5 steps to an effective regression test suite

Learn about the importance of regression testing and how to run it

Regression testing has evolved considerably over the past 10 years. Gone are the days of regression testing cycles running for weeks or even months on the same version of candidate code. Today, regression test suites need to be lightweight, effective and efficient.

Regardless of the software development methodology, development teams must produce quality code at a rapid pace to meet customer demands and keep up with the competition. Regression tests in Agile, for example, can last 1 to 2 days, although some organizations may have regression testing cycles that last 3 to 5 days. But what really matters is that the regression test suite works, not the number of days it takes to run it.

Let’s discuss the importance of regression testing and how to create a very effective and efficient regression test suite.

Why are regression testing important?

Regression testing improves the quality of application code at the point of release. Unless they are continuous, regression testing usually takes place before the release date. Regression testing proves that the new code fits into the existing code base without complications. When the application continues to operate as before, the regression test suite is validated and the new version code is considered safe for distribution to customers.

Ongoing changes tend to break existing code and create glitches. The regression test suite verifies that the client is not receiving a faulty version code, which can lead to poor user experience and lost revenue.

If you break customer trust by releasing broken apps, it is very difficult to regain it, if not impossible. Invest in a regression test suite to ensure a higher quality version code version.

How to create a regression test suite

There are different ways to create a regression test suite. To maximize effectiveness and efficiency in a short turnaround time, consider a few options. You can create a regression test suite using groups, which implement tests that cover all the functionality of the application. You can group regression tests based on features, functions, integrations, or some other logical area. In this regression testing strategy, you run a batch for each version in a rotation. For example, if you group the regression test runs into four sets, you run one set per version – this would require four versions to go through the full regression test suite. Or, you can just run the regression test groups that apply to the most recent version, like the checkout functionality when the checkout function of the cart is changed.

You can also consider continuous testing, where testing continues regardless of release deadlines. The QA test team does its job by testing new features and bugs, and then runs manual regression tests when possible. Automated regression tests can be run at any time, such as at night or on weekends – in this case, there is no separate regression test cycle; the regression test suite continues to run.

Whichever method you choose, perform these five actions when building your regression test suite:

1. Prioritize your regression tests

When developing a regression test suite, the first key element is to include critical or high priority tests. High priority tests assess the main functions or basic workflows of the application. Tests for critical functions can assess core engines, APIs and connections or database performance. Important workflows can also include user interface based functionality.

First, define your priorities and what they mean. Then, go through all the existing functional tests and give them a priority. If you don’t have any existing tests, prioritize them as you create them. Expand critical tests first, then move down the line. Critical, high-priority tests look for defects that require quick fixes. A fault in critical or high priority functions prevents the application from functioning at all or causes significant failures in the workflow, costing customers valuable time and money due to loss of work or of a recovery. When these functions fail, there is a direct financial impact on the business and they require additional time to repair.

Consider code-free automation or code-based automated testing for critical functions. Applause Codeless Automation (ACA) can help automate part of your regression test suite to verify critical functionality without writing a single line of code. If you run critical regression testing every time a release is built, you’ll quickly discover these types of issues, before they affect customers, QA testers, or developers working on a release. .

2. Build smoke tests

When you pull your critical and priority tests into a regression suite, name it “smoke test suite” and run it daily, every two weeks, or with each release. Perform smoke tests before starting any other tests to avoid unnecessary downtime and wasted work time.

Automate your smoke tests, with ACA or scripted tests, to save significant time. If you keep testing simple, say with one or two validation points, it simplifies failure analysis. Do not test all functions with a smoke test; just cover as much of the codebase as possible at a non-shallow level. Why? the value in test automation is to find faults in workflows that occur frequently and are critical to the functionality of your application. Make sure your smoke test suite is succinct and of great value.

Run these tests frequently and before release, as well as whenever the version of the release changes. It might also be a good idea to run smoke tests in production to check, for example, a back-end change that shouldn’t directly affect users. If you’re adding last-minute bug fixes and improvement features to a release in the final stages, you need a smoke test regression suite.

3. Make a manual effort

Next, create a test suite for the basic functionality of the application. These are often the most automated tools cannot handle due to the integrated and complex interactions involved. Although this basic functional regression test suite contains workflows that may not be essential to the operation of the application, they are workflows frequently used by end users.

Manual regression testing can include exploratory testing around the test case that automation would not cover. Other manual regression tests cover end-to-end or system workflows that are long and complex, which is not ideal for automation.

Basic functional regression test suites help keep your code clean and generate positive customer responses to your application

4. Test the integrations

Run a regression suite that tests your API connections, core messaging engines, and data streams. Validate any built-in process that the app needs, but the user doesn’t see it. While frequently developing a regression test suite for these types of functions is tedious and often requires the help of a developer or IT department, but it is well worth it.

You don’t have to cover everything. Create tests that assess, or at least affect, each process in a valid way, as in the groups discussed above. Typically, QA testers do not have direct access to back-end processes. However, tests should assess these characteristics, even if they seem superficial. When back-end processes, API, or data connections fail, it quickly becomes obvious to the user. Allow QA testers to access these features or tools to view and create functional tests in the back end. Invest developer time if necessary, it will be worth it if you prevent even one failure from occurring in these critical processing engines.

5. Don’t forget about performance

Performance testing is a four letter word for most development organizations. Why? If the app works, many consider it sufficient. But is it?

If the user experience changes in terms of performance with each release, it is baffling for the end user. Worse, if the app slows down with each release in key workflow functions, then your customer loses confidence in your app. In this case, the frustration builds up as the user cannot tell if the system is working or is stuck. Excessive expectations waste your end users’ time and negatively affect their productivity.

Whether complex or simple, your regression test suite should take performance testing into account. The performance will not fix itself and your app will eventually shut down if you fail to resolve the issues. Many don’t consider system speed to be a critical characteristic, but it dramatically affects how customers perceive your application. Develop a performance regression suite with a performance testing tool or simple manual tests that look for problem areas.

How does code-less automation fit in

Regression test runs can be manual or automated, but are usually a mix of the two. The beauty of an effective regression test suite is that once it’s developed, you can run parts or all of it at any time. Use your regression test suite flexibly to meet your business needs. Give your application and software development team the best chance for success and invest in building an effective and efficient regression test suite.

Applause Codeless Automation can help you get started building a regression test suite. Leverage ACA to create modular tests for simple workflows that you can adjust and reuse as needed. Plus, Automated Functional Testing gives you access to automation experts and a powerful framework to help you build a complete suite of automated tests.


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