How to implement test automation for the first time

You've just started a brand new role at a company, and your first task is to implement test automation.

Now, this company has never done any kind of automation and right now is relying on an assortment of methods to test and measure quality.
Where and how do you begin such a momentous task? I'm glad you asked.

We're going to discuss the general, fundamental concepts surrounding test automation - not the specific tools or frameworks you need to use because those will vary based on your organization's unique needs.
Let's start!

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Do you need a test automation plan?

Mikhail Chigorin, the renowned chess champion, famously stated, "Even a poor plan is better than no plan at all."
But you should strive for a good plan! It is like a roadmap that helps explain why automation is a smart move. It lays out a clear path for everyone involved and makes it easy to track progress. Plus, by setting clear goals and objectives, the plan guides the testing process and shows how automation pays off in the long run.


A simple guide to making an automated testing plan

Let's break down step by step how to create an automated testing plan. These steps work for any project, big or small.

1. Define your goals – Start by determining what you want to achieve with your automated testing plan. This will set the expectations for everyone involved.

2. Give a project overview – Give stakeholders a quick overview of your project so they know what's going on and how automation fits into the picture.

3. Identify assumptions – List all your assumptions about the automation process to avoid surprises later.

4. Show the Return on Investment (ROI) – Not every test can or should be automated. This part of the plan shows how automation will save time and money in the long run compared to manual testing.

5. Outline your automation plan – Determine what parts of your testing process you want to automate and how you'll do it. This includes deciding what's in scope and what's out, what types of tests you'll run, and which tools you'll use.

6. Design your automation – Look closely at how you'll set up your automation. This is where you decide whether to use a commercial tool or build something in-house, ensuring it's scalable and easy to maintain.

7. Get implementing – Decide how you'll roll out automation across your project, manage your code and test cases, handle test data, and set up your test environment.

8. Manage defects – Automation is all about catching bugs early. Define how you'll track and report any defects that pop up during testing.

9. Create reports – Make sure your automation run reports are clear and easy to understand. Include project information, test objectives, a summary of your tests, and details about any defects you find.

10. Keep it running smoothly – Your automation framework should handle changes and updates and keep improving as you go.

How to implement test automation – 5 simple tips

1. Don't dive straight in

First, many people try to start by automating whatever tests are currently being done manually. A common scenario is that they have test cases or tests that they have to run all the time, so they dive in and automate them straight away.

The problem is we don't know if any of those tests are good or even worth keeping in the first place. Just because they exist now doesn't mean we should automate them. Those tests can easily be relics from an old version that nobody has thought to remove (and believe us, we've seen plenty of those!).

2. Map how you currently test

Before you dive into automation of any kind, you should start by mapping out how you are currently doing testing. You need to understand the testing approach and determine the best place to integrate automated tests.

In many companies, a good place to start is creating the data because you will need that for your automated checks (and for your tests).

3. Have a clear end goal

The end goal should be to understand exactly what testing needs to occur at what 'state' the application is in and then automate where you can within those 'states.' For instance, you might need exploratory/crowdsourced testing at one 'state' of the application and regression at another 'state.' These two testing types require different kinds of automation.

However, if you had just jumped in automating, you could easily have caused heartache where it didn't need to be and slowed down your existing processes. From our experience, many new starters dive in to automate whatever their skillset allows without fully grasping how things have been done and assessing the right way to implement automation based on the stage (or 'state') the application is in.

4. Use existing development language

In terms of development language, you should go with whatever the stack's built-in, and there are advantages to this (firstly, the developers will thank you). You'll also be able to speed up the level of automation coverage and move faster.

For instance, think of a mobile app. If you move to a company that's got a mobile app, the first place you would start is understanding how you distribute the testing environment app to devices, because that's something that you're testing team will be doing all day long. 

So, start by automating the app's deployment to get many versions out to devices quickly, then go from there. Many of these apps' logic is in the API, so then look at automating something on the API level and work your way up over time.

5. Change your automation mindset

You also need to think about the automation the team can complete. Take a look at putting in a plan for unit tests, integration tests, and pipeline deployments as well. One of the biggest misconceptions people have about automated testing is that it is about the automation tools when it is about the mindset you need to automate where and when you need it.

While necessary, a technical skillset will not give you the knowledge to know what is important to implement and what is not. A certain level of critical thinking is required so that you can automate functions that will improve the quality of your software.

The downside of skipping test automation strategies

Alright, let's chat about what happens when you skip out on having a test automation strategy. It's not just a theoretical thing – we've seen it play out in the real world, and trust me, it's not pretty. Here are a few snags you might run into:

1. Can't show off the business benefits

So, when teams decide to dive into test automation or other fancy tech stuff like performance testing or web-based testing, they often forget to connect it to the business side of things. Sure, the tech is excellent and could help the business, but your project might get the axe if you don't make that connection clear. No ROI demonstration? No approval.

2. Vision? What vision?

Picture this: You're working on an automation project, and things suddenly shift. You might need to tweak your approach, maybe even switch up the tech you're using. Without a solid plan, losing sight of your original vision is easy. Having a roadmap handy helps you navigate those unexpected twists and turns.

3. Tech mismatch disaster

Not all test automation technologies are created equal. You've got to pick the right one for your project, or else you're headed for what we like to call "technology efficiency loss." If you don't take the time to figure out which tech fits your needs, you could end up trying to force a square peg into a round hole. Spoiler alert: it doesn't work.


To put everything into perspective, remember that the cornerstone of your test automation strategy is not rigid formats but aligning with your goals and fostering effective communication. What value are you aiming to deliver? What overarching technological objectives are you pursuing? And critically, how are these initiatives impacting your organization and its environments?

Securing buy-in from your business partners, product owners, and project managers is equally imperative. Their support during testing crunch times is invaluable. By ensuring they comprehend your strategy, they'll entrust you with decisions regarding what to prioritize and streamline. Lastly, leverage your testing automation strategy as a springboard for investing in apt technologies and propelling business growth through innovation. Ultimately, this journey is about progression, innovation, and steering clear of regressions.

How can Global App Testing help implement test automation?

Global App Testing offers a flexible testing solution, providing immediate scalability through human testers, which serves as a valuable defense against the challenges of automation. This approach not only enhances the capabilities of internal QA and QE teams but also extends testing services across devices, countries, and physical environments, areas that are often challenging to cover in-house.

When you outsource the execution of test cases in your automation queue to an external partner, you can allocate your resources more efficiently and focus on refining and expanding your automation efforts. This strategic shift breaks the cycle of automation bottlenecks and enables you to concentrate on optimizing your automation processes.

As AI technologies advance, software releases increase, creating a demand for more extensive testing. Although the proportion of manual testing may decrease, the overall volume of tests continues to grow.

Interested in exploring what percentage of your tests we can assist in automating? 
Set up a call with our specialist to discuss this further.


We can help you drive software testing as a key initiative aligned with your business goals

Contact us



When should you consider when implementing test automation?

Test automation is beneficial when repetitive test cases need to be executed frequently, such as in regression testing or large-scale projects. It's also helpful when aiming to achieve faster feedback on software quality or when increasing test coverage is needed.

What are the key benefits of test automation?

Test automation offers several advantages, including:

  • Faster execution of test cases
  • Increased test coverage
  • Consistent and repeatable testing processes
  • Early detection of defects
  • Improved efficiency and productivity of testing teams
What are the challenges of test automation?

Test automation can face challenges such as:

  • Initial setup and learning curve for automation tools
  • Maintenance of automation scripts as the application evolves
  • Identifying suitable test cases for automation
  • Handling dynamic elements in the application
  • Limited support for certain types of testing, such as exploratory testing
What is the role of manual testing along with test automation?

Manual testing complements test automation by focusing on exploratory testing, usability testing, and test scenarios that are difficult to automate. Manual testing also helps validate the accuracy and reliability of automation scripts.

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