Test Automation

Apr 12, 2018 by David Sadlon

The topic on the tip of tongues today is test automation. Everyone in the industry understands the benefits, and the efficiencies are also easy to see. Often though, businesses just want to automate everything. After all, once all of your testing is automated, you’ve just reduced testing costs! No need for those pesky manual testers anymore, right? Maybe not, the industry should be asking if ‘full test automation’ is truly the best idea for handling quality assurance processes.

In fact, businesses should strive to automate the right things, not everything. Those ‘right things’ include items that are easily repeatable, high risk areas of the application, and core functionality. There’s also low-hanging fruit that can show quick value with automation – such as data validation, form entry, and field-level validations. And there are tools to ease into a new test automation strategy that are quick to implement, such as BrowserStack to unify your mobile and web experience.

The industry should be asking if ‘full test automation’ is truly the best idea for handling quality assurance processes.

Keep in mind though, that it’s not advisable to just create a test automation framework and then walk away. This work involves creating an entirely new code base... And with that comes additions to any continuous integration already in place. The testing conditions also need to remain stable and high value functionality being tested should be reported on. When it comes down to it, creating functional and efficient test automation is more akin to app dev than it is to other testing processes. It requires regular maintenance, there must be a good architecture and strategy in place, and there needs to be a clear set of goals for what you want to accomplish with test automation.

That said, no one should let this complexity impact their decision to move forward with test automation. The upfront costs may be marginally higher than expected, but the eventual long-term stability of applications pays dividends. Examples include: a reduction in testing timeframes, ease of project planning, faster release cycles, and consistent regression validations. Maybe most importantly though, a robust automated testing suite frees up time for high-value resources to do the deep-digging; such as looking for edge cases and exploring new test strategies.

Businesses should strive to automate the right things, not everything. Those ‘right things’ include items that are easily repeatable, high risk areas of the application, and core functionality.

There’s also low-hanging fruit that can show quick value with automation – such as data validation, form entry, and field-level validations.

Once the basics of a testing suite have been automated, this opens time up to focus on other challenges. Perhaps performance testing has always been a desire, but the QA team for an application has always been tied up in routine testing tasks. Once defined, these performance tests can be automated as well, then it’s on to the next challenge… The end goal being, that there is no end to the possible improvements to QA processes. A solid test approach should be continuously refined and improved.

There are many other ways to accomplish these improvements too. Automating visual regression testing is one such option; this is the ability to test for any styling changes or any changes in the look and feel of a web application based on the platform that it's on. As progressive web apps become more prevalent in the industry, clients are looking for more consistency in the web experience. It is imperative to be able to test across multiple browsers and devices (including mobile). To do this effectively, businesses must leverage third party SaaS (like the aforementioned BrowserStack) to validate multiple devices and operating systems. This prevents the need to stand up multiple desktop environments to accomplish testing and makes automation much less daunting.

All of this in mind, here are some common questions we’re hearing from clients:

  • How do I reduce my testing timeframe?
  • What is the upfront cost of test automation?
  • How many times should I be deploying per year?
  • How many tests should I have to cover my code base?
  • How much could I save on testing with automation?
There is no end to the possible improvements to QA processes. A solid test approach should be continuously refined and improved.

Though each situation is different and dependent on your business, HMB can help answer these questions and more. We have a team dedicated to showing solid ROI of automated testing based on the number of runs against a previous baseline.

Interview conducted by Jared Starner