Automation of Regression Testing Improves Software Quality And Reduces Development Costs

March 11, 2024  |  Mark Hillary

Regression testing is a critical process for any company using software applications and systems, which is just about every organization today. Can you imagine any business today running without any software? We all know that when software is updated, usually with added features, then it is important to ensure that everything still works as it did before.

The added features need to improve the software, but without changing the reliability of all the old functionality. This is the danger for the IT team — a change may break the existing system.

It can be very expensive when a software update goes wrong. Look at the TSB Bank system upgrade in 2018. The British bank was migrating from one software platform to a new one and the upgrade failed. Customers were locked out of their bank accounts for almost a week. Random payments were being exchanged between customers who could not even login to see what was happening.

The banking regulator in the UK fined TSB £48.65 million for this mistake. That’s an expensive price to pay for a software upgrade that failed.

But the real cost is not just paying the fine that a regulator issues. How many customers moved their account because of this disaster? How many customers told their friends and family to never trust TSB? The damage to reputation and ongoing business may have cost far more than the fine.

Regression testing aims to prevent these disasters. It allows system administrators to look back at different versions of the software, testing each new one, to ensure that once rolled out into production, there will not be any glitches. It also creates a set of stages — versions of the software. This ensures that, at each stage that works, there is the ability to roll-back if a new version has problems.

This focus on system stability and reliability is critical for many modern software systems. A banking disaster is serious for customers, but think about the immediate danger to lives if an air traffic control system started failing after an upgrade? Software controls so many aspects of our life today, there are some applications that simply cannot fail.

The best way to rigorously ensure that new versions work is regression testing. The software developers create a series of tests that each new version of the software must pass to prove it works correctly.

The problem is that in a large system, there may be many thousands of potential options and functionality to be tested. It is not only easier to train an automated regression testing system to perform all these tests, but it also creates a more secure testing environment. People performing manual tests may become bored or may skip tests, assuming they will be OK. The automated regression testing system will methodically check everything over and over again.

By continuously verifying the behavior of the software against a predefined set of test cases, regression testing helps maintain the overall quality of the software product. It ensures that the software performs as expected across different scenarios and user inputs.

This is great news for a software team that wants to ensure they avoid business impact — like the TSB disaster. Regression defects can have significant business impact, leading to loss of revenue, customer dissatisfaction, and damage to reputation. Regression testing helps in mitigating these risks by identifying and fixing defects before they reach the production environment.

The approach to version control also allows a strong focus on Agile development, where small changes and improvements are rolled out quickly, rather than waiting months for a software update with many new changes. In Agile methodologies where software evolves through iterative cycles of development, regression testing plays a critical role. It allows teams to quickly assess the impact of changes and ensure that the software remains stable and reliable throughout the development process.

Automated regression testing reduces the time and cost associated with software testing, but the improved quality offered by automation is possibly even more important than cost alone. Many industries are highly regulated and problems caused by software updates can lead to heavy fines — in addition to the loss of reputation.

Regression testing is essential for maintaining the stability, reliability, and quality of software applications, ultimately contributing to customer satisfaction and business success. Automating this process not only makes it more cost-effective and faster, but it also ensures a consistent level of testing quality — essential for any modern business.

IBA Group provides automated regression testing services, systems, and advice. Please click here for more information.

    Access full story Leave your corporate email to get a file.

      Subscribe A bank transforms the way they work and reach