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Case study: How Finnish Saas provider LeadDesk cut its testing time in half

Finland-based call centre software maker LeadDesk has cut software development times and improved processes through automation software

Finnish call centre software provider LeadDesk has cut its release testing time by 50% after deploying cloud-based test automation software from fellow Finn Usetrace.

As software development cycles intensify, so are the expectations placed on new test automation tools.

Olli Nokso-Koivisto, CEO at LeadDesk said a major benefit is not having to worry about infrastructure. “A major part of the infrastructure usually required by test automation can be let go,” he said. 

But the benefits go further. “Running tests is also easier than before, which makes it possible to allocate testing resources more efficiently to things other than routine testing,” Nokso-Koivisto added.

LeadDesk, which has offices in eight countries and customers in 15, is using Usetrace’s web testing tool to automate the top 50 use cases for its cloud-based call centre software.

Automation typically requires writing test scripts, but Usetrace says it is now codeless as all user paths (or traces) for testing are automatically created by computers. A Usetrace user mimics how a customer would interact with a website (for example, fills in forms, orders products and clicks links on the website) and its cloud computer automatically learns these traces and repeats them in different browsers periodically, as well as whenever the code is updated.

In addition to halving release testing times, LeadDesk says this increased automation has reduced manual testing work by 20% and led to 50% fewer reported user interface (UI) bugs.

“Timing manual testing is not straightforward as there are so many components, but we estimate that our testing, on average, [previously] took three days from two testers. This was despite using established test support tools,” said Nokso-Koivisto. 

“And this doesn’t show how [automation] enhances the development process. When a developer deploys its code for the first time, it can now get regression results straight away. This means it immediately learns if its code is causing problems.”

LeadDesk has also recently moved from a Scrum agile project management framework to Kanban which, combined with the gains from test automation, has helped the company to shorten its entire update release cycle from three weeks to one week.

Need for faster updates

However, the good results have not appeared overnight. LeadDesk’s co-operation with Usetrace began in early 2014 when the company was looking for tools to help it swiftly ship continuous software updates to meet the demands of growing user numbers.

LeadDesk’s SaaS platform is used by internal and outsourced call centres, as well as buyers of call-centre services to make more than 4 million calls a week.

“We have around 6,000 weekly users who do practically all their work through our software,” said Nokso-Koivisto. “It is very business-critical software. We have to deliver the highest possible uptime because if you think about something like customer service, you cannot afford downtime.”

LeadDesk had already tried a mixture of advanced and rudimentary test automation tools to reduce repetitive work, but was not satisfied by the time needed for scripting and maintenance. This made Usetrace’s programming-free alternative for end-to-end web testing seem appealing.

Read more enterprise IT stories from Finland

“Of course, we have used a lot of test automation previously, but it has required installing systems into our environments and doing our own integrations,” said Nokso-Koivisto. “Automation and testing had a big impact on our infrastructure and work hours. But now that we can automate our main use case tests [without additional integrations] and continuously run these tests against production, it saves a lot of resources.”

Usetrace has grown with LeadDesk. When the companies signed their first one-year contract, Usetrace was barely 18 months old and its software (based on the Selenium software testing framework) had yet to integrate all the features required by LeadDesk, but development has been fast, with close co-operation.

Cultural shift for developers

While LeadDesk has been satisfied with its decision to embrace Usetrace’s test automation software, Nokso-Koivisto admits there are always challenges when implementing a new system. A key issue has been adopting new methods of doing things when testers are used to other tools.

“From a technical point of view, it looks like this is the same software, just offered as a service, but that doesn’t take into account how it actually affects everything,” said Nokso-Koivisto. “When certain things are easier to do and development is more agile, features are also deployed more widely. This introduces new work methods. 

“Previously, a coder would get fast results from their own individual tests, but wouldn’t receive any feedback from the user interface side. This is a big change.”

When fewer resources are needed to add a new phase in test automation, developers can perform automated tests themselves, said Nokso-Koivisto. Consequently, the role of testers is changing.

“Ten years ago, the work of testers was considered perfunctory, but with these kinds of tools, it is transformed into expert work,” he added. “And this is the area we want to develop further – we need to think new kinds of use cases internally and how we can widen the scope of testing.”

At the same time, LeadDesk's co-operation with Usetrace will continue. It plans to increase automation to cover more than 60% of its testing. Before it adopted Usetrace, about 90% of tests were performed manually. 

The next step for both companies will be further focus on monitoring, which Usetrace is currently working on to implement as a wider part of its software.

“I see test automation as a big market in the future because so many resources and work hours are used in testing,” said Nokso-Koivisto. “The internet has increased the need to release software quickly and introduce new features to customers. It also changes the testing side as software development becomes more agile.”

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I'm really confused. The application notices how the code changes and tests those paths. Um, okay. How does it know what to expect?

Say, for example, you add a new drop-down to login, customer type. It is required. So the old login automated script would fail, "ERROR: You must select a user type."

How will the new code know to select VENDOR instead of CUSTOMER for userid foo@bar.com? For that matter, how could it know the userid and password?

The article explains that the work of testers is now considered expert work - so my guess is that there is still consider technical 
work to be done by a human.

We've been talking about codeless automation for decades now. If this promise ... It sounds to me like we need a more detailed article! :-)
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Whenever I have found myself getting dragged into the ideas of cutting testing time, reducing tests, test trimming etc, I have always made sure to revisit a fable by Jerry Weinberg. 

Some stories survive the test of time...I would encourage other people to read it. here - http://www.ayeconference.com/test-trimming-a-fable-about-testing/
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