Automation is the process of making equipment or systems work automatically with little or no human input. Over the years, automation has made life easier for people and allowed them to focus on more important things rather than spend time on repetitive tasks. The question that gets asked often is if this ease can be enjoyed in the Agile process. The answer is “Yes” and this article will explain how. We will not only discuss the possibility of automation in the Agile process but also, how it works with every step of the process.
One of the most important phases of the Agile process is integration. Some people refer to it as Agile integration or Continuous Integration. Each of these appellations refers to the process of using automation and strict version control to ensure the availability of a stable software update at any point in time. The purpose of adopting agile integration is to ensure that the high-quality software comes with little or no defects, in a more controlled production process.
Agile integration didn’t become mainstream in the industry until the 1990s and it served as an alternative to the defective traditional waterfall development process. However, since its inception, it has slowly and steadily grown to be a reliable and credible development process for developers and organizations.
The use of continuous integration in the industry, for a long time, was prominent in the development of consumer-based software, web applications, and mobile applications. Rightfully so, because the agile integration process focuses on frequent and small releases which are in tandem with the hourly or daily resales common with the web-based and mobile solutions. However, organizations that have not fully adopted the agile methodology are now using the agile integration approach. This is due to the automation and the smaller releases delivered by the approach.
Another part of the agile process that has utilized automation is the Deployment phase. the use of automation in the deployment phase ensures that developers can ship their codes from the development phase to the production phase without tampering with the functionality of the code. The use of automation in deployment helps to ensure that the deployment process is not only reliable but also efficient.
It is important to understand that the deployment process in itself cannot ensure the shipment of codes from development to production without breaking its functionality. This is because to do this, one must know the path that the code would take to avoid breaking its functionality. This is where automation comes in.
While automating your deployment process, you need a pipeline. This deployment pipeline is the process of taking your codes from the version control environment to the application where it is utilized by users.
The automated deployment process has three approaches which are based on the level of automation across environments. These approaches include continuous integration, continuous delivery, and continuous deployment. Continuous integration is the same as the automated integration process and it involves integrating code changes daily. The continuous delivery process is an extension of the continuous integration process and it involves ensuring that the code is ready to be deployed at any time. The last approach is the continuous deployment itself and it involves automating the entire process of the deployment pipeline.
After integrating and deploying your codes, the next step is to ensure that the code works. You are not only required to ensure that the code works, but that it works the way it is supposed to. For this purpose, software developers and organizations have resulted in testing. The manual way of testing if the software works as it should is by writing a test script for comparing the expected outcome and actual outcome of the code. However, in a world where automation applies to all the facets of development, testing software can be automated too.
Automated testing is carried out by using automation testing tools. You can use these automation testing tools to handle repetitive testing tasks. They are also used to handle tasks that are difficult to perform manually.
While automated testing sounds impressive and exciting, it is expensive, initially. And this is one of the problems that many organizations have with automated testing. However, numerous advantages come with putting up with the initial high cost.
One of these advantages is the accuracy that comes with using automated tools for regression testing. While the accuracy of a manual tester would dwindle with time, that of the automation testing tool doesn’t. Also, some testing tasks cannot possibly be handled manually. For instance, testing an application under a load of users amounting to hundreds of thousands or comparing two images based on their pixel.
The database is an important part of the software. Thus, it is expected that the wave of automation spreading across the development process would touch on the database too. This expectation is not ill-informed. There is a concept known as database automation, and it involves the use of self-updating processes and unattended procedures to carry out administrative tasks in a database.
With the introduction of automation in database management, there have been some upsides. These include improved reliability, increased speed of implementing changes, and reduction of errors on deployments. Also, there are lots of repetitive tasks that would normally tie up staff and other resources. These tasks include upgrading, provisioning, patching, scaling, failover, and recovery. So automation releases staff that would have been involved with updating codes and carrying out the aforementioned tasks and makes them available for other tasks.
The use of an automated database as a service didn’t make mainstream until 2009 when Amazon Web Services came out with Amazon RDS. This was closely followed by Microsoft in 2010 who released Azure. These two then paved way for the introduction of other tools for an automated database such as Stratavia’s Data Palate, BladeLogic Database Automation by GridApp, and System BMC.
From inception to the delivery of the software or mobile application, the development process is usually supervised by a product manager whose task is to ensure that the resulting product matches the needs and requirements of the product owner. To achieve this, the product manager would have to work with the designers, developers, testers, and all other stakeholders involved with the product, in a series of practices known as the product management process.
While this process used to be manual, it is not that surprising to know that the management process can also be automated. With a workflow automation tool, product managers now have their jobs simpler and easier to do. From breaking every step in the development process down to individual tasks to managing these tasks and ensuring that the parties involved do a great job at each step, the workflow automation tool makes every aspect of the product management process simpler.
This automation tool doesn’t only break the process down into individual tasks, it breaks it down visually. With the visual representation, it is easier to follow the project’s progress. What’s more, this tool allows you to send the visual breakdown to the product teams. Thus, everybody gets their assigned tasks and can follow up on the progress of each task with this automation tool.
With digital products, there is a form of documentation that comes with these products. Be it to explain its features or to make the use of the product easier and more streamlined, almost all digital products need to have a form of documentation. Now, the documentation used to be the responsibility of the developers, and rightfully so, because they had the most input in the building and deployment of the product.
However, with automation, developers have to go through little or no stress concerning creating documentation for the products. This is because the automated documentation process allows the use of reusable templates for these documentations. As a result, the overall drafting time for these documentations is greatly reduced.
Now, the template used by the automation software is not commonly generated templates found on the internet. These templates use conditional logic and are leveraged on connected data sources. Thus, the automation tool used for documentation integrates with DMS, OCR, and CRM. This tool doesn’t create templates for your documentation, it also creates the documents, manages them, and ensures their output, distribution, and security compliance.
Automation is the rave of the moment in many industries around the world. In the tech industry, where the idea of automation stemmed from, it would be outrageous not to find automation in full use within the industry. This is why we were not surprised to see the use of automation in the agile methodology or framework.
Having understood that automation doesn’t only make their work faster and better, it also makes it easier for them to avoid repetitive tasks, professionals in the software development sector have embraced the automation process and allowed for the development of better products within shorter timeframes.