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Continuos Feedback in a Software Delivery Pipeline_What you need to Know

Software development pipelines have been “shifting left” to accelerate the delivery of new products and services to end-users. Agile, DevOps-principled teams are investing in CI/CD to shorten the time between development stages. In particular, they are adopting “shift left” testing by initiating automated tests earlier in the process.

With tests to filter every batch of code from its first pull request, CI/CD pushes code faster to its full execution. Automated tests remove the scope for human error while shortening timelines by eliminating limitations.

The key word here is “continuous”. For code to successfully pass through the pipeline, it must pass numerous automated tests at every stage of the funnel, not just QA. As is well known by now, this constitutes continuous testing.

However, to work, continuous testing requires fast and frequent feedback loops – continuous feedback – so that devs and testers have tangible results to guide their efforts.

Feedback Loops

Feedback loops offer consistent results for code & product efficacy at each SDLC stage. Devs get quickly and continuously informed if their efforts are paying off. With detailed feedback, teams can identify errors, incorporate remedies and gain insights for further refinement. The idea is to insert feedback loops at every stage of the SDLC. The team gathers detailed feedback on the software performance with each test, from unit testing to post-production. Leveraging this data, the team optimizes subsequent coding and testing protocols for better results.

How exactly do we achieve Continuous Feedback?

Continuous Feedback strengthens DevOps environments by detecting and resolving errors early in the SDLC. The CI/CD pipeline must include a robust continuous testing mechanism to extract feedback.

At every stage, feedback must come from functional experts, QA analysts, testers, and other stakeholders to ensure faster releases of quality software.

For example, once a dev pushes their code to the project repo, it should go through static code analysis, unit tests, integration tests, API tests, system tests, performance tests, security tests, compatibility tests and more, depending on the final use-case. These tests exist at every phase of the CI/CD tunnel and go beyond run-of-the-mill acceptance tests.

Is the feedback actionable?

It is common enough for continuous tests in a CI/CD pipeline to set up automated tests with simple Passed/Failed results. It makes sense from a continuous delivery standpoint because its main focus is to minimize time spent on tests to validate software enough for it to move on to the next stage. Naturally, this doesn’t allow testers the time required to examine automated test results.

However, if continuous feedback is to help devs improve code quality as well as the quality of project requirements and the actual delivery processes, a Yes/No result is wildly inadequate. Dev teams actually need data to fix failures and ensure that similar failures do not occur in the future.

Ideally, continuous feedback should come with enough information and recommendations to help resolve issues and speed up the product journey through the pipeline. If a test fails, devs should also get to know at which precise step the test failed and why. The ideal scenario also gives them video or text logs that capture the failure and suggest actionable steps, backed with real-time data.

Benefits of actionable Continuous Feedback

Imagine that, instead of getting Passed/Failed results as part of CI/CD implementation, you also receive data about the business risk related to specific test failure. Every failure gets reported with a set of possible actions to help understand and debug the error in question.

Beyond a simple Yes/No result, this form of bug detection and reporting helps devs/testers analyze build status and quickly make informed release decisions. The savings on time and effort required just to figure out the bug and then run solutions until you fix it are significant.

Whatever platform you choose to implement continuous tests should be equipped to perform all necessary checks automatically and provide detailed results to refine the end-to-end development channels.

Continuous Feedback via Team Collaboration

As development philosophies, Agile and DevOps emphasize that every stakeholder’s opinion counts. For software to provide the highest possible value, it must be validated by teams providing technical, business and even aesthetic perspectives.

Effective team communication is needed to generate products that meet users’ demands on multiple levels. Therefore, test results must be communicated quickly to tech and non-tech teams. Additionally, tests should be reported in formats that allow anyone, even without a programming background, to study, analyze, and understand what went wrong.

Unless the feedback is accessible and understandable by every relevant team, you risk missing out on valuable information required to improve features and product appeal.

Again, the platform you choose for your continuous testing purposes should be able to create reports that make sense to cross-functional teams, even across different locations.

Enter Testsigma

Testsigma is built to implement the exact processes described above. It provides continuous feedback and makes it accessible to team members across functions.

  • To start with, Testsigma provides a unified platform to achieve automated continuous testing. However, it is built intentionally to empower everyone, not just trained testers, to run robust automated tests. Testsigma allows you to write tests, even complex ones, using simple English and leveraging an intuitive UI built for that exact purpose. No knowledge of programming languages is required to create and execute tests.
  • To enable continuous feedback, Testsigma’s inbuilt mechanisms provide instant notifications and corresponding AI-based suggestions to remedy every failure/bug/anomaly. The AI also highlights possible areas of failure and others that may risk being affected due to changes in the codebase. Teams can gather continuous actionable feedback and use the same to help developers fix issues, prioritize tasks and plan out future efforts.
  • As a strong advocate of Shift Left Testing, Testsigma facilitates testing at early stages, even before an app may be fully developed. It allows tests to be inserted and solidified at every stage in the development lifecycle.
  • Testsigma redefines test reporting. Its Analytics dashboard allows users to generate custom reports for stakeholders at different levels within a team or organization. In other words, not everyone (PMs, business leaders) has to learn and scour through lines of code or technical jargon to figure out test results and their implications.
  • Testsigma integrates with collaboration tools like Slack to simplify the process of monitoring test updates and tracking and sharing test progress.

As a unified, cloud-based test automation tool that seeks to be consistently future-ready, Testsigma strives to keep pace with evolving technology and best practices in the software testing ecosystem. Its ability to support continuous testing and feedback throughout the development matrix manifests this instinct.

What’s more, using Testsigma would allow you to unify your fragmented toolchain for testing. It provides a single platform to cover all automated test cases – Web apps, iOS apps, Android apps, APIs – across all stages – planning, development, execution, reporting, and configuration.

Bear in mind that you can choose to run tests across 800 browsers on desktop, iOS, and Android devices via an integrated Test lab on the cloud. Consequently, test results will be 100% accurate and reflect software performance in the real world. It further empowers the advantages you can extract from your continuous feedback implementation, supercharging the test quality, efficacy, and ROI.