Are You Ready for Test Automation?
To help guide your first steps on your test automation journey, here are some top pointers on getting started.
Making the decision to automate your manual testing can be a tough call. So, how did legal firms that have already automated their testing determine that it was the right thing to do?
TJ Johnson, Qualitest’s associate vice president and legal sector strategist answers this question in her latest article for Peer to Peer, the International Legal Technology Association’s quarterly magazine. Weighing up the pros and cons of automation, TJ talks about what you should automate, how much you should automate and whether you should use an outside organization – guess what, we think you should!
To help guide your first steps on your test automation journey, here are some of TJ’s top pointers on getting started.
Test automation fallacies
There are many misconceptions around automating testing, these include:
- Automated testing tools guarantee improved software quality.
- Every type of application is suitable for automated testing.
- Automating testing is all or nothing, there’s no middle ground.
- Automated tests simply clone manual tests.
- Automated testing gets rid of the need for manual testing.
Test automation truths
- Improved quality software is not guaranteed, as testing automation only tests what you ask it to.
- High initial investment is a must and ROI is a long game.
- Continuous investment and maintenance are a must.
- You’re also going to need upfront skills and training.
- You can automate as much or as little as you want.
- You’re still going to need to perform some manual tests.
What testing processes should we automate?
Automated testing is about predictability, repeatability and verifying expected behaviors. This makes it best suited to regression or functional testing involving processes that need to be performed multiple times.
As humans are inherently unpredictable – ask your friendly technical support team just how unpredictable when it comes to software – some manual testing is still required. This typically covers user acceptance testing, exploratory testing and test cases where only human intervention will do.
What are the benefits of test automation?
That said, you can reap huge rewards from automating your testing, making gains across speed, time, coverage, accuracy and insights.
- More Speed
Test automation can race through lengthy test scripts unsupervised and off-hours – including overnight – to give you continuous coverage. As tests are repeatable, this also ensures faster testing of multiple builds across multiple test environments. By contrast, manual testing can only run as fast as the team are physically able to perform the tests.
- Less Time
Automated testing frees up your team for higher value quality activities, such as digging deeper into the severity and priority of defects. After the initial time investment, it’s also straightforward to repurpose automated test cases for other projects, which again, saves you time.
- Increased Test Coverage
Automated testing increases the number of tests you can verify and solves the challenge of rapid development cycles. This boosts your quality engineering processes by helping you to fully embrace DevOps and Agile methodologies.
- Greater Accuracy
Automated testing performs the same test the same way every time, so fewer mistakes are likely. Manual testers are fallible and can interpret test scripts inconsistently, especially when testing an unfamiliar system.
- Intelligent Insights
Automated test results afford real-time reporting and analysis of application challenges, giving your team a head start in finding root causes for failures, querying other systems and triaging defects.
What are the practical challenges of test automation?
Test automation comes with a hefty initial outlay for you to think about. This encompasses:
- Tools – purchase and licensing costs
- Time – defining approach, strategy, implementation and execution
- People – skills, training and maintenance
- Equipment – infrastructure or device costs for mobile testing
Good planning and continued investment are also required, as for every application and system update automated tests must be reviewed and updated. Other practical challenges arise around how stable your current testing environments are and how well they will stand up to the increased load from automated tests.
Automated tests also come with a warning around developing a false sense of security, as they only validate at the end of each test rather than look at each step like a human. Lastly, as testware is still software, you will need to understand coding principles.
What questions should we ask before we automate?
Automating testing is not simply a matter of duplicating existing manual test cases, you need to know what you are testing for and go back to quality assurance fundamentals. As TJ puts it, “Know your business problem, write requirements to solve that business problem.”
This raises challenges internally around people’s expectations of automated testing as an instant magic fix, which you know it’s not. So, it’s worth managing conversations within your organization around what realistically can be achieved and in what timeframe.
If you’re automating testing internally, you will also need a whole heap of organizational support, including from senior leadership. How easy will it be for you to secure this?
Finally, the whole team needs be involved in discussions about what should and shouldn’t be automated; getting the right infrastructure in place; and setting objectives, targets, goals, scope, and timeframe. Can you get your team onboard with all of this?
Your next steps
Automating testing yourself can’t fix existing problems that stem from poor internal testing practice. This brings us back to whether you should automate testing yourself or turn to external managed automated services that will handle everything for you.
Only you can make this call, as there are numerous areas to review and consider when starting a test automation journey. However, TJ and her team are here to help you work through this evaluation, so get in touch.
We can also manage all your automated testing for you, bringing in a comprehensive suite of quality testing staff, services and tools to get the results you need. This includes developing a test automation strategy using Qualitest’s intelligent automation frameworks, which minimize risks while focusing on the right interfaces for testing.