Software testing is an essential part of the software development life cycle for several reasons. Testing helps to guarantee reliable, high-quality applications and it reduces risks. It also helps make apps easier to use. With the growing demand for software testing, innovations have been developed to further enhance these processes.
There seems to be an ongoing debate between manual testing and test automation. Manual testing may be perceived as anachronistic in such a fast-moving industry, but this is actually far from the truth. What people need to know is that each has its own advantages and disadvantages and it is important to judge each testing approach on its own merits.
This article aims to focus on test automation and it discusses the following points:
What is test automation?
What are the benefits of shifting to automation?
How are automated tests best managed?
A clear understanding of these items can help you decide if test automation is the right testing approach to implement.
What Is Test Automation?
Test automation is a software testing approach that utilizes tools to execute tests with the goal of improving the speed, efficiency, accuracy, and coverage of your QA testing. When integrated into test case management tools, which allow QA teams to manage test environments, customize reporting, and real-time monitoring, automating tests can significantly cut down a company’s time to market.
Instead of manually trying out different input combinations, recording results, and making comparisons against expected behaviors, an automated tool executes scripts to run the tests and compare results versus expected behaviors.
Test plans and codes are written ahead of testing. These are the sections included in a test plan:
- Test strategy
- Roles and responsibilities
- Test data
Tests that Should Be Automated
Should all tests be automated?
At this time, experts agree that not all tests should be automated. This is why companies opt for a blended approach – a combination of manual and automated testing throughout the software testing cycle.
The interest in test automation is in testing the trends and benchmarks. This thus helps check stability and certification across various platforms. The strength in manual testing lies in its ability to get direct results and is thus good for explorations and evaluations.
There are tests that are best done manually, such as those that require user insights. An example is when testers evaluate the usability of an application and will thus need to identify the areas that the end-users find difficult to navigate or control. Automation testing also cannot effectively capture user inputs on the visual design elements of the application.
Experts have identified tests that work best when automated:
- Tests that will be repeated multiple times in a test cycle
- Testing that requires a high number of test cases
- Test cases with high-risk conditions
- Test cases that need to be constantly updated
- Test cases that are executed concurrently
- Test cases that have multiple data sets
- High-volume regression testing
Benefits of Test Automation
Test automation helps companies save money in the long run by minimizing costs for tests that need to be performed repeatedly.
- Shorter time to market
Test automation allows teams to finish full test cycles in minutes or hours. In comparison, it may take manual testing many hours or days to complete the same test cycles. This gives companies a shorter time to market.
- Consistency and reliability in results
Running the same or similar test scripts across different variables and platforms assures consistency in the testing process and the results. Automated testing can test up to the smallest units, making it a more reliable approach.
- Prevents human errors and improves accuracy
Manual testing is prone to human errors, such as incorrect data entry inputs, which may lead to inaccurate results. Because machines run automated tests, human errors are prevented.
- Test and application scalability
Test automation allows test and application scalability because you can reuse test scripts that took you a long time to create. Having to manually create test scripts from scratch every time can be tedious and time-consuming.
- Improve productivity
With the decreased need for human intervention, the QA testing team can be assigned other roles for improved team productivity.
- Increased test coverage
Automated testing allows testers to exercise as much of the code when running the test cases. This exposes defects and gaps in the requirements and test cases at the earlier stage.
Maximizing Test Automation
- Determine the scope of automation in detail before starting with the project so that you can select the best tool to use.
- Invest in automation tools that best suit your objectives and project requirements. While some of these tools can manage the testing process, they may not be the best ones to use because their focus is on running tests. This is why many companies invest in and integrate their automation tools into test case management tools. Make sure to have an add-in that supports Application Under Test (AUT), as well.
- Use the framework best suited for your project
- Ensure tool training and process expertise. Compared to manual testing, automated testing requires programming skills. It works best when testers and developers work together for automation testing, the latter being the code-review experts.
- Monitor and establish open communication internally and, if needed, externally. Test case management tools can help in this aspect through customized report generation. The closer the testing process happens to the development stage, the better. For the team to achieve this, proper monitoring and communication are imperative.
It is important to understand the differences between manual and automated testing so you can leverage the strengths of both to achieve project objectives at the optimal level. A thorough understanding of both testing approaches can also help with budget and manpower planning. The shift to automated testing may entail costs at the onset but many companies have experienced its many benefits in exchange.