The COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in unprecedented changes. While enterprise automation was steadily gaining popularity, the sudden need to go 100 percent digital has accelerated the need for digital transformation, as the shift painfully delineated the disadvantages of relying upon manual processes. Against this backdrop, Kryon, known as a leading innovator in ‘Enterprise Automation’ with offerings such as process discovery and robotic process automation (RPA), recently hosted their virtual webinar – ‘RPA Best Practices- Creating an Automation Testing Plan’. After attending the same on behalf of Quadrant Knowledge Solutions, I can say this with certainty that there were quite some interesting takeaway points and insights by the time it ended!
Let us first start with the company I found myself with. In spite of the current pandemic, the company, with its effective competitive and growth strategy, and its patented proprietary AI-powered technology – ‘Kryon Process Discovery’, along with the user-friendly authoring tool – ‘Kryon Studio’, has performed exceptionally and emerged well-positioned in the global RPA and enterprise automation market.
Now, automation is the heart and soul of ‘enterprise automation.’ However, like all good business practices, it only works if planned properly. Kryon’s RPA offerings help organizations form good automation testing plans and implementation practices. Taking this one step further, Ziv Illan – Professional Services Team Leader at Kryon, presented the automated testing feature during the webinar. Indeed, the agenda of the webinar was to introduce the RPA testing framework, create a functional and integrated testing plan, showcase load testing, and design and execute UAT (user acceptance test) to provide automation into the production environment. The webinar, which was attended by a variety of technical levels of users and developers from across the world, provided a glimpse into Kryon’s RPA offerings, including full-cycle automation capability with a proprietary automation solution enabling direct deployment to RPA & analytics in a single and unified platform.
Furthermore, the session helped me understand how RPA automates wizards to guide the user by setting up software programs and reducing the future rework and maintenance in the production environment. Additionally, it gave me insightful knowledge about why testing is important and how continuous RPA testing ensures and verifies reliability, quality, and performance of business components. Furthermore, testing helps to understand production requirements, test data to execute the test cycle, and allows to manage defects and prepare documents for notifying the results to the development team. The idea behind the automation testing plan is to understand the kind of limitations involved within automation and to ensure business continuity from the perspective of automation. This further reiterated the importance of testing and the need to make it an integrated part of the development cycle and allocate dedicated time for the same.
Kryon’s automation testing plan provides three testing environments: components testing, system integration testing, and user acceptance testing. Previously, I had studied components testing and system integration testing in the application development process to make a solution stable and test the specific features to work with the rest of the process. However, I got to know during the webinar that user acceptance testing is an advanced capability in RPA that includes a test of the end-to-end processes and provides collaboration with business users and developers to ensure if any changes are required to be done, and to deliver the final solution by eliminating the risk of sensitive data being transmitted unknowingly.
Meanwhile, the RPA technology provides the development solution which is somewhere between the developer’s platform and the business platform; and hence it needs more than one environment for operation.
Some of Kryon’s suite highlights:
The Kryon suite provides three environments – staging, testing, and production to offer testing in all three environments rather than just in the testing environment for continuous improvement and better performance.
The Kryon suite provides a testing environment that is exactly the duplicate of the production environment and provides the same visual and networking features along with the robot to fully test your solutions. If some RPA solution is only able to mirror the development environment it has less impact on the quality of the solution and does not demonstrate the real conditions of the production environment.
Kryon’s latest RPA offerings allow business users and developers to collaboratively share the robot outcomes and do not have to worry about the code behind it.
This tells me clearly that Kryon provides a secure, scalable, and cost-efficient robotic process automation management, and also provides development power and visibility to the citizen developer. Kryon’s RPA testing is an integrated concept that guarantees stability and a shorter development cycle by identifying the automation process and delivering it to the RPA development stage through (rate of return) ROI insight and structured workflows.
Ayelet Gazit, Director of Learning & Development at Kryon further made the webinar more engaging by incorporating a diverse range of questions from the virtual attendees.
One of such questions revolved around allocation for the testing in the development lifecycle providing the attendees insights regarding Kryon’s RPA testing which takes approximately 30% of the time to run in development, design, and testing processes. Additionally, it provided lucid understanding of all three parts, viz., design, testing, and development – which are integrated into one other to make the solution more relevant and stable. Also, it was realised that every process runs in collaboration with the other, such that the process does not start when the other is stopped, but rather runs simultaneously.
Kryon’s RPA best practices to test data was also pondered upon during the discussion, since it is one of the hardest aspects of RPA data testing. Ziv especially emphasised on the challenges faced by the RPA solutions, especially when one creates a solution and tests data, making it exceptionally reliable and authentic. This assumes special significance since most of the business applications have only a defined production environment and there are challenges to creating a sandbox in the test. environment.
This made me realise that from the implementation and development perspective, the idea is to create or to mirror the production environment into a test environment that may not scale-up similar to the production environment but can have enough data to test it. Another capability of Kryon’s RPA that gave me an insight on testing issues faced by RPA developers, pointed to the question of whether an RPA developer gives a project manager the status on testing while using the waterfall or agile method?
The discussion made me realise that it is very much dependent on the project managers and their depth of knowledge about the solutions, such that the idea is to open up bottlenecks or to better communicate the status to the businesses. It is important to communicate your status as a developer and what is preventing you to deliver or meet the deadline so that the project manager will be able to communicate to the business. This is because in RPA, most of the bottlenecks are not on the developers’ side, but are also prevalent on the business, application, and IT side as well. If the business offers a new solution, or it is in the first integration stage with a specific application, there is a lot of authorization that needs to be handled on lots of different process cycles. Using the agile method for the development takes shorter cycles and more elaborated approach on each week consistently, and it gives project managers more hands-on experience on each of the wizards used in the development. Additionally, if a team is working on a development project, more such issues can be solved through the collaboration for newcomers and a new company that has started working on RPA to make it more scalable.
Further-more, emphasis was also provided by considering the developer’s point of view in lieu of what is better – to develop directly in the production environment because in transition one needs to do all the recording again, and how to handle that situation subsequently.
This got me thinking that if the development environment and production environment are remarkably similar from a resolution perspective, as a developer – one needs to duplicate the robot environment, not the server environment, since it’s easier to duplicate the environment with the same configuration and test it, rather than the other way around.
Moving further, Ziv also showed an easily understandable slide presentation on how to integrate testing as a part of one’s project plan. Kryon’s ability to provide attended and unattended testing pleasantly surprised me with its capabilities that include hybrid testing utilizing a bottoms-up approach – from functional testing to end-to-end integration testing, in addition to the attended MVP (Minimum Viable Product) user testing which allows getting feedback from diverse categories of users. I also noticed and learned that the company provides extensive UAT (User Acceptance Testing) accessibility to customers using logs to measure impact and stability in the development process, apart from continuous optimization providing a parallel ongoing process of users’ feedback in the entire development, design, and test environment. A brief slide on how ‘Kryon Studio’ supports one’s testing framework provided me a clear picture on how to utilize it to better evaluate complex logic, by implementing checkpoints with a message box and view the variable list and understand successful and unsuccessful run-in testing environment.
Kryon platform has given me more clarity on planning and testing to understand business expectations, technical challenges, design a solution that can run under unexpected events, and how to provide test expectations handling and fallback – in frequency and time, before sign-off. Special importance was also attached in the webinar on ‘how to design performance and load testing with data’ to visualize the success rate of a particular solution. The most important part was to get feedback for a solution by asking citizen developers or small teams to run UAT before moving to the production environment for the efficient performance of the application.
About the Author:
Sofia is a part of Quadrant’s global research and consulting team. She is responsible for Data, Analytics and AI research, and also conducts – global strategic market outlook, SPARK Matrix analysis, and client consulting assignments. She has also worked on various strategic research and vendor evaluation projects and is a part of Quadrant’s best practices team in identifying the most promising companies in the data, analytics & AI domain space. Sofia has been an integral resource for consulting assignments including detailed market mapping, custom market intelligence, analyst briefings, and such others.
Sofia holds a Post-Graduation in International Business from MIT-WPU, (Pune, India) and B.E in Automobile engineering from Gujarat Technological University, India.