The Colas Group’s ambition is being the world leader in innovative, sustainable mobility solutions. Its mission is designing, building and maintaining sustainable transport infrastructure from its local roots, around the world. Its reason for acting? Connecting communities and fostering exchanges for the world of today and tomorrow. Its three main business segments are Roads, Materials and Railways.
The organization runs approximately 86,000 road and railway projects each year in some 50 countries worldwide. Their workforce of 55,000 people relies on a complex infrastructure to keep these projects moving. And these employees rely on the Colas Digital Solutions group. This group ensures that critical processes across 110 business applications work seamlessly while those applications evolve to meet their ever-changing operational needs.
With a major ERP system update rolling out as part of a broader digital business initiative, Colas’ quality leaders recognized that their existing manual testing approach had to evolve. It could not achieve the testing speed and completeness required to deliver the new functionality on-time and with an acceptable quality level. They had two options: hire additional manual testers or invest in test automation.
In theory, the automation path could yield significant cost savings in the long term, as well as provide more accurate and more rigorous checking than any number of manual testers could perform in a reasonable amount of time. But doubts remained. Was it possible to do test automation without wasting lots of time on test maintenance? Their quality leaders Sandrine Kita and Galaad Lepaul knew from past experiences that just building test automation was not enough for success. It was also critical to ensure the automation was resilient, reusable, and sustainable—and that required looking beyond the traditional script-based test automation tools that had failed in the past.
Colas Digital Solutions launched the TASER (Test Automation of System to Evade Regressions) project and started researching test automation approaches that would evade the “maintenance trap” known to undermine test automation initiatives. A brief Proof of Concept with Tricentis Tosca proved that it fit their various needs extremely well:
Galaad Lepaul built the initial set of tests working closely with experts from Tricentis. Some team members were not yet convinced of the value of test automation, so they decided to run manual testing in parallel with the new test automation. On the automated perimeter, the test automation not only found all the same issues that the manual testers did. In fact, it found more issues since it covered application areas that manual testers didn’t have time to check. At that point, the value of automation was accepted.
Based on the initial success, the project and team expanded. With a broader focus on quality assurance, they are advancing test automation across additional applications and also optimizing a manual test factory of Colas employees located in Morocco. For over three years now, they have been working closely with Tricentis, developing strategies with the guidance of Tricentis Customer Success and taking full advantage of various success programs that Tricentis has to offer (Continuous Testing Maturity Assessments, for example).
The Colas team has become Tricentis Tosca power users, and they plan to extend test automation across additional projects. They already know how to create sophisticated test automation with ease, and this expertise will ensure the fastest return on their subsequent test automation efforts.
“Before, testing was just a buffer between development and go-live. Now, people in projects are beginning to embrace testing and the quality mindset. Seeing the increase in quality and the reduction of issues in production is really helping to underscore the value of testing.” – Sandrine Kita, QA Lead at Colas Digital Solutions