There’s no successful dev cycle without ensuring functionality, and QA has been integral to functional testing since the dawn of software. Traditionally, functional testing meant human testers running smoke and regression tests, but wielding automated functional testing can help teams keep up with the competition and bring QA into a modern CI/CD pipeline. 

Functional testing is perhaps the most critical type of software testing, as it validates if your product features work according to their intended requirements (or don’t). For many teams, starting with automated functional testing – the bread and butter of QA – is a great place to integrate automation into your QA process.

Functional testing is mission-critical QA coverage

The bottom line is if your software doesn’t work, you can’t sell it. Yet far too often, companies bring apps to market before they’re thoroughly vetted. Poor-quality software cost businesses nearly $2 billion in 2020. So what happens if your software doesn’t live up to its promised functionality? It may be more damaging than you think.

  • Customer Churn – Consumers have choices, and increasingly, they’re willing to pay more to your competitor for software that functions as anticipated. 
  • Revenue Loss – Not only does losing customers hurt the bottom line but so do functional payments issues. Fail to find problems like this early, and you could be giving your software away for free for months before you notice.
  • Reputation – Nothing hurts your reputation more than customer reviews revealing the app doesn’t work. Bad reviews have a cascading effect, leading to lower ratings, reduced downloads, and reduced visibility.
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Match product vision with user experience with functional QA testing services. Testlio ensures you deliver on functional specifications – every time.

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Functional testing verifies all functions of the software work. Perfecting usability, deploying to new locations, adding features, and streamlining can wait and won’t matter if basic functionality isn’t there. That’s why functional testing is a HUGE QA priority. With that stage set, let’s talk automation. 

Functional test automation basics

Functional testing is an excellent way to break into test automation, as complete coverage can be broken down into many unit tests. Unit tests are your entry point; automate these tests quickly and abundantly. Unit tests isolate and validate specific features to ensure functionality – think smoke tests, regression tests, and configuration tests. Define the parameters of “units” with your internal testing teams since most will have varying ideas of what individual units look like. Generally, unit tests should be already broken down into specific micro-units and are relatively straightforward without any external dependencies (they are mocked or stubbed out).

Most functional tests are unit tests – an ideal place to start with automation. Regression tests are also well-suited to automation and are a crucial part of the test and fix cycle. Starting with that foundation in mind, remember key steps to create a practical automated functional test framework based on test-driven development (TDD).

  • Create a test case with data
  • Write the code to fulfill the test case requirements
  • Run the test
  • Fix code as required to pass the test
  • Re-test

This basic approach to functional testing integrates unit testing with development, making for simple, robust, and flexible automated testing.

How to write an automated functional test case

Automated functional testing can increase coverage and speed for the most repetitive unit and regression tests, and manual testers can cover functionality that’s too complex to automate.

An overemphasis on either automated or manual testing can create bottlenecks, putting your release timelines at risk. Testlio uses a methodology called fused testing, combining automated and manual runs with working in parallel. This helps development teams to validate failed automated tests quickly and enables a manual continuation of flakey tests.

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Not to mention, humans are needed to write test cases. You must develop a solid, repeatable strategy for creating compelling automated test cases to do this successfully. Part of that strategy is maximizing human resources by leveraging low-code test automation with easy functional test cases. This way, more team members – even people without much coding experience – can get in on writing test cases.

Your team should know the fundamental features of an excellent functional test case:

  • Make a clear, well-defined test purpose
  • Communicate precise prerequisites, eg, “test requires being logged in as a user with x subscription level.”
  • Include “what if” scenarios like “what if the browser crashes during input?”
  • Outline clear steps detailing actions and expected results
  • Validate whether the test passed or failed

Want more resources? Check out our ultimate guide to functional testing (manual or automated!) and a bonus checklist.

Kassidy Kelley serves as the Managing Editor for Testlio and works from her home base in Boston, MA.