By Ralph Booth and Anthony Kirkham, Pega Express Directors in EMEA and APAC
Before we begin, let us apologize for the title. Puns are a natural part of writing, just as testing is a natural part of creating any application. The good news is that Pega makes testing easier and much more effective with our accelerators. With Pega Express™ and other best practices, it becomes a seamless extension to any configuration activity. In this blog, we want to summarize this advice and help you prepare your project for testing. We’ll highlight some of our “special sauce” best practices that you can adopt that make testing with Pega straightforward to organize and execute.
Step 1: High Level Planning
Plan for testing from the outset. Validating the application before it goes live involves different types of testing at different times by different skill sets. You obviously need to plan. You can’t skip a critical test and expect a good outcome. To be successful, create a schedule outlining the resources you require at each stage (people or environments).
Typically proving an application requires a variety of testing:
- Unit testing performed by the development team
- Client testing, including user acceptance,
- Rounds of testing as required for performance, security, and additional validation testing
Try to finalize the plan for testing in the Prepare phase (when the delivery team meets before build starts) and align your test activities with the configuration sprint schedule, to ensure that developers and testers can start their testing of the planned regular code drops as soon as possible, almost in parallel. As the saying goes, “test early and often.”
Step 2: Start as the you mean to go on
Take advantage of the quality assurance tools built in to Pega. The Pega Express approach ensures that quality is front and center throughout the Prepare phase and beyond.
If you don’t already know, Pega has a guardrail score that calculates how well you are adhering to configuration best practice. Reaching that 100% Pega Guardrail score is something that everyone wants. You can see the score in the Guardrail dashboard. We suggest that you regularly monitor the Pega guardrail dashboard and use the Pega Predictive Diagnostic Cloud (PDC). Aim for a score of 95% or above. If you dip below that score, your development team will know what to do to raise the score. However, don’t drop below a score of 80%. If you do, you must interrupt your build to resolve the matter.
These resources ensure that your application is the best that it can be going forward and make it easy to stay within the guardrails, but only if you regularly monitor it.
Step 3: Detailed Planning
With your schedule and resource plan created you then next want to think about how you approach testing your microjourneys™. Microjourneys are how Pega breaks down customer journeys into more manageable pieces. Being honest; we have all seen projects which have barely considered the logic behind which user stories populate each sprint.
This approach often leads to the end-to-end experience being built and tested ineffectively. While your Business Architect has started to breakdown your microjourneys during the Prepare phase, talk to your product owner, and collaborate on creating a Pega Express Test Plan. A Pega Express test plan enables you to target functionality, achieved through your user stories, to sprints that collectively create testable entities. You can use your test team to effectively test logical chunks of the microjourney and build confidence in the application, rather than testing the end-to-end flow of the microjourney right at the end of the build phase.
Step 4: Development Testing
Development Testing is critical, and we know it’s easiest to address any issues at this earlier point in the process. Pega Express has two great best practices to adopt at this point in the application lifecycle:
- Don’t overlook creating a definition of done for your configuration team. It is a very simple and established technique, which has huge returns if adhered to properly. A “definition of done” is part of the delivery teams commitment to quality. It is achieved through a developer’s checklist, which assesses each user story to ensure that it meets the expected standards before client testing or any subsequent downstream tests on the code, can begin.
- Take advantage of the automated testing ability that comes with Pega, such as Pega Unit™ and Pega Scenario. After an initial set up investment, these out-of-the-box tools can automate your tests, and over time, create regression packs that allow you to save time and test new deployments quickly. Find out more on our Pega Express toolkit.
Step 5: Client Functional Testing
Plan to perform client functional testing alongside your sprints. At this point, your Pega Express test plan starts to pay dividends because you can test logical pieces of the solution as they reach the definition of done. In this stage, a key best practice is to ensure that you involve business end users in your testing. This practice will ensure not only that the business starts to familiarize itself with the solution ahead of go live, but also that they can send valuable feedback into the backlog and to be considered for future configuration.
Also, if you are testing out-of-the-box microjourneys, which have been tested heavily before, focus instead on testing what is new, and not what many teams have tested before you.
Step 6: Release Testing
With all the functionality tested, clients often undertake release testing in the form of performance and security related testing. These rounds of testing are important input into your go live checklist to prove the application is ready for end users to adopt.
Solid planning for this type of testing is essential if specific tests require external or specialist resources to undertake them. Depending on your environment set up, the Pega DevOps role really helps at this stage, as you can easily move code through environments. It also is a great best practice to adopt to create a foundation for future releases.
As you can see, testing doesn’t always have to be a challenge. With the Pega Express approach, we advocate using best practices to ensure you get the most out of your Pega investment by using out-of-the-box features to hone your test approach. Furthermore, our approach promotes proven techniques, such as defining “done,” which can powerfully affect your application in positive ways. Put simply, testing doesn’t always have to be testing. (Sorry, another pun!) To find out more, take the Pega Express Delivery mission and complete a short test to get your delivery badge!
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