Key takeaways from World Quality Report 2019 about intelligent automation

World Quality Report 2019 analyzes global software testing and quality engineering trends. It collects insights from senior technology leaders from 32 countries across 10 industries. This blog summarizes the report’s chapter Intelligent automation and focuses on the future trends in test automation and robotic process automation (RPA).

Automation trends and challenges

The use of automation continues its growth, specifically in regression automation, model-based testing (MBT) and RPA. One of the biggest challenges organizations are facing is the volatile nature of business requirements. Coping with a high volume of frequently changing business requirements proves to be a challenge for organizations. The report sees the adoption of DevOps methods as a way to remedy the situation.

The other challenges include test data and test environments. Organizations are still asking, how to create test data and how to manage their test environments. According to the report, the senior tech leaders see the used tools and technologies as inadequate to deal with the ever-changing business requirements. 30% of them feel like there are too many different automation tools and frameworks. Many of these tools have poor interoperability and their poor compatibility may introduce new manual processes into the development pipeline.

The senior tech leaders predict that the development resources of 2020 are invested in the following technologies: test environment virtualization, MBT and RPA. They see that the biggest benefit of automation is better visibility and control into the testing process (63%), better test case reuse (57%) and better defect detection (56%). They estimate that their automation capabilities are on a good level. The problem is to match the correct automation expert with the correct team. Machine learning (ML) capabilities were considered to be of relatively low interest, which surprised the writers of the report, who believe ML capabilities become one of the most important capabilities for automation.

Don’t automate without intelligence

Test automation has been a part of software development for almost 20 years. Still, in 2019, some of the improvements promised by test automation have not been realized. The report writes that the reason for this has been the straightforward automatization of manual steps, without intelligence.

Automation without intelligence can’t react to changes in code, can’t generate resources dynamically and can’t interpret or understand test results. This has led to a large amount of maintenance work. This additional work has eaten some of the potential gains of automation. The report believes that automation should be viewed as a platform, not just as a set of automation capabilities. When all the tools interact with each other in the same intelligent and connected space, in all the parts of the software development pipeline, all the promised benefits can be fully achieved.

Recommendations for smarter automation

The report gives five recommendations for designing more intelligent automation frameworks:

  1. Intelligent automation is intuitive: it can react to changes in code.
  2. Intelligent automation is dynamic: it can change its execution dynamically.
  3. Intelligent automation can create its own test environment: the environment can be created from a configuration file
  4. Intelligent automation can prioritize: Detects which test cases are more important for certain test runs.
  5. Intelligent automation can create its own test data: data can be created either by virtualization, by extrapolation or by creating it synthetically.

References: World Quality Report 2019, Sogeti

Tuukka Virtanen

About

Test automation consultant with technical experience in test automation and quality assurance. TMap Next certified Test Engineer with knowledge in test planning and execution and test design techniques. Master of Science in Information Management. Indie game development as a side project. Creative and visual thinker. The latest assignment included web and mobile game test automation with Appium and Robot Framework in an Agile customer project and regression test automation for websites.

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