Why test automation?

Software testing is an art, aimed at evaluating an attribute or capability of a program or system and determining whether it meets the expected outcomes. Software testing can be very costly and time consuming.

Hence automation is a good way to cut down time and cost.

Benefits of test automation:

Test automation provides numerous benefits to any organization. Some of them are listed below:

  • Reduced test execution time and cost
  • Increased test coverage on each testing cycle
  • Increased value of manual testing effort
  • Reduced manual work

Reasons for failure of test automation:

There are a number of reasons why test automation efforts are unproductive. Some of the most common include:

  • Poor quality of tests being automated
  • Lack of good test automation framework and process
  • Inability to adapt to changes in the system under test

Five Steps for Successful Test Automation

To avoid the above reason and to achieve the full potential of test automation, emphasis has to be given on the below steps:

  • Planning
  • Preparation
  • Proof of concept
  • Implementation
  • Maintenance

Planning

Each phase in the project must be planned with a clear view on the current testing methods and information of the infrastructure. Gather information from key people who have experience in test automation.

Preparation

During preparation phase, a pilot project should be defined and test cases that need to be automated have to be selected. Define the roles and responsibilities and prepare input test data.

Proof of Concept

The test automation tool must be configured in order to be compatible with application under test (AUT). The tool must be able to capture user actions. Since more and more application types may be being used, the configuration part is not as easy. It is possible that the test tool will not recognize the application “out-of-the-box”, which means you need to configure the tool.
Then the team needs to automate a limited amount of test cases to prove that the application can be automated. Select an easy, a normal and a complex test case. Demonstrate execution and reporting of the automated test cases to decision makers.

Implementation

If proof of concept is successful, automation of selected test cases (scope defined at preparation step) can start. Analyze selected tests, think about data separation, functional decomposition, reusability of certain business components. Modularize your script into clear-cut building blocks. During this phase, you can set up test automation framework which can vary from documentation on tool usage to a full-scaled framework based on a spreadsheet or database layer.

Maintenance

A test automation project expands together with application under test. A new release may offer new functionality that needs to be automated. The existing automated scripts need to be maintained, new automated tests need to be added and there is a possibility that other organization may take over automation project in future. Team has to prepare for these events by providing documentation for each script, by constantly allocating the proper resources for the project and by training newcomers in the tool, the script and the execution.

Conclusion

Test Automation in today’s competitive environment is much needed than desired; to keep operating efficiently and considerably cut down costs and efforts, without compromising on quality and security. However you must adopt a well planned and a structured approach to automation in order to ensure a higher return on investment. It is suggested that prior to opting for automation, QA teams need to perform an exhaustive automation assessment to identify the right set of automation methods, tools and techniques that will compliment their QA needs.

Posted by Barani Raja Murugan
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January 2nd, 2012

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