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PMC Provides HMV with Automated Web Testing


The HMV web site is one of the most dynamic parts of its operation. Constant updates, regular offers, promotions and new product additions reflect HMV's fast-moving market. As part of its continuing programme to offer its online customers an excellent web experience, HMV asked retail system specialists PMC to develop an automated web testing programme to reduce the manual testing effort required on new releases.

HMV is the UK and Ireland's leading entertainment brand, from its landmark store in Oxford Street to 240 stores offering a specialist selection of entertainment content and technology products, plus online and digital sites as well as growing live venue, festival and ticketing operations.

Debbie O'Shea, IT Director, HMV states: "Automated testing reduces the effort needed in manual testing, which means we don't need people to run through hundreds of test scripts - this is now handled by a computer. Once the automated scripts are set up the testing can run overnight, it's more convenient, faster and completed automatically. An added advantage was PMC's flexible approach, both commercially and functionally. This allowed us to develop the system within an existing contract."

The dynamic nature of HMV's business means its website undergoes numerous releases with quick turnaround times. Automated testing allows HMV to verify these updates completely and quickly without needing a full manual cycle. Regular page updates include new products such as DVDs or CDs plus promotions and offers. This can involve changing multiple banners, pop-ups and scrolling. Since establishing automated testing, all HMV has to do is make minor changes to the automated scripts' data files and testing proceeds.

O'Shea continues: "PMC's system tests every aspect of each update – from simple tests such as: 'Do the updates appear correctly?' 'Do they react as expected?' and 'Do they take customers where they want to go?' to more complicated scripts that test the background logic of several areas including the checkout page. This ensures that sub totals and delivery charges are applied correctly as well as the "My Account" section, which handles customers' details."

Once the automatically generated test report identifies any failed tests HMV can drill down into the specific failure steps to see at which point during a script an error occurred. HMV then verifies the defect and takes the appropriate action.

When HMV commissioned PMC to develop the automated test system, as well as checking screens and the way they look, HMV gave PMC a set of 'key user journeys' that customers use to take different routes through the web site. Initially, PMC created detailed, step by step manual test scripts as the basis for the automated tests to exercise these journeys, which were reviewed and approved by HMV and then integrated into the automated system.

O'Shea closes: "In the 21st century it's critical to have a high quality web site. It's equally critical to test that site. Our customers expect a faultless experience. With automated testing the advantage is speed and cost. Now we can run multiple tests across multiple browsers and systems at the same time, overnight - all controlled from one PC, compared to manual tests involving three or four people."

Andy Hicketts, Client Services Director, PMC states: "It's important to develop, test and verify manual scripts and from there develop the automated process. That approach ensures the automated process operates exactly as the customer requires."