Every software project needs to be tested on a daily basis, but let’s face it – delivered software always has some bugs. Test Engineers try to catch them as early as possible, before software is deployed to production, but bugs have a nasty habit of re-appearing even when the best manual Quality Assurance processes are in place. Test Automation is the best way to increase reliability, effectiveness and scope of your tests.
Manual testing is made by a human sitting in front of the screen, watching application screens in great detail, trying different combinations of inputs, comparing results with expected behaviour and noting his observations. Manual tests are also repeated during application code update and other situations (multiple environments, browsers, operating systems etc.)
Test Automation is able to replay pre-recorded test scenarios, compare its results with expected behavior and report success or failure of a particular test set. After creation of the automation test suite you can easily repeat them and expand with tasks that are not possible while manual testing. That’s the main reason why experienced managers have discovered that Test Automation is an essential element of successful software projects.
Test Automation has been considered critical for large organizations like banks or assurance companies for quite some time, but one common misconception is that it is too costly to implement in smaller projects.
Luckily, with growth of open-source Test Automation frameworks this is no longer the case. Having said that, let’s try to answer the title question: Can you afford a Test Automation solution? Here are some key points to consider.
Test Automation saves your time and money
In order to assure quality, testing has to be repeated very often during the software development lifecycle. Every time source code is modified, tests have to be repeated. Every release has to be tested on multiple browsers and devices. Manual repetition of those tests is costly and time consuming. After initial creation, the automated test suite can be run multiple times without additional costs and way faster than manual testing. Test Automation can increase speed of testing from days to hours. This saved time directly translates into cost savings.
If tests need to be run manually, people need to take the time to do them. What’s more, we also need to make sure that the tests work. But why do manually something that you can automate? Why manually run a process that is identical every time? It doesn’t make sense. We should just worry about whether the tests passed or not. By automating tests, we save ourselves a lot of time for the more valuable task of writing and maintaining code.
With automated testing, it’s less thought-provoking and less memorable, which ultimately requires less time. When tests are automated, with a few exceptions, we only need to respond if the tests fail for some reason.
Test Automation significantly increases test coverage
When automated tests are in place, it is possible to broaden scope and depth of tests which directly translates to better quality of your software. Complicated tests, which are very often skipped during manual testing can be performed without human oversight. They can be even performed on different machines and configurations. Test Automation allows us to have a look at applications data state and determine if software is behaving as expected. It can also perform hundreds of tests in one test suite and ensure test coverage which is simply impossible to achieve with manual testing.
Test Automation improves accuracy
Even the most diligent tester makes mistakes during monotonous manual tests. Automated Tests follow exactly the same steps each time they are performed and never forget to record detailed results. Released from repetitive manual testing, testers have more time to create new automated software tests and deal with complex functions
Automation is handy where manual tests can’t help
Even the largest software and QA departments are unable to conduct a controlled test of web applications with thousands of users. Automated testing can simulate tens, hundreds, or thousands of virtual users interacting with the web, software, and web applications.
Automated Testing helps both developers and testers
The provided automated tests can be used by developers to quickly detect problems before sending them to testers. Tests can run automatically whenever changes are made to the source code and notify the team or developer if they fail. Such features save developers time and increase their confidence.
If a process is executed in the same way each time, it is understood that the reliability of that process will remain constant over time. Compare that to when people get involved.
People look at the situation very well, evaluate the best course of action and take action later. However, repeatedly performing tasks that can be mundane – and such can be tests – is not something we do well. Especially when we take into account stress, fatigue, family pressure, illness and so on. such factors increase the likelihood that we will miss something.
For example, let’s say that a stereotypical testing process had to be done manually. And let’s say acceptance tests have been skipped for some reason.
We may get the false impression that everything is working and then wonder why the customer sent the email complaining about the problem with downloading the user profile. We would be convinced that everything is fine… until we re-run acceptance tests and found that several tests failed. We would probably feel even more embarrassed if we then determined that the bug had occurred for days or weeks.
Isn’t that why we have computers that deal with more repetitive tasks? Let’s use them to perform the tasks for which they were created.
Automated Testing helps to improve morale of both development and product team
It’s hard to measure, but we all have experienced it the hard way. Completing repetitive tasks with automated software tests gives your team time to complete more difficult and rewarding projects. Team members improve their skills and self-confidence, and pass on their achievements to their organization.
If a developer needs to remember to run tests, they must break away from programming. If tests run automatically, or even as part of the build process, developers can continue to develop – unless the tests fail, of course. They don’t have to stop concentrating, pass tests, and then go back to where they were and resume their course of thinking. This may seem trivial, but the time spent changing the mental context to testing and transitioning from it can be significant, especially over time. With this in mind, consider how much more productive developers can be when they can stay in a mental focus on creating great code.
I will say that doing one thing all the time, even something as difficult and rewarding as software development, can take its toll. It’s great to take a break from time to time, especially since this may be the place where the most thought processing actually happens. However, switching frequently between tasks is simply a waste.
7 benefits coming from Test Automation:
- Tests can be ran 24h a day / 7 days a week, without manual data entering, ensuring high level of quality assurance
- You can run tests suite on multiple platforms and browsers in the same time
- Reports generated after test suite run are extensive and give detailed information about new and fixed bugs
- Test Automation saves testers time, and reduces costs for organization
- It is a perfect way to simulate a user environment, because it covers repetitive steps performed by the end user.
- You have constant feedback from regression testing
- You can spot irregularities and glitches in your application
So, to answer the title question: in 2021 you can’t afford not having Test Automation in your project.