Automated testing (AT) is indispensable when you need to check hard-to-reach places, validation forms, basic operations, and frequently used functions. For example, in complex apps with broad functionality. In any case, its efficiency depends on how hard the specialists work on the test automation strategy. Today we will talk about mistakes that may devalue the effort of your team.
Table of Contents
How to Build a Test Automation Strategy
Modern users of any digital product (e.g., a text editor, a game, or large-scale enterprise software) are very demanding. They expect lightning-fast loading, attractive design, lots of exciting features constantly updated, and perfect performance. Achieving all this with manual tests is almost impossible.
The reason is not only that you have to make more efforts and involve additional specialists. The accuracy of the results must also be guaranteed: a machine can detect the smallest flaws that a person may miss. It can also work for as long as it takes. However, not everything is so clear. The test automation team also has a big responsibility for building a phased strategy.
Key Steps of the AT Strategy:
1. Setting Goals
The first step is to set specific goals, i.e., to understand which tests to perform. There is no sense in automating everything. It is logical to choose monotonous and regular tasks that require a lot of time, effort, and data.
Do not forget about tests aimed at checking stability, for example, to evaluate the impact of new code on existing functions. It also makes sense to perform AT in cases where manual actions are ineffective, including performance tests.
2. Choosing an approach
It is also necessary to structure tests, for example, in a pyramid format indicating types, execution sequence, and frequency. A pyramid applies to 3 levels and looks like this: modular (base), integration (middle), E2E (top). Agile teams value this approach for high speed, efficiency, and proper prioritization.
In general, you should immediately decide on the methods to ensure the value of the results:
- Unit. It is the basis of any flexible strategy: each piece of code is checked individually.
- Regression. The second-priority method that checks existing functionality after changes to the code.
- E2E. Such tests involve the interaction of components in the correct order.
- Integration/API. Checking stability when interacting with external systems, as well as communication with out-of-process dependencies.
- Crossbrowser. Testing combinations of different browsers (OS, devices, etc.) popular among target users.
- Smoke. Revealing obvious errors in the work of critical functions.
There are many methods, but all of them are united by a key goal: to ensure the system’s stability after updates and changes in its components and algorithms.
3. Choosing a Tool
Tests in AT are becoming completely tool-dependent. Your team must be serious about finding software for the project’s purposes. We have identified the nuances to be considered when choosing a tool:
- Nature (depending on the type of product being tested). For example, Selenium is ideal for web apps, and Appium is good for mobile software.
- Accessibility (whether the code is open for viewing and modification). Selenium Webdriver is an open-source tool suitable for these purposes.
- Compatibility. It should be possible to conduct tests in cross-browser and multi-platform conditions.
In addition, we recommend paying attention to the popularity of the solution. It is proof of its effectiveness, support quality, and community engagement.
4. Writing and Executing Tests
Follow proven practices when writing test cases. We will describe some of those that we use in our work. Choose an approach to writing templates so that they can be reused in future projects. However, before that, it is better to check if there are analogs to avoid redundancy.
Another important nuance: tests must be understandable not only for those who create them. If a large team is involved in the work, it is necessary that each member can interpret test cases. You need to properly prioritize and follow a hierarchy in checking features and components.
5. Support and maintenance
The work does not end after writing tests and running them in a sequence. It is necessary to ensure high-quality monitoring of the correctness of actions and maintain scripts. So, regression tests should be executed after the launch of each suite and when changes to the code are made.
As we stated before, the purpose of such actions is to ensure that the update does not negatively impact functionality. Our agile experts and experienced QA testers attach great importance to maintaining the effectiveness of regression tests.
To obtain optimal results, take optimization measures after the first test suite is launched. Note all the nuances throughout the process: from the project’s goals to making conclusions and further optimization.
At first glance, this test automation strategy is simple and straightforward. What can go wrong? We have compiled a list of 5 mistakes that AT specialists often make. The reason for the problems lies in the incorrect assessment of the real needs, capabilities, and skills of the team.
5 Test Automation Mistakes And How To Avoid Them
- The desire to automate 100% of requirements or provide 100% AT coverage. Sometimes the applied solutions do not support interaction with the selected tests, or a manual test cannot be automated at all. There are situations when it’s not profitable to automate complex tasks due to high development and support costs. Focus not only on what is possible. Choose what you need and what is beneficial for the project.
- Neglect of analysis. When a project is under tight deadlines, it can be difficult to find time to analyze requirements, costs, and benefits, as well as assess skill sets and explore software solutions. It entails choosing the wrong tool and poor resource/task management. You should not spare time and resources for analysis because the correctness of the results depends on it.
- Implementation of the project without regard to design standards. It leads to writing non-repeatable scripts. They cannot be reused when new versions of the product are released. There is only one way to solve the problem: start designing much earlier than executing or coding automation. This is where the rule comes in: fixing bugs is harder than coding tests.
- An attempt to replace manual testing. AT has both benefits and limitations, but there are still aspects more suitable for human verification. For example, usability and acceptability (UAT). A testing team working with people can handle these tasks perfectly.
- No exploratory testing. It’s not actually a technique but an approach or even a way of thinking used in any technique. It applies to both the execution of ready-made tests and preparing new tests at the start of an iteration, as well as the analysis of completed works. The approach helps provide quick feedback about a new product or feature, find critical bugs in a short time, detect and localize defects, and check the work of other specialists.
So, to get good results, it is necessary to build a test automation strategy responsibly. We know from our experience that most mistakes can be prevented at an early stage. That’s why it’s essential to consider design standards, conduct a thorough analysis (of requirements, tools, and skills), check tools before running tests, and choose an agile approach. We also do not recommend being categorical and considering AT as a complete replacement for manual tests because these methods complement each other well.