software testing

Test Automation 101

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Every company is a digital company. Whether you are a traditional e-commerce company who has been selling goods online for years, a healthcare company who recently needed to accelerate online visits for telehealth, or a company whose business model has drastically shifted due to Covid, the need for digital transformation is here.

Chapter 1 of our eBook The Future of Test Automation goes over why we need to deliver software to our customers faster, requiring changes to the ways we have historically built software. In today’s world, competition is fierce, and customers do not have the loyalty to wait for you. Fundamental changes to the development process are required – continuing to use the Waterfall methodology introduces inefficiencies to your delivery cycle. This approach leads to bottlenecks, delays, and stifles innovation. You may be surprised to hear that in 2020, we found that 21% of organizations surveyed in our Third Annual Software Testing Survey were still using the Waterfall approach.

Moving to an Agile or Dev/Ops methodology with more frequent releases will allow you to receive continuous and timely feedback of your product. This requires that quality is injected at every stage of the development cycle, so you can get the necessary data and react accordingly. This additionally enables the developers to be more quality driven without the cumbersome process and tools. The outcome is faster delivery, money saved, and delivering product with predictable levels of quality.

Why Test Automation? 

One way to introduce efficiencies to your software testing process is with test automation. Many organizations will introduce test automation to alleviate some of the tedious and time-consuming aspects of manual testing. This saves time and effort for developers, which then makes it easier for them to innovative the functionality and performance of an application.

Of course, test automation does not eliminate the need for manual testing. Many organizations will continue to manually test new features or new test cases that have not yet been automated, before it becomes automated. Additionally, certain types of tests will always need to be performed manually.  Let’s take exploratory testing. Exploratory testing finds defects that have not been addressed through existing test cases. Like how test automation saves time and effort for developers, automating tests for core functionality in your applications will free up time that manual testers can devote toward additional exploratory testing, enhancing the quality of your application. Understanding this, test automation could very well yield better manual testing.

It Comes Down to Quality 

Chapter 5 of our eBook The Future of Test Automation reviews the core quality principles that organizations should keep in mind as they go through their digital transformation. It’s not enough to accelerate your testing and finish the QA process. The entire organization must rethink the way they approach quality. The fundamental realization that most organizations come to is that quality is a shared responsibility. Everyone in the organization – from Development, to Product Management, to DevOps, and of course QA, needs to embrace a quality mindset, and test automation is a key element to that strategy.

In the eBook we go into the Core Quality Principles that should guide any tooling you use to aid in your digital transformation:

  1. User-Centric – Focused on the Job-Executor
  2. Frictionless – Easy to Try, Buy and Adopt
  3. Balanced – Users, Teams and the Enterprise
  4. Collaborative – Enabling better processes and teamwork
  5. Open – Standards-based interoperability

Test Automation Challenges

Among the risks involved in test automation is the need for version control and long-term maintenance of test scripts and test results. This can be problematic when you attempt to automate testing too early in the development cycle. Relying on poorly designed or maintained test scripts can lead to your entire automation testing process being rejected by developers and testers. This risk doesn’t outweigh the benefits of test automation, especially if your teams are using the appropriate automated testing tools and/or frameworks.

UI tests are also inherently brittle. Automated tests often fail because properties of objects change frequently, and tests are tightly bound to these object properties. Our internal data shows that 75% of tests fail because of object defect detection. This results in many hours wasted on test maintenance, preventing you from seeing the full value of test automation.

Investing in tools that help with test maintenance will counteract these challenges. Some tools come with capabilities can automatically identify unexpected errors due to dynamic properties and recommend an alternative. This prevents tests from failing and gives the opportunity to accept the fix after test execution, saving time and effort reviewing failures. The AI-powered self-healing capability within TestComplete yields a 95% success rate.

Benefits and ROI of Test Automation 

I’ve talked about increasing efficiency of development and QA teams, allowing them to focus on higher value tasks. Additionally, test automation can increase the depth and scope of your UI tests to help improve overall software quality. Improving quality before product release decreases the need for bug fixes after release, which saves you a lot of money.

In addition to increased test coverage yielding higher quality product, automating your UI tests will undoubtedly increase your speed to delivery by shortening testing cycles. One SmartBear customer was able to reduce testing time on some of their apps from four months to three weeks by automating their UI tests with TestComplete. By reducing the time to market of your application, you can innovate quicker, staying ahead of competitive threats and delighting your customers.

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UI test automation is a great way to reduce your testing cycles while increasing overall quality in your application.  Request a free trial of TestComplete today.