How Test Failure Analysis can Drive Smoother Releases?
By Sourojit Das, Community Contributor - September 6, 2023
Of all the truths prevalent in the software testing world, one of the most hard-hitting is that tests sometimes fail. When that happens, the usual knee-jerk reaction is to 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 help QA engineers provide valuable insights into the nature of the defect, which allows in speedier build fixes but also can help the test team set forth a body of knowledge that helps make testing operations smoother.
This article explores in detail how test failure analysis can help accelerate release velocity, lead to smoother releases, and better understand what test failure analysis is, its key features, and how it plays a vital role in software testing.
- What is Test Failure Analysis, and how does it work?
- Driving Smoother Releases Through Test Failure Analysis
- 1. Reduce the Turnaround Time for Bug Fixing by Bridging Communication Gaps
- 2. Provide Replicable Outcomes via Root Cause Analysis
- 3. Allows Senior Management to Make Quick Decisions using Comprehensive Dashboards
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.. It attempts to identify the exact reasons behind the failure so that it can be prevented from occurring again.
Understanding that testing can sometimes be considered a bottleneck in a standard DevOps process is vital. It can often be regarded as tedious and unnecessarily repetitive if not optimized for speed and accuracy.
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 wait time.
A good test report should ideally provide clear insights into the test performance by sifting through voluminous results and distinguishing between “noise” caused by excessive bugs and “real defects.”
Test Failure Analysis solutions can help to avoid bottlenecks by focusing on these key features –
- Have a thorough and systematic Root Cause Analysis system that understands the real reasons behind what went wrong in test execution.
- Provide clear and actionable insights that drill down, step-by-step, and eliminate any guesswork 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 the former cannot reproduce.
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 quickly verify, debug, and fix issues ranging from UI functionality and usability to performance and network consumption. It will enable embedding the test, video, console, and network logs to facilitate smooth test failure analysis. For defect tracking and resolution, it allows easy reporting through Slack, JIRA, etc..
2. Provide Replicable Outcomes via Root Cause Analysis
Root Cause Analysis is a core feature of Test Failure Analysis. It is essential in test methodologies like Visual Testing, where the exact differentiation from the expected outcome must be understood in detail for the fix to occur.
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 and 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 bird ‘ s-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 downloaded in a PDF format for easy access and sharing with stakeholders.
Labeled Test Sessions
Tests fail occasionally, 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 QA Engineers to provide insightful test failure analysis using cutting-edge tools and techniques to help rapidly identify and eliminate defects and accelerate overall product release velocity.
Test Failure Analysis with BrowserStack
With BrowserStack, instantly pinpoint failure reasons with ML-based categorizations like product, automation, or environment issues. View tests grouped by unique errors to prioritize fixes. Teams can reproduce bugs faster and improve the quality and performance of unit or integration tests.
UPDATE: With BrowserStack Test Observability, teams can easily filter real test failures with auto-tagging into flaky, always-failing, new shortcomings. Access every log – framework, video, screenshot, terminal, network & even application logs – chronologically sorted in a single pane. Dig into past logs to debug at the source.