Our world today belongs to software…and organizations are pushing the boundaries to deliver software products that are of ever-higher quality. Can you imagine using a slow, bug-prone application in today’s age? Owing to the need for robust and reliable applications, product development and testing have forged a strong relationship. As the focus has shifted to the speed of development, test automation has emerged as the great enabler of efficiencies and an invaluable contributor to developing error-free and reliable software products. Today development methodologies such as DevOps and Agile have become the staple in the development landscape. And with it, the role of test automation has only grown.
While test automation has become a “must do”, the reality is that almost 64% of the time test automation initiatives fail to deliver on their promise. This is down to unrealistic expectations, a one-size-fits-all approach, and the difficulty of managing tests, amongst other reasons. Test automation is not a magic bullet that can automatically redefine your testing process and make it flawless. Automation initiatives require careful planning and a lot of commitment to drive the success of a product. Here’s a look at a few points of consideration when embarking on a test automation initiative that has a greater chance of succeeding.
1. Test Automation projects are software development projects
Don’t treat your test automation initiative as the step-child. Not treating test automation initiatives as software product development projects is a recipe for disaster. Automated test code has to be written with the same amount of precision as any production code. This code determines the efficiency with which your tests will be run. Understanding the scope of the project, the product under development, issues that it has to address, the business demands, the user profiles etc. become important, to write and develop code that can thoroughly test a product.
2. Not all automation candidates are created equal
Some test cases lend themselves well to test automation, while others are best done manually. Knowing what to test, is important when you choose to embrace test automation. While the ultimate objective of testing is to deliver the highest quality software, automating everything is not only expensive and time-consuming but also unrealistic. Testing areas such as usability testing, user testing etc. that need deeper exploration are,possibly, best conducted manually. Repeatable and concurrent tests that are high in volume and time-consuming such as regression testing, performance testing etc. lend themselves well to automation. So selecting the right candidates for automation is essential to drive the success of any automation effort.
3. Focus on test design
Development methodologies such as DevOps now place testing in the heart of development. It thus becomes essential to ensure that while embarking on the test automation journey, testers aim for maximum code coverage to ensure that all code components and functionalities operate as planned. To do so, testers should pay close attention to the test design. They must ensure that the test design focuses on components that have a high user and business impact. Taking into consideration the functional and non-functional requirements of the software, and discussing these with the development teams is an important action item. Achieving maximum code coverage, ensuring that test cases not only test boundary considerations but also test the code coverage that implements the requirement thoroughly are important points to consider. The moral of the story is – great test design ensures maximum code coverage in the shortest frame of time with the least possible effort.
4. Keep product evolution in mind
Software products today are built for change. Test automation suites thus have to be designed for the same. The ROI of test automation initiatives depends on their maintainability. Given the need for frequent product upgrades and iterations, it makes sense to pay close attention to test maintainability right from the onset of the test automation initiative. Designing reusable test cases and test plans, building smaller and independent test cases, and designing test suits that allow change are a good way to move ahead. It also helps to pay close attention to test data to identify which test cases can be used in other environments, identifying the maintenance needs of the test suites etc. are important points of consideration when developing a test automation initiative.
5. Testing and development have to be integrated
Test automation aims to increase the speed of development, provide greater code coverage, and assists in maintain projects timelines. To achieve this, testing has to be integrated into the software development process. It is imperative to be ready with all (or most) the test automation components before the development process starts, to ensure that the final product matches the user expectations.
Finally, test your test automation code thoroughly as this will determine the success of your test automation initiative and that the test code becomes an asset for future use. When it comes to testing automation, remember that “Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of intelligent effort”. With test automation, this intelligent effort has to start from the word ‘go’.