Automation testing has grown in popularity in recent years as a key enabler of continuous delivery and agile software development. The approach is believed to increase efficiency, improve quality, and reduce development and testing time.
Well, not all pilot automation projects can deliver the expected success and ROI. Despite its widespread adoption across industries, only a few organizations have been able to fully utilize the benefits of test automation. In fact, test automation fails to meet expectations 64% of the time, according to Cigniti.
Clearly, developing automation for testing is not an easy road. It takes time, a well-thought-out strategy, and dedication to maximize testing efforts.
In the following section, let’s explore some considerations that will help you get the most out of your test automation investment.
Define the scope of test automation
The first and foremost thing when starting an automation initiative is to determine the appropriate test scenarios for automation. Without a comprehensive automation feasibility analysis, there is a risk of automating test scenarios that cannot be executed during subsequent test cycles, which can hinder the intended results of the project.
It is important to consider various factors such as functional characteristics of the application under test, environment, hardware dependencies, potential impacts and more when deciding what to automate.
Here is a simple but effective framework that can help us identify:
- Whether the test case should be automated or not (Automation Scope)
- The order in which test cases should be selected for automation (Priority Order)
This 2×2 matrix ranks the test cases based on two factors:
- Business criticality (x axis)
- Frequency of execution during the software life cycle (y-axis)
For each test case, ask yourself the following questions:
- What is the business criticality of the test case?
- What is the frequency of test case execution during the product life cycle?
Based on the answers to these two questions, which should be either “High” or “Low”, we will classify the test cases into one of the four quadrants depicted in the 2×2 matrix above. We will eventually have four sets of test cases assigned to four quadrants as follows:
- Quadrant 1 – High Business Criticality and High Repeatability – Test cases falling in this quadrant will generate the most significant positive ROI for automation and benefits.
- Quarter 2: low business criticality and high repeatability. test cases in this quarter will offer a positive ROI for automation, but the business impact of automation will be minimal.
- Quarter 3. High business criticality and low repetition. test cases in this quadrant will give us a low automation ROI and can be saved as manual regression test cases or should be completed after the previous two cases.
- Quarter 4: low business criticality and low repetition. test cases in this quadrant will result in a negative ROI and should not be included in an automation or manual regression suite.
Emphasis on test design
Focusing on proper test design is critical to maximizing the ROI of test automation. Effective test design should aim to achieve comprehensive code coverage with a minimum number of tests in a short period of time.
Once the automation framework is established, you should review all functional and non-functional requirements of the software to ensure maximum test coverage. This includes creating comprehensive test cases to identify expected test execution time and potential defects. Furthermore, this process can help identify additional scenarios and workflows that may otherwise be overlooked and can be automated.
Select the appropriate automation framework
An automation framework offers a set of guidelines, protocols, rules, and standards for automation testing. By adhering to these guidelines, a team can increase test speed and efficiency, improve test accuracy, reduce test maintenance costs, and reduce risk.
A practice test automation framework should be able to:
- Ensure consistency in testing
- Improve test structure through refactoring
- Use minimal code
- Less code maintenance required
- Improve reusability of test scripts
- Allow non-technical testers to be involved in the code
- Reduce training time to use test scripts
- Include static or dynamic data as needed
High quality test data
As software development methodologies have evolved to prioritize faster and more frequent releases, access to high-quality test data has become incredibly important. The data size should be optimal and contain all the relevant information and components needed for the specific application being tested. Additionally, different data sets should be sorted and labeled according to their relevance, such as valid or invalid data and boundary conditions. Periodic evaluation and updating of data is important to avoid using outdated test data and to keep it valid for testing purposes.
It is important to consider the evolution of the product to guarantee the longevity of the automation solution. Given the need for frequent product iterations and updates, enterprises should use a test automation tool that includes reusable test cases and test plans with smaller and self-contained test cases that replace a monolithic test architecture. Creating test suites that allow for periodic changes is vital to regularly exploring test suite maintenance requirements.
Implementation of test automation
The success of automation testing is highly dependent on the continuous execution of automation scripts by the functional testing team. To accurately evaluate the effectiveness of these scenarios, the team must possess functional knowledge.
There’s no point in producing lots of scripts if they can’t catch critical system bugs. Therefore, investments in training and skill development are necessary to increase the effectiveness of your automation testing efforts, regardless of the automated testing tool you adopt.
By providing the testing team with the necessary training and skills, businesses can ensure that their automation testing efforts produce accurate results. This not only improves the quality of the software product, but also saves time and money in the long run.
Automating testing brings enormous benefits to businesses, from speeding up development time to increasing software quality. However, companies are unlikely to maximize ROI from their automation testing efforts without the right approaches and practices in place.
Effective automation testing involves consideration of factors such as test design, scope, data, frameworks, maintenance, and training. By carefully addressing these factors, businesses can improve the effectiveness of their automation testing projects.
If you’re thinking about switching to test automation but still don’t know where to start, expert help can be valuable. With over 13 years of experience, our experts have the skills and experience needed to help you develop effective strategies tailored to your business, reducing the risk of automation failure.