QA Lounge

The Proper Role of Test Automation

Brian Rock • February 13, 2018

As more and more organizations have been adopting agile development to keep up with the increasing customers expectations, there has been an 85% increase in test automation over the past two years.

The reason? Automated testing has emerged as the premier way to manage the increasing pressure for fast results that is being put on QA teams.

The effectiveness of automated testing comes from its ability to produce reliable, repeatable results. When properly implemented, you can validate a digital property’s level of quality anytime there is a code deployment or infrastructure change in minimal time and with minimal manual intervention.

Test automation is not a silver bullet, though. Automating everything in your QA process will prove to be ineffective, and when all is said and done, it will lead to a minimal return on your investment in automated testing.

When automated testing is most appropriate

Well-crafted automation tests can provide verification that an application’s key user flows are working as expected. However, automated tests by themselves are insufficient to provide a complete picture of an applications quality level. Manual verification cycles, in conjunction with automated testing, can provide this complete picture.

These are some recommended areas to start automating initially: - Unit tests - APIs/Web Services - UI smoke tests - Full UI regression tests

The best time to begin planning your automated test cases is during the Requirement Analysis and Design Phases of the SDLC. Planning them out during this phase will enable you to implement them more quickly and start realizing value from them earlier as soon as the application is ready to test.

The importance of complementing test automation with manual testing

If you rely solely on automated testing for QA, testers that write the automated testing scripts must have the foresight to anticipate any and all use cases that could potentially come into play after release.

Not only is this level of insight nearly impossible to achieve, but it also requires a tremendous amount of time to write out automated testing scripts for all of the edge use cases that span outside of an app or website’s “happy path.”

By the time you’ve put all of the time and energy into getting these scripts written, the return you’re getting from automated testing is no longer worth your investment in it. For this reason, it’s important to map out which part of your QA effort stands to benefit from automated testing, as well as where manual testing is most appropriate.

By finding the right balance between manual and automated testing, you can maximize your investment in test automation. In addition, there are a variety of other benefits to combining these two approaches to testing, including higher quality test execution, faster time to market, and improved employee satisfaction.

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