchestration can also eliminate manual interventions entirely, meaning you never have to worry about human errors affecting test results.
Even better, orchestration can generate a detailed report for every automated action, allowing programmers, project leaders and other team members to obtain detailed, clear and up to date information about the current state of an application (which tests were successful, which failed, etc). This is one of the greatest benefits of test automation orchestration: data visualization giving you access to all the information you need about the software quality of an application in one place, including a history, which prevents software quality from regressing over time.
Figure 1.1: History and overview of the software quality of an application
Figure 1.2: Chart comparing the percentage of tests that were successful vs the percentage of tests that failed
As a whole, orchestration coordinates a series of automated or pre-programmed actions and is compatible with almost all automated testing tools available on the market, regardless of the technological environment or programming language they use. Orchestration software can help structure how you use automated testing tools within a complete testing process. Structuring development this way will allow your team to react quickly and efficiently during the development cycle, ensuring optimal software quality. As soon as a problem arises, it can be detected and then fixed.
Since orchestration is interested in automating a process as a whole, it can also allow you to identify weaknesses in your development and testing methods. Moreover, test automation orchestration is flexible and can be customized according to your goals, situation or environment, allowing test plans to evolve over time. In the end, these gains will allow your organization to maximize their development cycles and obtain more business value at the same cost.
If your team has difficulty producing reliable test plans or reports in relation to software quality, test automation orchestration can help you review and optimize these processes. Test automation orchestration will also allow you to test more regularly, since automated tests can be performed as many times as needed.
Continuous development, meet continuous testing
A few years ago, many organizations faced a new challenge: Agile methods had sped up development, but testing was still slow and unreliable. As a result, teams would sometimes improvise in real time, repairing old functionalities while also developing new ones. Unfortunately, chaotic development cycles can have disastrous consequences for your organization, including greatly increasing development costs.
Today, test automation orchestration allows organizations to integrate powerful testing tools directly into their development cycles, which means applications can be tested faster and more regularly. These tools also make it possible to test at various stages of development, allowing teams to focus on software quality earlier in the development cycle.
Test automation orchestration: the future of quality assurance
While automated tests can be tremendously beneficial for your organization, test automation is not, by itself, a magic potion. Independent scripting tools will only get you so far. To get the most value out of test automation, you need to embrace test automation orchestration.
If you have any questions about orchestration, test automation or software quality, send us an email at email@example.com. We work regularly with companies and businesses of various sizes to review their development and testing methods or help them transition from a manual testing process to automated tests.