A while ago, I listened to an old podcast featuring Jim Hazen. The gist of the podcast, “it’s automation, not automagic” stayed with me. The software testers reading my article can resonate with this statement. Test automation isn’t an all-in-one, magical solution for your testing and quality control issues. Moreover, the set-up and maintenance of successful test automation implementation require effort and expertise. In this article, I’ll discuss what’s test automation and what it isn’t. I will also discuss the test automation challenges and benefits.

So what’s test automation, when and where it is needed? Let’s explore the answers.

What’s Test Automation?

As we know, there are two main types of testing – manual testing and automated testing. Test automation is the practice of automatically handling testing tasks with test scripts, test data, oracle, and test coverage.

There are both limitations and benefits of automation. For example, automated testing can help immensely in agile methodologies for software product development (DevOps!). However, test automation cannot replace your human resources. 

Test Automation vs Manual Testing

The biggest advantage of automation testing over manual testing is that you can reduce human effort and time. However, it isn’t the replacement of software testers. Though there are research efforts in smart test automation, involving AI-based exploratory and intuitive testing, however, a smart solution in the industry is still not available. The following table gives an overview of test automation vs manual testing on multiple criteria.

 

Criteria Manual Testing  Automated Testing
Test Execution Manual, by QA testers Automated tools and test scripts
Test Coverage Difficult to ensure Easier to ensure higher coverage
Test Efficiency Time taking effort involving more human resources More efficient, reducing time and human effort
Changes/Modification Small UI changes don’t affect the manual testing process Usually, automated test scripts need to be modified due to small changes (such as UI/Environment changes)
Test Report and Documentation The manual effort is required in reporting and documentation Quick and available to all
Parallel Execution and batch testing Batch testing isn’t possible and parallel test execution require more human resources Easily possible with extra human resources
When to Use? Exploratory, Usability, and Adhoc Testing Regular Functional testing, Regression Testing, Performance Testing, Load Testing

Key Objectives of Test Automation

Here are the top test automation goals and objectives:

  • Enhance software testing and quality mechanisms.
  • Reduce redundancy, human effort, time, and costs.
  • Assist in high-quality product delivery.
  • Help agile software development methodologies.
  • Enhance test coverage.

Benefits of Automation Testing

Following are the key benefits of test automation:

Reduce Time and Cost

Test automation can cut the costs and time of your software development process. Due to the many features provided by automated testing tools, you can make the QA process quite swift and effective. Such features include automated report generation, parallel test execution, batch testing, etc. You can run scripts on multiple machines-multiple platforms simultaneously. Furthermore, it is apparent that a test script works faster than a manual tester.

Reduce Manpower

Test automation significantly reduces the human factor. This also helps in cutting costs on hiring and managing human resources. Moreover, most functional and regression and performance testing can be done without human intervention.

Increase Test Coverage

You can enhance test coverage by using an automated testing approach. It is difficult to keep track of test coverage manually. However, automated testing can increase test coverage, ensuring high-quality software.

Test Automation and DevOps

Test automation plays a key role in agile methodologies such as DevOps. Read more about the role of test automation in DevOps here.

You might also be interested in “The role of DevOps in eCommerce business”.

Test Automation Challenges

Dependency on Human

The test automation tools are not autonomous tools. They are not smart or intelligent tools that could replace the human factor. Though we can see efforts in academia in using AI in human-dependent testing (such as exploratory testing). However, the current tools are not replacements for human testers. As James Bach said:

“Automation does not do what testers used to do unless one ignores most things a tester really does. Automated testing is useful for extending the reach of the testers work, not to replace it.”— James Bach

Communication Issues

No matter what level of automation we achieve, communication and collaboration between the testers and developers always remain a huge concern. 

“Also common is the test automation group zombie. This zombie is the practice of assigning test automation to a dedicated team of test automators. The appeal is that we can keep developers focused on writing new code instead of writing and maintaining automated tests. The danger is that test automation inevitably lags development, so feedback from testing is delayed in a way that significantly reduces its value.”— Dale Emery.

Initial Cost and Set-up

Let’s be clear – test automation requires skilled professionals who have the expertise of the testing tools and programming frameworks. It isn’t easy to deploy and maintain an automated testing framework. 

Top Test Automation Tools

Here is the list of a few test automation tools:

Automation_testing_tools

I’m ending this article on a lighter note:

“For an optimist, the glass is half full. To a pessimist, the glass is half empty. For a good tester, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.”— Anonymous

This is a wrap-up. I have discussed the test automation challenges and benefits in detail. In case you need any assistance in test automation or want a helping hand in your project’s quality assurance, contact us today.

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