Those in the technology sector will be familiar with testing. That is, creating and developing a product or piece of software, and frequently putting it through its paces until you get it right.
It’s part of the product development cycle and is vitally important for ensuring your product is as good as you want it to be.
Nowadays, testing has become more sophisticated and more advanced. We have started to utilize automation testing to help ease the workload of the rest of the team and provide clear and accurate results.
Here, we’ll delve further into automation testing, including what it is, and how to start using it in your business.
What is automation testing?
Automation testing is the process of testing software and other tech products to ensure it meets strict requirements. Essentially, it’s a test to double-check that the equipment or software does exactly what it was designed to do. It tests for bugs, defects, and any other issues that can arise with product development.
Many software businesses will have an appointed QA (quality assurance) automation tester. They design and write the test scripts in the beginning stages. The QA automation tester will work with automation test engineers and product developers to actually test the software and products. They will form a team and control the test automation initiatives, and use different types of test automation frameworks to establish the best one for successful test automation.
When starting to work with unit testing frameworks, the team needs to know about its attributes, runners, assertions, screen shots, test suites, and CI (continuous integration). Popular user testing frameworks include JUnit for Java and Pytest for Python.
Adhering to testing protocols is important in the technology industry. It’s critical for continuous delivery (CD) and continuous testing (CT). DevOps and agile software development teams will use both CD and CT in their testing strategies.
By choosing automation testing, businesses are able to streamline their testing procedures to deliver the maximum return on investment (ROI). Why? Because automated testing can shorten development life cycles, eliminate the possibility of human error, and automate mundane and monotonous tasks.
Why is automation needed?
Some teams simply don’t have the time or resources to be manually testing software. Automation can help with this. It can significantly reduce the time it takes to test products because it runs quickly and efficiently. This puts time back into the hands of developers and production managers, who can divert their efforts into other aspects of the project. It can greatly boost productivity as a result.
Using automation technology also means that testing can be done more frequently, improving overall functionality. Software development cycles call for repeated testing, often the same test over and over again. Automation testing makes this possible, without taking team members away from other work. It can also deliver more accurate and reliable results than manual testing alone. Further ensuring that the product is ready for market or to move onto the next stage of development. This validation gives the team a boost to continue developing.
Most importantly, automation benefits product development. That’s because when software, an app, or another product can be designed and produced more efficiently, it makes way for continuous development once it's been launched. Essentially, the business will be able to work on more software and products, even with the same amount of team members, thanks to automation. Not only does this mean they perfect the final products they put out, but it also means they are creating new software all the time.
What are the benefits of automation testing?
Software testing has many benefits, which is why SaaS businesses across the globe are utilizing automation technology. Here are some of the biggest benefits of using automation testing for software development:
- Detailed reporting capabilities - Automation testing uses well-crafted test cases for various scenarios. These scripted sequences can be incredibly in-depth, and provide detailed reports that simply wouldn’t be possible when done by a human. Not to mention providing them in a shorter amount of time.
- Improved bug detection - One of the main reasons to test a product is to detect bugs and other defects. Automation testing makes this process an easier one. It’s also able to analyze a wider test coverage than humans may be able to.
- Simplifies testing - Testing is a routine part of the operations of most SaaS and tech companies. Making it as simple as possible is key. Using automation is extremely beneficial. When automating test tools, the test scripts can be reused. Manual testing, meanwhile, calls for a single code line to be written for the same test case, each time it needs to be run
- Speeds up the testing process - Machines and automated technology work faster than humans. Along with improved accuracy, this is why we use them. In turn, this shortens your software development cycles.
- Reduces human intervention - Tests can be run at any time of day, even overnight, without needing humans to oversee it. Plus, when it’s conducted automatically, this can also reduce the risk of human error.
- Saves time and money - Testing can be time-consuming. Though automation may require an initial investment, it can save money in the long run to become more cost-effective. Team members use their time in other areas and are no longer required to carry out manual testing in many situations. This improves their workflow.
How can enterprises utilize automation?
Enterprises should be utilizing automation in order to improve their business processes and operating systems, particularly those in the technology industry. Automation provides valuable tools for businesses to use to their advantage, whether that be for improving product delivery times or to meet increasing security standards.
Once you have established which test you’ll be using, you need to set goals as a benchmark to see how it performs. Without setting goals, it’s going to be difficult for you to utilize the test result to its full potential. Keep focused on this one objective, and don’t be afraid to run separate tests where needs be. Consider what it is you’re trying to achieve, and how this test can help you do that.
Divide your tests into logical, smaller tests. Larger, more complex tests, are more difficult to run. Team members that aren’t writing test code can be moved to other areas of the product development process to better utilize their time. Utilizing automation is all about making testing easier and improving business practices.
This graph gives us a glimpse into the future, showing how machines may soon be able to complete work previously carried out by humans:
Which tests should be automated?
It’s not possible to automate all testing at once. So, you need to decide which tests to automate first. Let’s look at the kind of tests that can benefit from automation and therefore should be automated:
- Tests that can lead to failure because of human error
- Repetitive and monotonous tests
- Extensive tests that require multiple data sets
- Tests that can’t be performed manually
- Tests that would take a lot of time manually
- High-risk tests
- Tests that need to run on several different hardware and/or software platforms
What are the types of automation testing?
There are five key types of automation testing. Each can be used in different circumstances, depending on the application under test. You can analyze each one to see which would be best for you, or you can test them out with a trial. This is sometimes the best way to know which tool you should be using. Here are the main types of automation testing tools:
Code analysis consists of different testing tools, including dynamic analysis and static analysis. You can apply different ones to tackle separate tests. For instance, some look for possible security flaws, while others check for usability. To run these tests, the developer will need to write code. Once this has been done, though, there’s no human interference for the rest of the testing process.
Unit testing is all about checking individual components of the software or product, as you would developing iOS technology for an iPhone or Android for Samsung. This means that each element of the software is fully tested before the finished version is. These tests can be written by developers, but now that automation testing has come into play, there’s no need.
Businesses would typically deploy these types of tests in the software development phase of the production process.
This graph shows the unit test life cycle:
Integration tests, also known as end-to-end tests, are often more complicated to set up than some other tests. The application models are integrated and tested as a group. This means that communication between each module can be tested, to figure out how well they work as a whole.
Automated accepted tests
Automated accepted tests (AAT) are similar to behavior-driven development (BDD) and automated acceptance test-driven development (AATDD). The acceptance test is created before a new feature is developed. It sets a precedent for the feature to meet and is usually written by developers, the business, and quality assurance (QA) in tandem. In future, they can also be used as regression tests.
This type of testing is used to check whether the product is stable or not. If it’s not stable, it gets sent back to the developers marked as an ‘unstable build’. They can then run further tests if needed to identify the root cause of the problem. This diagram shows how the smoke test process works:
The automation test process
The automaton test process should be something the team is familiar with tech pros, and particularly developers. Wondering how to start automation testing from scratch? Here’s a rundown of the automation test process, from selecting the test tool to execution.
Select the test tool to utilize
We’ve been through the different types of automation testing. Now’s the time to select which one best suits your needs. For instance, if your goal is to detect a specific bug within the software, you may be more inclined to use code analysis automation testing.
You can select from a wide range of test automation tools and web apps on the market, such as Selenium IDE, WebDriver, UFT, Ranorex, Cucumber, Testcomplete, and Appium. You should be able to access some on Microsoft with many offering a tutorial on how to use them. Some are even open source. So you’ll need to have a solid understanding of each tool and how it could benefit your testing.
Establish the scope of automation
This refers to the area test that will be automated, and how big it’s going to be. In this step, you will walk through your team’s state, prepare the test data and the environment in which the test is to take place. Automated testing means that human interference is rarely needed, so you can leave the test to run when you’re away.
Here are some additional factors to consider when determining the scope of your automation testing:
- The complexity of the test
- The main goals of the testing
- How many resources and business components are used
- Technical feasibility
The planning stage will look at creating a testing strategy. This includes your automation test tool and how you’re going to use it, your framework design and features, and your goals. What do you want to discover by the end of the testing? You will also need to create a detailed timeline for scripting and executing test cases with the development team who will be carrying out the tests. You will also have to consider in-scope and out-of-scope items of automation.
The execution stage
This is the penultimate stage in the automation testing process. Now you have your test tool and strategy, it’s time to run your test. Depending on the test you chose, your developers may need to write code, learn Web Services Description Language (WDSL), and run the test automatically from the get-go with the tool’s API or user interface.
API testing may also be necessary before you begin. Your automated tests will also generate a report for you to analyze with the rest of your team. It provides a summary of the testing so far. This can be used in future tests to compare.
Ongoing maintenance should be part of your automation testing process. This is particularly needed if you plan on running tests in the future with your reusable test scripts. Because even though you’ll have a script ready to use, they will still need to be updated by the time you run your next test if your tool has changed.
Ongoing maintenance also provides reassurance as the team makes their way to the next stage, or backtracks to run another test. When a method has been repeatedly tried and tested, you’re more likely to be provided with an accurate outcome.
Finding the right tools to make automation a breeze
Automation can truly change the way you run your business. Now is the time to embrace new technology, and learn methodologies to make the working day run more effectively and efficiently. Don’t be afraid to trial a few different tools to see which one works best for you. After all, each business is different, and so is the software or products you are creating.
Remember the following steps:
- Selecting the test tool
- Establishing the scope of the automation
- Planning and strategy
- Ongoing test maintenance
Using automated testing is the best way to ensure your business stays on top of debugging, defects, and issues that can quickly turn the production process sour if not ironed out as soon as possible.
Need help with your QA strategy? Book a call with one of our Quality Consultants for a free consultation.