There is a lot of hype that surrounds automation testing. Not only does it minimize test creation time and run time, but test automation can also ensure that testers are working on tasks that require more careful attention. Not only is this more productive, but testers can also find their work less repetitive and more enjoyable.
While automation testing definitely has the potential to greatly improve software testing as we know it, automation isn’t a be-all-end-all solution to your testing issues. There is no such thing as 100% test automation, and companies that try to do this will find themselves faced with larger costs and problems down the line.
To make the most of test automation, it is important to consider the appropriate scenarios for when it can make a positive impact. Below you will find some of the top use cases for automation testing, which we hope will help when you’re looking to incorporate it into your manual testing operations.
Regression testing is one major area where test automation can help, especially in an agile environment. As companies are looking to do more code releases to provide better user experiences, regression testing ensures that changes in code do not affect previously created test scenarios. This is critical, as it would be counterproductive to make improvements to one application feature just to have older features fail in the process.
Yet with the ever-increasing number of releases, it’s also become important for companies to shorten release cycles to meet their business needs. Due to this software testing “need for speed,” regression testing can often feel like a QA bottleneck.
Test automation bridges this gap, allowing testers to maintain their high-quality work while keeping up with shorter release cycles. Instead of spending time worrying about and checking old code, automation testing reviews this automatically and ensures that everything is working as it should after a new release. Testers can then rededicate their time to focusing on creating more complex test scenarios for future web application improvements.
Increase Test Coverage
In addition to regression testing, QA teams are looking to test as many elements of their web applications as possible. Yet manual testing does not offer the option to test at scale, leading them to neglect possible area where testing is especially important.
With automation testing, QA has the power to execute hundreds or thousands of test scenarios during each test run. These tests can span different browsers and configurations, and all happen simultaneously. The coverage that you can achieve from manual testers absolutely pales in comparison.
Not only does automation allow for more test coverage in terms of quantity, but it helps increase test coverage in terms of quality as well. Depending on the tool you select, your test automation can also handle more complex test case scenarios and work with components such as iFrames and ‘if’ conditions. When you consider test coverage both in terms of quantity and quality, investing in test automation can bring in an even larger return on investment.
Codeless test automation offers even more benefits when it comes to testing coverage. Instead of turning to developers (or testers with the relevant coding skills) to script tests, testers of all levels can author the initial versions of these scripts visually. QA teams can then add these tests easily to the CI toolchain for continuous testing, giving them more time to focus on the tests that they do not wish to automate. This increases test coverage by simplifying the test creation process.
Testing Early in Production
Another area where automation testing can help is when a company is looking to “shift left”, or test as early as possible in the software development lifecycle (SDLC). This can help with many areas of product development, including catching bugs earlier and preventing future defects.
This not only applies to the first launch of a product but also at the early stages of product component development. According to IBM Security, vulnerabilities cost $80 on average to fix if they’re found early in development, as opposed to $7600 if they’re found during production1. This shows that testing early in production not only a technical best practice but also a financial one. The earlier you find a defect, the easier and more cost-effective it is to fix.
Automation testing makes this process even easier by integrating with notification platforms such as text, e-mail or Slack. Not only can you run these critical tests to catch bugs early in the SDLC, but you can also find out about them as quickly as possible in a way that integrates easily with the rest of your testing environment. This ensures that all the relevant people on your team are kept up to date regarding these issues, and allows you to resolve them more efficiently.
Reduce Software Testing Cost and Time Consumption
With the increased focus on speed of delivery, testers can’t afford to be the reason that software development is slowing down. Incorporating automation testing at times when you have calculated that it will reduce your overall cost and time spent will prevent this from happening.
The question you should then ask yourself is, “How do we determine if test automation is reducing my overall costs?” Here are a few points to consider:
Automation testing can be especially helpful for large projects, or for tests that you expect to run for a long time. For these types of projects, test automation can help reduce the number of resources you need, thereby reducing costs in the long run.
According to test consultancy Abstracta, automated tests run on average five times faster than manual tests2. For automated tests that cover multiple browsers and versions, it can also help execute a larger amount of tests relative to the cost of test setup and maintenance.
One of the major obstacles that stand in the way of integrating QA into software development is the amount of time spent on test maintenance. This can become a major drain in terms of time, and will ultimately cost the company as a whole if test maintenance prevents QA from keeping up with shorter releases.
When considering automation testing, it’s important to think about how much time testers will spend doing test maintenance. Investing in a codeless test automation tool can reduce this amount of time tremendously when they offer AI-based maintenance. By automatically modifying tests to overcome changes in the application, these machine learning features allow testers to spend time building and running new test scenarios instead of maintaining existing ones. Companies who use automation testing in these cases can shorten their release cycles dramatically while maintaining (or even reducing) their existing resources.
Amount of Data Being Tested
In addition to large projects, automation testing can also reduce time and costs when you are working with a large amount of data for your tests. This is especially important in the age of personalizing user experiences across a range of industries.
As an example, a login feature is probably one of the most basic, but also the most essential elements to test on a regular basis. Yet to make sure that this works, you need to use a large amount of data to test different permutations of the login information. In addition, you need to also consider that you will need to test this data on different browsers and work environments. For this and other data-driven testing initiatives, automation testing can reduce major time-related costs.
Test Automation Leads to Testing Innovation
Automation testing can help in a variety of ways, but each of the use cases discussed above all fall under one major theme. When automation testing is applied to the more menial and repetitive aspects of software testing, that is where it can make the most positive impact.
Adopting test automation can seem scary at first, especially for manual testers who will fear that automation will make their jobs obsolete. Yet these use cases show that automation testing does the exact opposite, and merely takes away the tasks that are time-consuming and an overall drain on productivity. When applied correctly, test automation will give QA teams the time and resources necessary to take their testing efforts to the next level.