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4 Simplified Tips for Getting Started with Automated Testing

Thorough testing is crucial to the success of a software product. If your software doesn’t work properly, most people aren’t going to use it… at least not for long.

Automated testing, however, helps teams make the most of their testing resources. It’s no secret that automated testing shortens your development cycles, avoids cumbersome repetitive tasks, and improves software quality. It frees up test engineers, allowing them to focus on tests that require manual attention and human interaction. It also empowers your organization to build more quality products in less time and likewise be able to market it early. If there’s no formal test automation protocol in your company, then you could be the person to initiate it. But how do you get started?

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Fear not! The right steps lay the foundation of successful software testing and ensure you get the maximum return on investment (ROI). Below you’ll find the best practices to getting started with automated testing.

Convince Management

No matter how eager you are to implement test automation in your organization, you can’t do anything if your management isn’t convinced of the benefits test automation offers.

It’s a universal truth that test automation is expensive and the true value of automation isn’t an instant gratification. Not only do you have to convince management to bear the cost of expenses upfront – tools, test automation architect – you also have to reassure them during the weeks or months scripts are created and testing can begin.

Does the company’s vision statement focus on quality?  Maybe it prides itself on being agile? Perhaps the phrase “continuous delivery” makes upper management happy?

Without automated testing, none of these things are possible.

Intelligent management invests in the quality of their products. If they’re not investing in automated testing, though, they’re hurting their bottom line. Demonstrate the considerable – and shocking – waste of time in terms of dollars. Highlight how many scripts can be done automatically versus manually. Comprehensive QA has the ability to unlock customer value and better serve the end user. With automated testing, you can find and fix issues faster – meaning less costs in the long run.

Select the Right Automated Testing Tool

Selecting an automated testing tool is one of the most important aspects of test automation. It also goes without saying it’s not as easy as it sounds.

There are various tools in the market, so it’s important to choose the automated testing tool that best suits your overall requirements. Consider these key points when selecting an automated testing tool:

  • Supports your platforms and technology. If your application runs on mobile, the tool must be able to execute scripts on mobile. If you work with Android, the tool must support it.
  • Flexible for testers of all skill levels. You must have people capable of using the tool or who can learn it in a short amount of time. If you hired an automation architect with limited knowledge in a certain resource, you may want to consider purchasing another option.
  • Automated tests that are resilient. If you change your UI, your tests should conform to these updates.
  • Good reporting. Your data is only as good as the results you have access to or can easily understand.

Create an Automation Framework

It’s impossible to automate all testing, nor can you incorporate automated testing all at once. Success in test automation requires careful planning and prioritizing. This can be achieved by creating an automation framework, allowing you to identify the initial set of tests to automate, careful planning to write the scripts, and serve as a guide for future tests.

First, you should define your goal for automated testing and determine which types of tests to automate. Perhaps you start with your Build Verification Testing. Then move onto your frequently performed tests, progressing onto the tests that take more time or are difficult to do.

Next, decide what actions your automated tests will perform. Divide your tests into several logical, smaller tests in order to maintain a coherent and manageable process.

Once you create several simple automated tests, you can group your tests into one, larger automated test. You can organize automated tests by the application’s functional area, major/minor division in the application, common functions or a base set of test data. The execution plan should also state that who will execute the scripts.

Automation plans are living documents as you should always look for test opportunities that may be too difficult to do manually but can be done with automation.

Don’t forget to explain the framework and process to your team – good training and strong communication between manual testers, developers, and automation team cannot be understated.

Writing and Maintaining Scripts

Test automation is just like software development – so the same best programming practices can be applied to writing scripts. It requires expert knowledge of scripting languages, so have QA engineers that know the script language provided by your chosen automated testing tool.

Though it might sound basic, it’s worth mentioning that scripts should be written in an organized manner with proper naming convention. You should also generate automated test scripts that are repeatable. You can do this by storing input data in an external file. Data files can then be easily extended with new data without needing to edit the actual automated test.

You should also consider providing unique names for your controls, eliminating the automated testing tool from relying on location coordinates to find the control. This ensures that your automated tests work without having to make changes to the test itself.

As stated above, you can group smaller tests. So no sense in writing a test that’s large, complex, and difficult to edit and debug. A good rule of thumb when creating test scripts is the earlier you create good-quality data, the easier it is to extend existing automated tests in conjunction with the app’s development.

If you followed best programming practices and have a solid framework, then maintenance will be a breeze. And even if the user interface of the application changes between builds, your test results should work with future versions of the app.

On the flip side, many automation projects fail due to poor maintenance of scripts. The biggest culprit? Branching. One way to resolve this is by employing continuous integration. This means that the developer’s working copies are synchronized with a shared mainline several times a day, encouraging everybody to work from the same shared source.

Putting it all together

Whenever the right situation arises, you should automate your test case. And the best practices described in this article will help you introduce automation to your company in a seamless way.

There are additional resources such as QA technology that can help you avoid common mistakes and improve your automated testing process.