Adopting Automation is Essential for Growth

Marina Lucier Marina Lucier
minute read
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Why industry leaders are investing in automated testing.

How much automated testing does your team do today?

In today’s fast-paced digital landscape, it is increasingly difficult to continuously release high-quality software and keep up with high customer expectations. It’s no surprise then that 60% of QA professionals at B2C companies are worried about their level of code coverage, according to Applause research.

Organizations recognize that increased test automation is key to achieving higher test coverage. Nearly three-quarters of organizations want to use test automation for 25% to 50% of their testing, according to the European Software Testing Benchmark Report. It’s an industry.

But what exactly can test automation do for your organization? Here are a few examples, as well as some advice on how to balance test automation with manual testing.

Why you need test automation

Test automation provides scalable, reliable and repeatable results. More importantly, test automation enables you to test a broader spectrum of code and enables you to test this code across multiple platforms and environments. This is done by rapidly validating quality every time a change is made to code, with minimal manual intervention. Done properly, test automation can also verify production integrity and provide the right value without breaking the bank.

Test automation helps your QA team maintain an Agile development cadence necessary to make rapid iterations to your product build, which means you can release more code faster, enabling you to better compete and differentiate your product in the market. It’s also a big step to move towards continuous deployment.

Where to introduce automated testing

Your test maturity will help you identify the best areas to focus on and which to keep manual. The right planning will ensure proper coverage and minimal risk.

As your test automation strategy matures, you can verify changes within your application faster. This enables you to validate the application faster and potentially decrease your time to market. By automating the right test cases, you can focus exploratory and manual test cases on the most critical and complex parts of your code.

60% of QA professionals are concerned about code coverage.

Automation is not a silver bullet solution

Despite its strengths, automation can’t solve all your testing needs. Consumers use software in unexpected ways. Authentic human ingenuity, creativity and expectations are needed to discover bugs that automated testing scripts cannot.

Automated test cases are built on the success criteria established by the product owner and scrum teams. But the success criteria can’t possibly define every single possible outcome. Even if it did, it would be time- and cost-prohibitive. At the end of the day, automation can’t possibly predict all the ways that your end-users will ultimately use your product. This is why a blended strategy of manual and automated testing is necessary.

Automation and Manual Testing: Striking the Right Balance

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Evaluating your functional maturity

Before you fully implement automation into your delivery pipeline, it’s important to understand where you stand as a team with your manual functional testing capabilities. Hold off on introducing automation into your delivery pipeline until you feel comfortable with the scope and repeatability of your manual testing.

It is critical that you establish a repeatable manual documented process prior to implementing any automation practice. Without a stable and repeatable environment, automation will only amplify your current issues.

To start, focus on exploratory testing and manual test case execution, then look towards automation for those repeatable test cases. As you mature, the percentage of automated testing will naturally continue to grow. With that said, manual and exploratory testing should remain a central piece of your overall strategy and continue to identify critical bugs.

Automated testing becomes more important for organizations as they mature and look to release software faster.

When to focus on manual testing

As mentioned earlier, consumers use software in unexpected ways which developers and testers can’t account for upfront. Think of scenarios like transitioning from Wi-Fi to cellular data, or using location-based services on a moving train. There are countless real-world scenarios like these that are not replicable through automation and require manual testing to identify.

Leave those less-repeatable scenarios to your manual testers. If you try to cover these test cases with automation, you waste valuable time and could unnecessarily amplify non-critical issues. Just because it’s technically possible to automate a test doesn’t mean it’s the most cost-effective or efficient way to perform testing — manual testing is sometimes the better way to go.

Ultimately, automated tests should serve as an opportunity for your manual testers to refocus on high-value exploratory efforts, such as test case architecture, coverage, risk analysis, customer experience and other manual non-functional testing. Since customer experience is often a top priority, this is your opportunity to use manual testing to explore beyond functionality and dive into the design and user flow.

Balancing testing methods

Here are four benefits of finding the right balance between manual and automation testing:

1. Higher Quality Test Execution

Allowing humans and machines to focus on their core competencies drives operating expense efficiencies and optimizes your entire QA operation. In addition, one automated test can run on numerous device configurations, quickly maximizing your coverage and reducing your risk.

2. Faster Time to Market

When implemented correctly, test automation increases your release velocity, effectively bringing new features and app updates to market at a pace your consumers can appreciate.

3. Improved Employee Satisfaction and Retention

By removing tedious work from your testers’ day-to-day responsibilities, you enable them to focus on more strategic testing and broader company/customer needs.

4. Increased Customer Loyalty

Effectively applying automated and manual testing across the SDLC results in improved product stability. This results in a deeper level of consumer trust and ultimately a higher level of app usage.

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