How Test Failure Analysis Can Drive Smoother Releases
By Sourojit Das, Community Contributor - September 2, 2022
Of all the truths prevalent in the software testing world, one of the most hard-hitting is that tests sometimes fail. And when that happens, the usual knee-jerk reaction is to simply share the results with the development team and then get ready to rerun it once the build has been fixed.
While, on the one hand, this may sound reasonable as the development team usually bears the responsibility of fixing any defects and the test team exists to rubber stamp these results, there is much more than a competent QA team can do than merely record test results and alert the developers of an issue.
Performing test failure analysis can not only help QA engineers provide valuable insights into the nature of the defect, which helps in speedier build fixes but also can help the test team set forth a body of knowledge that helps make testing operations smoother.
Read More: How to Accelerate Product Release Velocity
This article seeks to explore in detail how test failure analysis can help accelerate release velocity and lead to smoother releases and better understand what test failure analysis is, what its key features are, and how it plays an important role in software testing.
What is Test Failure Analysis, and how does it work
Test Failure Analysis can be described as the process in which a failed test is dissected to understand what went wrong. The QA team inspects the failed test through the prism of Root Cause Analysis, Dashboards, Debugging toolkit reports, etc., and attempts to identify the exact reasons behind the failure so that it can be prevented from occurring again.
It is vital to understand that testing can sometimes be considered a bottleneck in a standard DevOps process. If not optimized for speed and accuracy, it can often be considered tedious and unnecessarily repetitive.
The best way to overcome this is, in fact, not by needlessly speeding up the process but by providing fast and accurate feedback so that these “delays” can be periods of reflection and growth rather than just wait time.
A good test report should ideally be able to provide clear insights into the test performance by sifting through voluminous results and distinguish between “noise” caused by superfluous bugs and “real defects.”
Test Failure Analysis solutions can help to avoid bottlenecks by focussing on these key features –
- Have a thorough and methodical Root Cause Analysis system in place that understands the real reasons behind what exactly went wrong in test execution.
- Provide clear and actionable insights that drill down, step-by-step, and eliminate any guesswork involved in fixing defects.
- It can filter out false negatives that the focus remains on real defects and not on issues caused by tools and suboptimal scripting.
- Provide detailed test artifacts that help debug, for instance, representing the root cause analysis using screenshots, videos, crash logs, etc., embedded in the report.
- Provide dashboards to view all the test activities in a single place and have a feature for high-level insight articulation like heatmaps to make it easier for QA leaders to gauge test performance.
- Be scalable enough for enterprise-level volumes of test management
Driving Smoother Releases Through Test Failure Analysis
Test failure analysis can help accelerate product release in the following ways:
1. Reduce the Turnaround Time for Bug Fixing by Bridging Communication Gaps
A major hindrance in the path of rapid product release is the lag in defect resolution arising out of suboptimal communication between developers and testers. Oftentimes a bug is identified by the latter team, which cannot be reproduced by the former.
The industry is rife with these “Urban Legends,” which are known apocryphally to exist but have prevented the guillotine due to not being reproducible at scale.
In such circumstances, it is important to have debugging tools that can support Test Failure Analysis and be actionable across different system configurations, and allow for effective defect identification, reporting, and subsequent defect resolution.
Read More: How to write an Effective Bug Report
Pro Tip: BrowserStack allows you to easily verify, debug, and fix different issues ranging from UI functionality and usability to performance and network consumption. It allows the embedding of the test, video, console, and network logs to facilitate smooth test failure analysis and allows for easy reporting through Slack, JIRA, etc., for defect tracking and resolution.
2. Provide Replicable Outcomes via Root Cause Analysis
Root Cause Analysis is a core feature of Test Failure Analysis. It is especially important in highly sensitive test methodologies lie Visual Testing, where the exact differentiation from the expected outcome must be understood in detail for the fix to take place.
After the tests are run, the Pull Request for the failed build can be opened, and the details for the failed Percy step can be checked as shown below:
The details option will highlight the changes in the failed build
The difference between the baseline and the snapshot in question is highlighted in RED as seen below.
Now, it becomes relatively straightforward for any stakeholder to understand exactly why the test has failed using the Github details data as well as the visual evidence and use the results of this test failure analysis piece to drive the changes required to rectify it.
3. Allows Senior Management to Make Quick Decisions using Comprehensive Dashboards
Tools like Browserstack Automate provide detailed dashboards that allow senior management to get a birds-eye view of the builds and the test sessions with clear status labeling on the outcome of each test for that build.
Build View of the Automate Dashboard
Filters are used to customize the data reports, which can be subsequently downloaded in a PDF format for easy access and sharing with stakeholders.
Labeled Test Sessions
Tests fail from time to time, but how the team reacts to these failures is pivotal in improving the overall optimization of the testing strategy. Simply sending failed test results back to the developers is passe. Modern agile teams need the QA Engineers to provide insightful test failure analysis using cutting-edge tools and techniques to help in the rapid identification and elimination of defects and accelerate overall product release velocity.