Sometimes manual testing can’t cover all possible nuances of a product. If you care about the quality of the application, the productivity of the team, and the speed of the release, you should turn to automated testing. In this article we will find out what test automation is, what problems it solves, and how to implement test automation on your project. Go!
Test Automation: definition and criteria
Test automation refers to automating the process of tracking and managing the different tests. Test automation provides the running tests automatically through the management of test data. The verification process of an application is automated.
The purpose of test automation is to make sure that the product or its components fit predefined standards of quality in terms of code style, functionality, and interaction with the user.
Why test automation is important
- It saves time. Manual testing of all functionalities, all fields, all negative scenarios are time- and financially consuming.
- It allows us to test complicated applications. Manual testing is not very suitable for multilingual sites.
- Test automation in software testing doesn’t need human intervention.
- It provides high speed of test execution, reports and analytics.
- Automation helps to increase test coverage.
When a business needs test automation
Automation refers to the most efficient way to do something. If you can automate the process, you can complete it faster. As you know, AI and robots perform multiple tasks much faster than humans.
However, when it comes to quality, test automation isn’t always the best way to create a fantastic product. But at the same time test automation can become a fantastic testing tool. Let’s figure out when a company definitely needs to implement automation.
- When the price is justified. Test automation tools are not cheap, so you should justify their use. As a rule, test automation doesn’t make sense for simple projects. But for complex and long-time projects test automation will save time, effort and money significantly.
- When you use repetitive tests. If you are running the same test over and over again without making changes, it probably makes sense to automate the process.
- When automation saves time. QA is always time consuming. Test automation frees up the time of developers and QA team.
- When the quality will be improved definitely. Automation removes the possibility of human error. For this reason, in some scenarios, the quality can be significantly improved through the use of automation tools.
- When you need to run many tests at the same time. Running the same manual tests at the same time is not easy. Automation performs this task very quickly.
Criteria for automation
Not all tests need automation. First, tests must correspond to certain criteria. Otherwise, automation can be more expensive than manual testing. But one of the key benefits that automation provides is money, manpower and time saving.
Here are basic criteria for selecting test cases for automation:
Repeatability. There is no point to automating a test that you can run only once.
Test cases’ characteristics. First, you should understand whether the test case already has certain outcomes, or whether the functionality is new and flaky. Second, you should estimate the complexity of functions, so the more complex it is, the more likely you should automate it to avoid human error.
Execution time and testing frequency of the test cases. If these components are significant, you should automate these test cases.
The level of user implementation. The higher this level the more unlikely this test should be automated.
Disadvantages of automation don’t outweigh the value. The value here includes time and effort savings, possibility to get reporting and deep analytics. Disadvantages include implementation cost and maintenance cost.
Test automation benefits
Test automation improves the quality of software development and allows you to create better products. Here are the top benefits of test automation.
Time saving and fast release. Thanks to test automation, the team spends less time testing new functionality, so the product enters the market earlier. Automation also allows you to quickly share test results, especially bugs, with other departments and the product owner, determine their causes and, accordingly, quickly fix issues. In addition, employees from different departments will be able to check the logs of automated tests and, if necessary, correct the bugs found.
QA engineers will be able to devote the freed time to work that requires their intellectual participation. For example, they will be able to devote more time to formulating new test cases, carefully analyzing the results of automated tests, and running tests that cannot be automated.
Deep insights. Automated testing provides better insights than manual testing when certain tests fail. Automated software testing not only provides insights into the application, but also provides a number of artifacts. For example, Zebrunner Testing Platform provides videos, screenshots, logs as artifacts, so you can immediately see the reason why the test failed. Artifacts can be added to Jira and other teamwork tools so bugs are fixed faster.
Cost reduction. It comes from reducing the cost of manual testing. Indeed, test automation is not cheap. However, manual testing is more expensive in the long run. Paul Grossman, a senior staff consultant at Technisource, the IT staffing division of Spherion, one of North America’s largest independent providers of IT staffing, solutions, and management services, proves that automated testing has reduced the cost per hour of testing from $78 to $17.54.
Faster feedback. Test automation allows you to run tests quickly and get accurate results in short sprints. This satisfies the need of agile teams for fast, comprehensive, and flawless feedback.
Test automation is especially useful because it allows you to spot failures and bugs early on, which in turn increases team efficiency.
The best test coverage. Manual testing limits the number of tests you can execute. Automation allows you to spend time writing new tests and adding them to an automated test suite. This increases the test coverage of your product, so many functionality can be improved, which will positively affect the quality of the product in general. In addition, automation allows you to write and run the most detailed tests that test the most complex use cases for the product.
Reusing the test suite. Creating an automated test suite is a challenge. But once you build your test suite, you can reuse tests for other use cases or even other projects.
Accuracy. Even the best tester makes mistakes during manual testing. Automation allows you to perform tests with 100% accuracy.
Functionality. An example is the ability to simulate thousands of virtual user interactions with your application to see how it reacts in each case. This cannot be done through manual testing.
How to implement test automation in your project
When you start the transition to test automation, keep the following in mind:
- Don’t try to automate 100% of your tests. Not all tests can be automated.
- Set real goals. Start from automation several tests. Write small test cases that can be easily reused in future tests of the same software. Map test cases to the appropriate features to provide test coverage.
- Explore new application’s areas with automation. Make sure that business requirements are taken into account as well as technical considerations.
- Take into account your budget. You can use open source tools such as Appium (for mobile apps) and Selenium (for web apps).
Launching the test automation process
Step 1. Choose a test automation tool. The tool depends mostly on the technology your application is built on.
Step 2. Determine the scope of automation. The scope of automation is the part of your application that will be automated. The following points help determine the volume:
- functionality that crucially important for business;
- scenarios that have a large amount of data;
- general application functionality;
- degree of reuse of business components;
- complexity of test cases;
- ability to use the same test cases for cross-browser testing.
Step 3. Plan, design, develop. During this phase, you create an automation strategy and plan that contains the following details:
- Choice of automation tools;
- Framework design and functionality;
- Inbound and Outbound Automations;
- Testbed automation preparation;
- Schedule and Timeline of Scripting and Execution;
- Results of test automation.
Step 4. Run tests. During this phase, automated scripts are executed.
Step 5. Maintenance. When new functionality is launched, it is required to check the correctness of its operation and the operation of the entire application.
How to measure the value of test automation
You need to understand what challenges you are trying to address with test automation. For many teams, the main challenge is resource-intensive and time-consuming manual testing. This is especially true for repetitive tests. The QA team spends a lot of time on these tests, but this time could be devoted to more valuable work.
Moreover, tedious, boring and repetitive work increases the risk that testers will miss some significant bug. This bug, in turn, will reduce the quality of the product, which will affect revenues in the longer term.
Furthermore, repetitive tests slow down the release of the product and the release of updates to it. This also means that the competitiveness of the product will decrease.
When you’ve known challenges that test automation can solve, you need to determine the desired state of the project and how test automation can help achieve it.
The desired state can be a combination of the following items:
- high frequency of releases;
- faster lead time;
- improved product quality;
- reducing product defects;
- quick fixes for emerging bugs;
- better test coverage without additional resources;
- job satisfaction of employees;
- customer satisfaction with the product.
And here are some indicators that will help you to measure whether your company has achieved the above goals:
- saved testers’ hours;
- fixed bugs;
- release frequency;
- time to complete tasks;
- customer and employee satisfaction scores.
Test automation can significantly improve the work on products. The main thing here is an understanding of the value of automation for a particular company, a progressive and competent transition to it.