When you’re faced with individual tasks of a few days to a week in duration – more like small independent projects – is test automation a reasonable option? It might seem counter-intuitive to automate small projects, but test automation can actually be a big time saver here.

One overlooked aspect of automation, especially when dealing with tight time constraints, is the creation of setup tools. Often, the execution of a particular test is the least part of the effort, as considerable environmental setup and data preparation is required prior to execution.

This setup and prep work can often be done with an automation script that is useful across multiple tests that have the same basic environmental requirements. Once created, the script is triggered manually to prepare for each iteration of the manual tests it supports.

Another possibility is to perform repetitive test steps that are part of a manual, functional test. An example from a recent QualityLogic project was a test where test techs needed to fill out and submit hundreds of login screens to test an array of different web service sites. There were only six different versions of the login screen used across all these sites, so we created automated test scripts to fill in the login information. The manual tester simply had to access the screen, trigger the appropriate script to fill it out and click the Submit button.

Automation can be used anywhere that test steps require repetitive activities that don’t change from one iteration of the test to the next. This is true even when the tests themselves are relatively simple and direct.

Have you automated test setups or test assist scripts? How has it worked for you?