10 Tips to Get Started with Automated Testing

Deeper and wider test coverage enabled by test automation increases testing’s value and leads to improved software product quality. However, test automation is often misunderstood or misapplied, which can create more problems than it solves. To ensure that introducing test automation to your software development process goes smoothly take note of the following tips.

1 – Identify Tests That Benefit Most from Automation

  • Repetitive tests such as regression tests
  • Tests subject to human error such as manual interface tests
  • Data-driven tests that utilize multiple data sets
  • Configuration tests run over many OS or hardware platforms
  • Testing load and performance by a large number of simultaneous users

2 – Avoid Situations Where Test Automation Is Least Effective

  • When project requirements are still in flux, which leads to frequent re-coding
  • User experience testing except to the extent that test platforms are automatically reset
  • UI testing where UI component identification is not standardized
  • Unit testing when the test framework does not integrate with developer IDEs
  • When the value of tests in terms of defect risk or reusability cannot be measured

3 – Avoid Mixing Manual and Automated Test Teams

Test automation requires some specific skills not required of manual testers. Effective test automation teams often require a skill level equal to that of the developers. Oversight by a test automation architect is also invaluable.

4 – Do Not Use Automation to Speed up Product Delivery

Automation allows tests to be run faster, but the saved time should be directed toward more thorough testing for high risk or high value defects. Rarely does automation improve time-to-market for a given set of development resources, but it does improve the software’s stability, reliability, usefulness and value.

5 – Do Not Force Feed Automation

Especially if your software development process is new to test automation or uses it in a limited way, apply it gradually or to small projects to work out the kinks. If developers and testers perceive that test automation is being hammered into place, it is likely to receive substantial negative feedback and its effectiveness will be undermined.

6 – Automate Beyond the Test Team

Once the value of test automation is understood, additional automation opportunities should be identified, especially within development teams. For instance, a test framework may enable unit testing directly within existing developer IDEs that ties into test teams’ defect reporting systems. Opportunities to automate collaboration between testers and coders should be capitalized upon too.

6 – Automation Does Not Fix Poor Test Design

Test design must take into consideration all the areas of testing to be performed, but it should also identify high risk areas or other specific areas where test automation would add the most value rather than leaving such decisions to be made ad hoc once development is in later stages.

7 – Do Not Let Automation Create More Work Than It Saves

If you over-automate or fail to maintain automation processes, then you create unnecessary overhead. Tests become irrelevant over time as software requirements evolve, features are deprecated or platforms become obsolete. Test value is something that needs to be regularly evaluated and used to purge ineffective test suites.

8 – Automate When You Are Bored

Anytime a tester has mastered a suite of manual tests to the point where he or she begins daydreaming at the console, there is very likely a test automation opportunity. That opportunity to automate often falls victim to short-term demands on time. Thus, test teams must be instilled with a cultural expectation for them to prioritize automation versus repetition.

9 – Account for the Costs of Automation

Sometimes, test automation is only applied for automation’s sake. There may be tests that are amenable to automation, but their expiration date, scope or value may not justify the amount of time or resources required to automate them. In short, the cost of setting up the automation might be equal to or greater than what it costs to perform the tests manually.

10 – Automation Cannot Fix a Broken QA Process

When an organization’s QA/Testing organization has trouble meeting concrete goals, does not have adequate staffing or skill or fails to follow best practices, there is nothing that automation can do to correct these deficiencies. In such environments, it is more likely that applying automation will simply arrive at a bad result faster.

 

Before putting effort into test automation, be sure that you have identified the quantitative, measurable results you hope to achieve and that the deployment effort is understood and acceptable to both testers and developers. Clearly comprehend what types of testing benefit most from automation and instill a mindset that seeks out any area that can benefit from automation based on that comprehension.