https://ukhodigital.blog.gov.uk/2018/12/18/delivering-value-with-automated-testing/

Delivering value with automated testing

Test automation is part of our core engineering practices at the UKHO. We blend traditional manual testing with automated testing to help deliver real value to our customers.

UKHO worker looking at code and geospatial data on a screen

Where were we?

Like many organisations, some years ago, we carried out all our software testing manually. This involved lots of scripts that would take us days to run – from the time some code was deployed, it could take days before anybody knew if the code was working as expected.

But as the UKHO started to move into a more agile way of working, a small number of developers started building automated tests - using software tools to execute pre-scripted tests without the need for physical time and effort. Initially this was small scale, but over a period, more and more teams adopted some form of automated testing as part of their delivery process.

How we use test automation

Today, we blend test automation with manual testing. By using a range of test automation tools, we’re able to run the same tests multiple times, every time a piece of code changes.

Not only does this reduce the time and effort required to complete repetitive tests, but it provides fast and efficient feedback to our teams. Previously it could take us days before knowing if code was working as expected – now it takes us just minutes.

Teams across the UKHO use automation in a variety of ways. A common application is for regression tests – making sure that when a piece of code is changed, other related code is not affected. Other teams are looking to utilise automated tests to cover security testing and deployment of code into environments.

As Test Engineering Manager, I am looking forward to seeing how we can use automation in other areas of the business, including load, penetration testing and data science. Developments in other areas, such as artificial intelligence, offer the possibility of greater intelligent automation – and we aim to help lead in these areas.

Looking to the future

Test automation is crucial to our digital transformation and we are continuing to develop our capabilities by recruiting new test automation engineers to join the team.

We’re also investing in our existing manual testers, helping them make the transition to test automation. This includes tailoring development plans for our engineers to help them grow their skills and even having our own test automation ‘guild’ where they can share best practice – all helping them deliver to our customers.

If you're interested in joining the team and becoming a Test Automation Engineer at the UKHO, check our website for the latest vacancies.

Find out more about roles at the UKHO

Andy Poole is Test Engineering Manager at the UK Hydrographic Office.

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