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Test automation: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Learn how to maximize the value of automated testing.
Over the years, test automation has revolutionized the way companies deal with repetitive and time-consuming tasks. It has made it possible to gain more accurate and reliable testing results, and has allowed for high-quality products to be released as quickly as possible. But, it seems that automated testing is no silver bullet. In this article, we will look into the subtle art of test automation and why it should not be romanticized.
Why automation testing?
Sometimes, manual testing is just not enough for complex and multidimensional projects. By contrast, automated testing saves resources while empowering developers and production managers to divert their efforts and focus on urgent tasks. It can also improve overall functionality as testing can be performed much more frequently, at any time of the day or night. Given these benefits, the demand for test automation tools will expand exponentially. According to Global Market Insights Inc., the software testing market revenue is predicted to rise up to $60 billion by 2027.
Test automation allows companies to accomplish the following major purposes:
- Reduce investment in mundane tasks
- Speed up the product development cycle
- Ease the workload of team members
- Gain more precise testing results
Automated testing creates new opportunities for continuous improvement and updates in automation test scripts. It ensures that a company can raise the quality of its products with the same amount of team members and develop new strategies for a faster product development cycle.
Five common myths about automated testing
Below is a list of well-spread myths that you’ve probably heard about test automation.
- Automated testing is more expensive than manual testing. Automated testing can swiftly and accurately execute tests, saving time and any investment previously spent on manual testing. In addition, automated testing can be run on various devices, including mobile devices, which can help ensure that your product works as intended on all platforms. It is an investment that brings considerable value in the long haul.
- Automated testing can completely replace manual testing. Conducted by a human being, manual testing is more flexible and can be adapted to changing conditions more easily than automated testing. Additionally, manual testing can take into account factors that are difficult to replicate with automated testing, including the user experience.
- You need no experience to automate testing. Actually, you need a strong understanding of both the testing and software development cycle to run automated testing. Furthermore, it is crucial to be familiar with various software testing tools and to have the necessary experience to automate test cases.
- When created, automation test scripts can run for all versions of builds. Different versions of builds can have different code, which can lead to contrasting results after the execution of tests. To ensure that the automated testing scripts are accurate for all versions of the builds, they would need to be specifically designed for each build.
- There is a single universally applicable automation solution. Unfortunately, there cannot be just a simple tool for automated testing, because there is no single testing method suitable for all software development projects. Each project has its own unique set of requirements, which means that different testing approaches would allow for adequately assessing the full quality of the software.
By understanding these myths, you can also clearly see the opportunities of test automation and better product development in your company in the future.
What are the benefits of automation?
Automated testing brings to the table multiple advantages, including:
- Reduced human intervention. Tests can be run with little or no supervision at any time, which also minimizes the risk of human error.
- Accelerated testing process. Automation reduces the time usually spent on routine manual tasks.
- Lower expenses. Investment in automated testing makes employees’ workflow more efficient in the long run.
- Higher test coverage. Automated testing increases the test coverage for the product and creates an automated test suite for future reuse.
- Valuable insights. Automated testing makes it easier to detect why some tests fail as it provides access to memory contents, data tables, file contents, and other internal program states.
- Better stability. Your team can accelerate the product’s release and optimize its stability in the long haul.
Not only does automation allow your teams to rationalize software testing costs and optimize processes, but it also opens up new opportunities to create innovative and user-oriented products. An increasing number of companies are striving to benefit from its implementation, trying to avoid testing bottlenecks, and releasing products faster. Yet, automation is not a universal remedy for every problem that companies encounter. That’s why it heavily relies upon flexible and intelligent implementation.
Why is romanticizing test automation a bad thing?
Automation for the sake of automating can hardly bring your company any value. Focusing on the project’s requirements and creating a unique architecture is better than using test automation in vain. If you search for a trustworthy QA vendor, you’ll also need to pay attention to a company that takes things seriously and creates a new framework for your project, while clearly understanding what you want to achieve and how to do it quickly. It is better to avoid those who tell you that pre-made solutions are a remedy for everything instead of building a custom-made approach for your needs. Look for those who can grasp your situation fully and build open communication for the sake of future advancement.
What can go wrong? Maintenance sets the solid need to automate scripts and keep up with future changes in the product. Besides, testers should often identify whether a failure occurred in the automation code or production code. Another important question is concerned with the scale of automation. What tests should be automated and what are the metrics that identify them? Before using a testing framework, a QA Automation engineer should know how to find the right tools for the project and implement them according to its objectives. And, although manual testing is hardly an option for the continuous performance of repetitive tasks, it can be beneficial when used alongside automated testing. The perfect combination may be somewhere in between.
When to automate testing?
You may have some basic questions before the implementation of test automation. When to automate? What tests should be automated first? Here is a list of examples that can help you identify areas for improvement:
- Tests that can fail due to human error
- Repetitive and monotonous tests
- Large-scale tests that run on numerous data sets
- Tests that require time-consuming manual work
- High-risk tests
- Tests that run on several hardware or software platforms
You should also take into account some of the other factors that will impact testing. For example, the frequency of the feature’s use by customers helps to calculate the risk of an error and the impact the feature has on the users. Additionally, it is crucial to consider what kind of feedback the automated testing can produce. Is this information valuable enough to catalyze improved decision-making?
If the test has failed and there was a bug, how quickly can that bug be fixed? To determine whether automated testing is necessary in this case, you may consider analyzing the bug backlog. How similar is this feature to other areas that have broken in the past? What was the frequency of breaks in this test case? Uniting these pieces of the puzzle, you can clearly understand how to live up to the full potential of automated testing and reinvent your software development cycle.
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Five steps to implement automated testing effectively
Before discussing a rundown on the implementation of automated testing, we need to make it clear that every project is unique in its own way and there are no ready-made solutions available on the market for your team. Although automation is a universal response to repetitive tasks, it should be tailor-made for the particular project, with a strong focus on its goals and architecture.
Whether you are just considering its implementation or already using it, below are a few things to remember if you want to embrace automated testing.
1. Analyze the software architecture. What are the main goals of the project? What framework and documentation are going to be used? What about its technical feasibility? Answering these questions will help you optimize automated testing to the scale you need. The model of analysis can include different stages when you define analysis goals, then prepare, analyze, and resolve problems.2. Create a strategy of implementation. What do you want to discover by the end of the testing? A step-by-step plan of implementation will have all the necessary information for the future executions of testing and will describe your framework design and features, as well as automated test tools and data sources to use. You will also need a detailed timeline to automate test cases with the development team. You may also want to examine in-scope and out-of-scope items of automation.
3. Pass through the execution stage. Now, when you have the necessary tools, it is time to execute your automation test scripts and find the results. You will receive a report summarizing the outcome of the testing that indicates the quality of code at the end of this stage, as automated tests can damage the build during the development process.
4. Guarantee ongoing maintenance. As a crucial part of the automated testing process, maintenance allows you to update reusable automation test scripts. It also provides an opportunity to run tests more accurately as your approach has been repeatedly tried and tested, and you can improve it along the way.
Although test automation has numerous advantages, it still requires a flexible custom-made approach as there are no ready-made tools suitable for every testing framework. Your strategy for implementing test automation is likely to rely on the ongoing maintenance of the automation test scripts and their qualified supervision. Test automation is not a universal answer to every challenge, but a reliable way to reimagine your software development cycle and live up to your full potential.
Interested in learning more? Avenga can help you deliver quality software and provide your end customers and your teams with the best software performance experience. Discover our AQA services!
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