Testing to find defects and bugs can be a time consuming, expensive and repetitive task. However, testing is crucial to the success of your digital product as if your software doesn't work properly, there's a high change people won't use it. There are plenty of tools available to help make testing more manageable. One such is automation, which can be extremely beneficial when utilised correctly. It helps streamline the entire process while reducing costs and shortening your development cycles.
Additionally, it will help in avoiding tedious, repetitive tasks. However, using it incorrectly or during the wrong stage of development or, in some cases, for a product that is not well suited for automation, can make it a burden rather than a benefit. For this reason, it's extremely important to understand how and when to use test automation in the best possible manner.The following five best practices will ensure that you're using test automation to its greatest potential:
1. Automate the Right Test Cases
Not all test cases are well suited to automation, therefore it's a must to establish what test cases should be automated. One of the greatest benefits of test automation is that it can repeatedly perform tests in an efficient manner. Ideal test cases are the ones that can run frequently and need a large amount of data to execute. Automated testing is also perfect for repetitive tests that run for multiple builds and tests that run on many different hardware and software combinations. Finally, tests that are extremely time consuming and difficult to execute manually can become a walk in the park with automation.
2. Select the Best Automation Tool
There are multiple different testing tools available today, each with their own set of pros and cons. For this reason, it can be very difficult to determine what the right one. The following considerations can help determine the best tool for your specific requirements:
- Does it support all your device, browser, operating system and software necessities? If you're testing over multiple configurations, it's important to make sure that your testing tool gives you easy and quick access to the platforms you need. For example, virtual machines can be a great way to let you effectively target device fragmentation and let you quickly test over any device using Android, iOS, Windows or Ubuntu with all the different browsers and software you need. Testbirds offers an infrastructure that utilises virtual machines to create over 2.5 million device, software, browser and operating system combinations.
- Is it flexible to use? Some tools may limit the amount of test scripts you can run or the amount of platforms you are able to simultaneously test on. It's important to make sure you choose a flexible tool that is well suited to the needs of your digital product based on cost and available features.
- Is it easy to use? Tools vary in complexity, however in general it's important to use something that is simple and well known to your QA department or has a strong support system.
- How much maintenance does it require? Choosing a tool that requires a lot of maintenance and effort can quickly become a burden to your team and to your wallet.
3. Make Sure you Have the Expertise to Automate
Test automation can be quite complicated, often requiring certain knowledge to perform successfully. It's therefore vital to see whether or not you and your team have the right expertise to write test scripts, execute them and effectively analyse results. It's also quite common to outsource test automation or even hire a specialist, allowing teams to get the most out of their automated testing process.
4. Understand your Digital Product and Know What to Automate
While test automation can revolutionise your testing, it's important to understand that it is not a good option for all software and technology. Typically, software that is undergoing many changes is not well suited. Test automation is best when used for repetitive tests that need to be executed with each release. Regression testing is a perfect example, where you verify that software you have previously tested still functions as expected after a development cycle. In addition, it's also important to only automate features after they have stabilised and are most likely to remain unchanged. It's equally vital to not try to automate everything but only focus on critical workflows.
5. Create High Quality Test Data
Having well structured and high quality data will make it easier to create and execute test scripts. It's also much easier to maintain and repeat effective test data. While creating data is definitely an arduous task, investing the time and effort into perfecting it will make writing automated tests a lot easier and allow you to extend existing tests alongside your development cycles.In conclusion, automation can play a crucial role in the success of software if it is utilised correctly.
Before beginning it's important to have a concrete plan and design, which allows you to identify the tests you plan to automate and acts as a guide for the future. You should define a clear goal for your automation and work towards it in a smart manner that takes into consideration the aforementioned factors.