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4 Test Automation Misconceptions Explained

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Test automation is a software testing technique that uses an application to execute a select number of test automation scripts. Automated testing is performed automatically using test scripts or automation testing tools. It is an approach that has become the cornerstone of a fast-paced development cycle that helps drive a company’s competitive edge. Using test automation during the software development life-cycle provides quick feedback to the team after a new feature has been developed. It is a strategy that is especially beneficial for tests that don’t change frequently and are executed repeatedly on every new release.  

Despite the obvious benefits, many companies are still on the fence about adopting this approach. Their trepidation often stems from misconception bred from horror stories of failed attempts at automation and stories about a massive investment in a technology that didn’t provide a positive ROI. We want to address a few of those misconceptions to help you make a decision that is right for you.

Test Automation will Provide You with More Free Time

Test automation isn’t so much about creating more free time, but instead being more efficient and productive with the time spent testing. By automating repetitive tests, you can reallocate that time to running exploratory tests to verify that your application is still in good order as changes are being delivered. The downside of automating those repetitive tests is that many organizations fall into a “set-it-and-forget-it” mentality. Automated test script maintenance is one of the most crucial aspects of test automation. As the development of your product changes, so must your automation code.

The triaging and maintenance of automated tests is where most organizations tend to trip up. They don’t build that time into their initial test automation strategy and the automation project dies as a result. This is where a 3rd party testing service can be of great use. QualityLogic is regularly utilized to review test failures as well as debug and update test automation code. We are also extremely adept at helping companies develop their test automation strategy and writing automated test scripts. Utilizing an outsourced software testing company to ensure the success of your automation project allows your company to focus on developing revenue-generating code for new features and critical updates. 

While test automation requires an initial upfront investment and time to set things up the payoff comes when your team is free to focus on more important areas that help you maintain your competitive edge.  

The Costs of Automated Testing is Too High

The initial sticker shock of test automation can dim any prospect of an actual ROI. The reality, however, is that failing to perform adequate testing costs more than the initial investment. A study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NSIT) found that software defects cost the economy nearly $60 billion annually. Think you’re exempt? Think again. Imagine, just one post-deployment issue could leave an entire function of your system out of commission costing you money and customers. With that said, test automation is about much more than speed to market. It’s about catching bugs pre-deployment when they are less expensive to fix.  

Aside from the cost benefits, there are several intangible benefits that more than justify the cost. Automating repetitive tests frees up time that can allow a team to more deeply reflect on the needs and wants of the customer. The World Quality report found that ensuring customer satisfaction is the primary expected outcome for software testing teams.

Satisfied customers form the foundation of any successful business as customer satisfaction leads to repeat purchases, brand loyalty, and positive word of mouth. A recent analysis of customer satisfaction concluded:

  • A totally satisfied customer contributes 2.6 times as much revenue to a company as a somewhat satisfied customer.
  • A totally satisfied customer contributes 17 times as much revenue as a somewhat dissatisfied customer.
  • A totally dissatisfied customer decreases revenue at a rate equal to 1.8 times what a totally satisfied customer contributes to a business.

Finding the right blend of manual and automated testing can ensure that your software meets the demands of your customers and allows your team to focus on bettering the product through new features and upgrades. 

Automated Testing is Better Than Manual Testing

The tendency to compare manual testing to test automation is a mistake that could leave you facing the same problem automation was supposed to avoid. The thing is, automation and manual testing go hand-in-hand, and neither is better than the other. Both strategies complement each other in ways that allow for the most comprehensive and effective test strategy. That said, you will need to employ both at some point in your development cycles. The key is knowing when and how to implement each.   

Situations Best Suited to Test Automation

As mentioned previously, continuous integration environments require a testing approach that can keep pace. Test automation makes it possible to repeat an entire test suite as often as needed. Not only that, automated scripts can simulate multiple concurrent users to evaluate the system’s performance.    

Data-driven functions are another prime area for automation. There may be cases where the same tasks need to be validated with different inputs. Doing so manually is time-consuming and a waste of QA resources. Automating these types of tasks ensures that all possible input scenarios are accurately covered in depth. 

Lastly, static and repetitive tasks are ideal for automated scripts. Why waste time having someone manually verify things that remain relatively unchanged from one cycle to the next? Letting automated test scripts handle these tasks frees your team to work on more important items.  

Instances When Manual Testing Makes More Sense

There are scenarios where human observation is more appropriate than an automated script. For example, when the goal is testing usability,  a manual approach is best. Humans learn more about user perspective during their evaluation. They can then use this knowledge to make recommendations on how to improve the user experience.  Also, they are good at catching things the system missed. It is not uncommon for someone to find things that were never addressed as a part of the automated scripts. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, there is no substitute for the analytical observation skills required to evaluate complex systems. It may not be possible to evaluate certain features using automation. In those cases, a manual approach is necessary.  

In the end, the real question isn’t which is better than the other. The real question is, how can you capitalize on both to get the most effective results.

Automated Testing Hinders Human Interaction

Test automation doesn’t eliminate the need for human interaction. If anything, it requires more collaboration if the scripts are to be comprehensive and effective. Writing scripts can’t happen in a bubble. The most effective scripts result from a collaboration between the business analysts, developers and QA team. This sharing of ideas is what ultimately leads to a comprehensive suite of scripts that reflect the expanse of system functionality. 

It’s also important to remember that automated testing isn’t some magical set-it-and-forget-it tool that runs perfectly every single time. Scripts will need to be revised as requirements change. New cases will need to be developed as new features arise. All of this requires a feedback loop between every member of the team to keep everything in sync.  

We realize that not all projects are created equal. Our team will help you identify aspects of your system that lend well to automation and which do not. Based on that, we will devise a strategy and determine a framework that best suits your needs. With this approach, you won’t waste time and money on a ton of bulky features that you’ll never use.  

Our unique approach to test automation uses the latest in virtualization and cloud computing. As a result, we can scale our testing environment based on your needs with minimal impact to your project budget. Click here to learn more about how our test automation services and processes can help you release the highest quality software possible.  

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Gary James, President/CEO

Over the last 35+ years, Gary James, the co-founder and president/CEO of QualityLogic, has built QualityLogic into one of the leading providers of software testing, digital accessibility solutions, QA consulting and training, and smart energy testing.

Gary began his QA journey as an engineer in the 1970s, eventually becoming the director of QA in charge of systems and strategies across the international organization. That trajectory provided the deep knowledge of quality and process development that has served as a critical foundation for building QualityLogic into one of the best software testing companies in the world.

In addition to leading the company’s growth, Gary shares his extensive expertise in Quality Assurance, Software Testing, Digital Accessibility, and Leadership through various content channels. He regularly contributes to blogs, hosts webinars, writes articles, and more on the QualityLogic platforms.