In the ever-evolving world of technology, testers face many tough testing challenges in diverse and multifaceted technological environments.
Let’s admit – creating reliable automation can be frustrating.
These complexities are even more pronounced if you work in an enterprise setting where many systems and technologies converge to create a landscape that is as promising as it is challenging.
That’s why I want to share some critical insights for five Must-Know Enterprise Testing Hacks to help you test mission-critical applications based on a recent conversation with Josh Owen and Andy Knight of Cycle Labs.
Let’s get to it!
Oh, wait, before we get to the first one, you might be asking, what is enterprise application testing?
What is enterprise application testing?
Businesses are swiftly advancing their strategies to enhance efficiency and competitiveness. This progression involves the revitalization of existing applications and the integration of innovative technologies.
So, you often end up with a Frankenstein mix of legacy applications and the latest technology cobbled together.
These applications are usually in complicated business domains like Insurance, Financial, Healthcare, and Supply Chain, which tend to be mission-critical.
How do you regression test an enterprise piece of software that may have, as part of its tech stack, mainframes, ERP applications, browser, and mobile all involved in serving up info to your application's user?
It would be nice to ignore them, but…
Why is enterprise application testing important?
These applications are the lifeblood of enterprises, serving as the bridge connecting the organization to its clients and vendors, and fostering employee synergy. They are integral in streamlining operations and enhancing internal and external collaborations.
The insights from my enlightening conversation with Josh Owen and Andy Knight of Cycle Labs underscore the paramount importance of rigorous testing of these applications.
So, read on to discover some hacks that can help your testing teams address these enterprise systems.
1. Embrace Behavior-Driven Development (BDD)
Okay, probably not the smartest way to start since I know this will turn off or even enrage about 50% of the testers who are reading this. 😊
But hear me out.
BDD, when done right, is all about communication.
And what development project can be harmed by better understanding your end users' requirements and needs?
Yes, BDD can be abused and used just as an automation framework, which in most cases turns out to be a disaster.
That’s not what I’m talking about here.
Instead, Behavior-Driven Development (BDD) should be a beacon of clarity, collaboration, and efficiency.
Based on test-driven development principles, BDD transcends traditional boundaries, fostering a unified language and approach that bridges the gap between developers, testers, and business stakeholders.
In our podcast interview, Andy Knight, renowned as The Automation Panda, highlighted the pivotal role of having a unified language in BDD to test complicated business workflows.
This joint team language, often articulated through Gherkin language, facilitates clear, concise, and comprehensible communication. It transforms complex technical jargon and intricate codes into readable, understandable, and verifiable specifications.
Every stakeholder, irrespective of their technical prowess, can contribute, validate, uncover business risks, and align on the expected behaviors of the enterprise application.
Josh explained that the appeal of Behavior-Driven Development (BDD) for Cycle Labs lies in its alignment with their approach to building software solutions from scratch. They are deeply involved in validating specific behaviors essential for effectively deploying these systems. BDD seamlessly integrates into its process, offering a natural and intuitive methodology for understanding and validating the desired behaviors and processes supported by the software.
Unlike traditional unit testing or granular programmatic testing, BDD’s natural language approach is particularly well-suited to their context and work, enhancing their efficiency and accuracy in ensuring the software delivers the expected outcomes.
Remember, BDD is not a testing methodology but a culture that orbits around value-driven behaviors.
It instigates teams to delve deep into the core functionalities and behaviors quintessential to delivering unparalleled user experiences and business outcomes.
By focusing on behaviors, BDD ensures that testing is not just about code verification but about validating that the application aligns with business objectives and user expectations.
This leads us to the second enterprise testing hack.
2. Ensure Comprehensive Communication
Communication is a tool and a linchpin that holds the entire testing ecosystem together.
Josh amplified this point, highlighting the pivotal role of clear, concise, and consistent communication in orchestrating successful testing outcomes.
The risk of miscommunication and assumptions looms large in a dynamic environment where multiple stakeholders converge with unique perspectives and expertise.
Josh also stressed that these are not mere inconveniences, but significant impediments that can precipitate quality issues, delayed deliveries, and escalated costs. Every assumption, every overlooked detail, can morph into a potential vulnerability, undermining the integrity and reliability of the enterprise application.
Ensuring comprehensive communication is not an option but a necessity.
It’s the catalyst that transforms ambiguous expectations and assumptions into clear, concise, and actionable insights, driving the development and validation of functional enterprise applications that embody quality, reliability, and excellence.
This also helps create a whole team feedback loop that drives better discussions into your continuous testing development process.
It's funny how Sometimes the biggest technological hacks are not technical – they can also be soft skills, like communication.
Besides communication, another hack is to ensure you focus on the whole customer journey with your testing.
3. Testing End-to-End
Way too often, I hear from testers that their company only focuses on web automation, effectively missing out on testing the true end-to-end workflow that their users experience.
Enterprise applications are not monolithic entities but dynamic ecosystems encapsulating diverse technologies and platforms. Each technology and platform brings unique strengths, capabilities, and complexities.
Josh underscores that testing cannot be siloed or compartmentalized in this diverse landscape.
It must be integrative, comprehensive, and holistic, capable of seamlessly navigating technological boundaries to validate complex, integrated behaviors.
One example of this can be seen in Cycle Labs’ approach.
Cycle Labs has pioneered an approach to integration testing that is innovative and effective.
Tests are not confined to individual components or modules but are instead empowered to jump across various technologies, validating the application in scenarios and environments that mirror real-world conditions.
It’s a departure from traditional testing paradigms.
This evolution ensures that tests are not just technical exercises but are validations of the application’s performance, reliability, and functionality in real operational conditions.
They’ve also seen how end-to-end integration testing unearths issues that isolated testing environments often conceal.
This is achieved by testing components and modules together rather than in isolation.
When components are tested in isolation, they may perform and function optimally. However, unforeseen problems, conflicts, and vulnerabilities may emerge when those components are integrated into the larger application ecosystem. End-to-end integration testing illuminates these hidden issues, bringing them to the forefront before they are deployed in real-world scenarios.
I’ve seen this increasingly more often, as many companies I speak with are moving towards a Cloud-native development approach that takes control away from in-house, centralized servers and services.
This doesn’t invalidate unit and component style tests; they are critical, but these methods should not be the only testing that is done.
Including end-to-end testing will close the testing gap many teams have.
Without domain knowledge, you can have a lot of tests, not just end-to-end tests that don't do anything useful.
This brings us to our fourth hack.
4. Focus on Domain Knowledge
Domain knowledge is essential for software testing because it allows testers to understand the complex systems they are testing.
This is especially important in enterprise supply chain software, with many moving parts and nuances.
For instance, Josh relayed a story about how he realized the importance of domain knowledge after working on several enterprise supply chain software projects. He and his team would spend months, even years, developing and implementing the software, but when it went live, there were always problems.
He realized that these problems were often rooted in miscommunication and a need for more understanding of the nuances of the domain. If he and his team had better understood the domain, they could have uncovered the issues earlier in the project and prevented them from becoming bugs.
Domain knowledge is vital for software testing because it allows testers to:
- Identify and test for edge cases
- Understand the business logic of the system
- Write better test cases
- Communicate more effectively with stakeholders
And in the crazy artificial intelligence (AI) world we’re living in, it’s more important now than ever for testers to invest in developing their domain knowledge.
The more you know about the domain you are testing, the better equipped you will be to find and fix bugs and extend your career for the long term.
Finally, the last hack focuses on more than just functional testing.
5. Include Non-functional Testing in your Test Runs
I’ve found this to be even more true with enterprise application testing, and that nonfunctional testing activities like security and performance are not just a metric but a mandate.
Luckily, I’ve been seeing more tooling companies leveraging their function tests also to be used for security and performance.
Cycle Labs is no exception.
Josh amplified this sentiment, underscoring the pivotal role of non-functional testing, like performance testing, in ensuring that enterprise applications are operational but are optimized, robust, and reliable.
In the dynamic world of enterprise applications, change is not an exception but a rule. Applications evolve, enhanced with new features, optimizations, and updates.
Josh said he’s repeatedly seen that even small changes to an enterprise application can profoundly impact performance.
Regression and performance testing become imperatives, ensuring that every change and enhancement is validated for its impact on performance. It ensures that evolution does not compromise performance but amplifies it.
So, testing techniques like security, accessibility, and performance testing are strategically imperative in enterprise applications.
It’s the focus that transforms applications from operational tools to strategic assets optimized to deliver unmatched performance, exceptional user experiences, and unparalleled business value in the complex, competitive, and challenging business environments they are destined for.
I highly recommend including non-functional testing as part of your enterprise testing strategy if you don't already.
Mission Critical Testing Next Steps
As you have seen, the conversation with Josh Owen and Andy Knight of Cycle Labs is not just an insight but a lighthouse, guiding the ships of enterprise testers through the tumultuous waters of complexities towards the serene shores of efficiency, reliability, and excellence.
Ensure you incorporate all five hacks in your enterprise testing projects to achieve automation awesomeness.
Be sure to check out Cycle Labs to learn more about their approach to successfully testing mission-critical software.