The processes in software development never stand still. Again and again, new approaches and trends emerge, which are supposed to bring more efficiency, higher quality or more frequent releases. Over time, two of these developments have left the “trend” status and have become an integral part of many projects. Both agile development and DevOps are firmly anchored in modern software development and stand for a new form of cooperation.
But what advantages do these new methods actually offer? In order to better understand this, we first break down the term DevOps a bit and then show why agile test management plays an important role in this context.
What is continuous development?
Continuous development is a modernised approach to creating software and updating it. It preaches small upgrades with short lead time over big patches that take a while to put together. This approach is commonly used even for software that doesn’t rely on frequent updates to stay relevant.
Continuous development relies on a quick iterative development cycle. It is usually implemented by the Agile methodology with 1–2 week sprints or even Kanban, where prioritised updates are made and shipped as soon as possible. Continuous development is part of DevOps, a methodology for streamlining and automating QA and delivery of updates with minimal disruption.
DevOps: Integration from Development to Sales
The term DevOps is very often used in modern software development. But what does it actually mean in principle? There is no clear answer to this question, because there are different interpretations and definitions. In general, however, it can be said that DevOps can be seen as an approach to process improvement that represents a change in corporate culture. Common processes and uniform tools should enable more effective and efficient collaboration. In the field of software development, this means close networking between planning, development, testing and sales.
From this definition it can be derived that quality assurance must also be an integral part of the development process from the very beginning. Appropriate test cases should be created as early as the requirements creation phase. Agile methods in project management also ensure that the development department is familiar with requirements management.
The Path to Continuous Develoment
Individual terms or processes that are subordinate to the topic of DevOps are Continuous -Integration, -Testing and -Delivery. These modern working methods in software development build on each other. Continuous Integration describes a process of continuously assembling components into an application. In testing, test cases are also continuously integrated into this process, which guarantees a high quality of the software already during the development process. This means that not only is an up-to-date status available at all times, but also an actually functioning status. Finally, continuous delivery describes the possibility of being able to provide the user with an up-to-date, defect-free version of the software at any time.
DevOps encompasses all these areas and represents the interaction between all departments involved in the development process.
Agile Test Management as a Part of the Process
As stated before, agile testing also plays a decisive role in the topic of DevOps. Both testers and developers are dependent on fast and direct feedback in order to be able to provide the software at any time without defects and in the latest version. A good implementation of the testing in the “DevOps pipeline” is particularly important for this. It must always be ensured that deployments have successfully passed all tests before delivery.
A prerequisite for this is that, in addition to good test coverage, importance is also attached to the speed of the tests. Automated tests in particular play an important role in this context. However, manual testing cannot be dispensed with entirely, because not all tests can be automated. It is therefore important to be able to combine different types of tests optimally and integrate them into the development process. A holistic test management tool that can orchestrate the various tests and summarize the results centrally is ideal for this purpose.
Challenges for quality assurance
In summary, it is clear that test management under DevOps must deliver results when they are needed. This is basically only possible if the tests are integrated into an agile development process and test management itself follows agile patterns.
In addition to the already mentioned integration into the DevOps pipeline and the orchestration of the different types of tests, the overview of the project, i.e. transparency, is ultimately also very important. This is only given if all data is managed centrally and an optimal evaluation, analysis and control of the project and QA can take place. Here, too, it is clear that a holistic tool is a decisive factor, especially if you’re taking the Agile for DevOps route.
Overall, it can be seen that the demands on the entire team increase with agility and methods such as DevOps, but that there are great advantages in return. While conservative methods such as the waterfall model rarely allowed new software releases, updates can now be delivered in a very short time. Agile practices for DevOps amplify these gains.