How to Create Best Test Automation Maintenance Strategy

Automated Testing (AT) is not just a replacement for manual work or another way to reduce IT project costs. It is a helpful tool for managing product quality and taking QA to a new level. You can run more tests in a limited time, which allows you to quickly find bugs in your system and make decisions about fixing them. However, do not forget about the need for test automation maintenance. With the wrong strategy, it can slow down your product’s time to market. Let’s consider how to optimize the maintenance.

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Test automation maintenance — what is it?

Maintenance refers to the most crucial testing phases. As the system is regularly changed, the functionality is consistently updated and improved. Maintenance has a specific purpose: to check the stability and correctness of the implemented functions and plan further steps.

It also applies to automated testing. Maintenance is necessary when new scripts are added that require careful testing and support. These actions are essential at the project-wide level, as they allow scenarios to be even more efficient as the process evolves at each stage of the ATLC.

Often AT specialists face problems in test automation maintenance. It is quite laborious and takes too much time. But without it, tests may become ineffective, slowing down the development of the project and increasing costs. That is why it is vital to plan ahead and choose the best approach to make the service hassle-free.

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How to choose a test automation maintenance approach?

Problems are often associated with the wrong choice of tests. For example, it makes no sense to automate testing of features that are in beta testing or one-off tests. Implementing auto-tools can take longer than manual implementation.

In addition, while working on a project, AT specialists may encounter changes in requirements or clarifications from the developers, including internal refactoring, which may change the class interface. All this always affects the criteria and conditions for the acceptance of functions and tests.

You have the opportunity to avoid the problems associated with adding new functions, scaling the project, making changes to it, and other reasons. Here are some ways you can use to form a test automation maintenance approach.

5 components of a good maintenance strategy:
1. Establishing connections with UI/UX

Maintaining an IT project involves close cooperation with specialists of different profiles. The developers who deal with the interface affect the project significantly. Changes are often made to the user interface to make it more convenient, relevant, and understandable. However, it influences the test suite.

It is inappropriate to focus on the location coordinates of an interface object, HTML map, or dynamic identifier. It keeps your tests “sensitive” to changes in the interface. The problem can be solved by forming a static naming convention.

This method is used by programmers when it is necessary to transfer a project to other specialists or make it easier to read and understand the code and related documentation. Adding a static QA id to your code can help reduce the impact of design changes on test suites.

2. Simplicity is paramount

As we mentioned before, the timing of test automation largely depends on the time spent on maintenance. It is possible to speed up the process by keeping the test cases simple. Low-level tests are suitable for this since they are fast to execute and have no technical support issues. For example, unit checks do not require automation costs and can be extremely fast.

Using a modular structure is beneficial when it is necessary to exclude the dependence of the current test from the previous one. It positively affects the quality of service, allowing the activities to be performed simultaneously or distributed. It is also beneficial to reuse modules.

But what if you have to work with a complex and long script? In this case, it makes sense to implement test suites that can be used repeatedly. In addition, you should pay attention to test cases. If they are complicated, it increases the time spent on support and the probability of failure.

If you find a case that has many steps, it’s best to split it into 2 or more. It will be better if each of the cases works with only one function or action. High complexity almost always leads to stability problems.

3. A smart plan of action

Sometimes there is an urgent need to speed up releases. For example, if you need to check about 400 cases in a development sprint. Imagine how long a manual check would take! At least 2 weeks. It is logical that it will affect overall productivity. Automated testing will take 4 hours only.

However, do not think that everything is so simple. With test automation, a sensible approach is also important. It is much more profitable to devote this time to working with other critical aspects and to conduct tests at night, especially regarding regular tests provided when deploying new code. The obtained night results can be used for a detailed analysis of problems or maintenance of autotests.

4. Focus on relevance

It is necessary to control the relevance of tests if you are working on a large-scale and long-term project in which the functionality is constantly expanding, and the user experience is improving. They must be carried out considering all changes and new requirements.

To keep pace with the changes, you need to clearly understand the deadlines and know what methods to use to achieve goals quickly. To do this, you can create a strategy to keep the tests up-to-date, install a script update system, and regularly review the tests.

Be aware of the relevance of the data as well. Data processing is one of the most annoying problems for AT specialists. Frequent changes to data are expected to lead to script failures. But they are easy to prevent: it is enough to update the database and its status timely. Or you can create a new set when you run the scripts.

5. No instability

When performing test automation and its technical maintenance, everything must work stably. However, the calm is often disturbed due to failed tests with conflicting and floating results. They are based on the same parameters but do not provide unambiguous data for decision-making. It increases development time and causes problems for the testers.

Usually, the problem lies in the configuration of the tests or the development code. How do you know what the catch is? If you encounter a failed test, repeat it. Multiple setbacks indicate programming errors. Successful outcomes or floating outcomes are signs of instability.

Tests can be unstable for many reasons: selection of the wrong data, incorrect initialization/cleaning, dependence on the order of launches, and asynchronous actions.

Often the source of problems is:

  • the framework (lack of resources, inconsistencies between tests);
  • services and libraries (slow response, different speed of changes in apps and tests);
  • hardware and OS (network failures, disk errors).

Your job is to identify and respond to problems and errors quickly.

Having a competent test automation maintenance approach guarantees productive work on the project and its timely completion. Incorporate all suggested methods and tools into your strategy to keep pace with changes, meet new requirements, and prevent disruptions. It will simplify the life of the entire IT team and bring the product to market closer.

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