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Why enterprises are shifting to a ‘best of suite’ approach to continuous testing

“With the COVID-19 pandemic, companies have little choice but to change. It’s existential. And technology will be the way to survive.” That’s what Tom Siebel, the CEO of and the author of Digital Transformation: Survive and Thrive in an Era of Mass Extinction, recently told Forbes.

In the scramble to pivot to digital business, enterprise software will inevitably evolve. As the need for digital solutions grows, software delivery processes and enterprise architectures will need to adapt to support increases in volume and speed. Automation, and automated software testing in particular, is at the core of being adaptive, according to Forrester Vice President and Principal Analyst Diego Lo Giudice, who joined Tricentis as a guest speaker on a recent webinar.

With average enterprise test automation rates hovering around 20%, testing presents a significant opportunity for scaling automation. But past automation approaches have not helped application delivery teams keep up with increased demands of modern delivery. As testing grows in scope and scale, roadblocks emerge, from siloed knowledge and difficulty collaborating to limited visibility into release readiness and testing effectiveness. To combat these challenges, an increasing number of enterprises are evolving their approach in favor of speed, scalability, and reduced complexity.

Recent research shows that enterprise preferences are shifting away from best of breed, and towards a unified testing platform or suite that meets most testing needs, with flexible integration options to accommodate a handful of purpose-built and/or open source tools. Nearly 80% of enterprises now prefer this approach, Lo Giudice discovered in research for The Forrester Wave™: Continuous functional test automation suites, Q2 2020.

“This is not just a data point specific to functional test automation tools. It’s an overall trend in the continuous delivery lifecycle,” which includes up to 80 different tools, Lo Giudice said. “And that’s why having a single, different best of breed tool for each one of them is something that very few want to deal with.”

Challenges associated with the best of breed approach

In theory, the best of breed approach for adopting enterprise testing technology makes sense: Go find the best solution for each team, application, and testing need and adopt it. That way, you know each need gets met with a highly specialized solution that offers the best capabilities to accomplish a certain goal.

In practice, it doesn’t work out quite so well, particularly as organizations accelerate their shift to digital business and modernize IT infrastructure to support increasingly complex business processes. Against this backdrop, teams need tools that help simplify and scale automated software testing. Several challenges explain the current shift:

Heterogenous architectures: Organizations need to modernize the backend of their systems to avoid creating a “digital illusion,” in which a highly innovative frontend system feeds into an outdated backend that results in a broken user experience. But this can’t happen all at once. According to Lo Giudice, testing must be able to accommodate these hybrid processes, or what he calls “heterogeneous journey maps,” as the effort progresses.

Pipeline integration: When testing must address these complex journey maps across multiple technologies, at multiple layers – while also handling efforts like test data management and planning, it’s easy to get overloaded with tools. Some companies find themselves managing 20 or more. This setup makes it challenging to scale test automation or achieve true continuous testing integration.

Cross-team collaboration: With more complex software and more of it, a wider array of people across are testing. According to The Forrester Wave™: Continuous Functional Test Automation Suites, Q2 2020, “With business, technical and developer personas all stewards of quality, modern software testing requires a technology environment that enables collaboration and easy navigation from one type of testing to another and among the different persona testers.”

Why the best of suite approach offers a better solution for continuous testing

Taking a best of suite approach, in which a single suite meets a majority of testing needs (and offers flexible integration with other tools), directly addresses many of these challenges.

An integrated test suite effectively supports these needs with:

  • Improved collaboration: Making it easy for business users, developers, and technical testers to collaborate in a single environment to more seamlessly execute various types of tests.
  • Increased speed: Enabling testing to happen faster by eliminating time spent building and managing integrations and transferring information from one tool to another.
  • More consistent experience: Creating a more consistent experience for users across all types of tests and avoiding the hassles that come with moving different types of data across tools.
  • Smarter solutions: Optimizing testing, including the way teams plan, design, and execute testing, by delivering data-driven insights into application changes and high-risk areas and introducing AI and machine learning into the process.

As Lo Giudice puts it: “Smart, integrated suites of testing tools outperform the less effective, siloed best of breed ones. On top of the typical integration and maintenance functions, capabilities like AI and machine learning infused in test automation design and execution, combined heterogenous channels and API testing dictate which providers will lead the pack.”

Evaluating test automation suites

Forrester evaluated 15 solutions in The Forrester Wave™: Continuous Functional Test Automation Suites, Q2 2020 and found that “the best tools provide a uniform, consistently easy-to-use experience: an environment that facilitates collaboration across the software development lifecycle (SDLC) and testing stakeholders but within which is always straightforward to operate. All testing personas should be able to smoothly navigate across the different testing types (e.g., functional, nonfunctional, API, web and mobile) without feeling that they are moving to a different tool.”

Watch the webinar to learn more.