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When to Utilize Test Automation?

30 August, 2016 | Post by SQA²

The SQA2 Blog: Advice Center, Automation

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Starting Test Automation

The biggest challenge in utilizing test automation for software testing is knowing when to make that transition.  Manual testing is often the easiest form of software testing to implement because you can simply hire manual testers to execute tests for you.  Automated testing is not as simple; automation has many pre-requisites: coding ability, selecting software testing tools, and deciding which tests to automate. Many companies opt for the path of least resistance and choose to start with manual testing. However, they are quickly in unmanageable situations because there are too many tests to execute manually.  Timing is everything, and I’ll try to help you identify potential timing windows in which to start the transition over to automation.

Some assumptions I will be making in this blog are that you understand the pros and cons of manual testing versus automated testing.  This blog will help you understand whether the time is right for you to transition to automated testing.

Prime Opportunity – Beginning of Software Development

There is excellent value in adopting a manual test strategy to start the test process. Software development and software testing are intertwined, therefore the amount of software features directly impacts the amount of required testing.  At the beginning of development, there simply will not be as many testable features as there will be as development progresses.  This makes manual testing the logical choice.

However, this is an awesome point to start laying the foundation for test automation.  Bringing in the right Quality Assurance (QA) Engineers takes time, and even after hiring, those engineers will need time to master your application.  While the need for automation is at a relative low and the featureset is still simple, it’s the perfect time to develop the test automation framework.

Next Best – First Regression Tests

Regression testing, which involves a lot of repeated testing of the same features, is the perfect candidate for automation.  The typical approach to regression testing is to manually execute them.  While this is fine when there aren’t as many features to regression test, this quickly becomes an increasingly difficult task to manage. Developing new features continuously takes place, which requires additional regression tests. The additional regression tests ensure previously developed and tested features are not broken.

While manual execution of regression tests is still possible at all stages of development, it really becomes a question of how much money the company is willing to invest in hiring manual testers to execute them.   Throwing money (and time) at a problem isn’t always the most effective or most efficient way of solving a problem.  Test automation can greatly improve test efficiency, test effectiveness and test coverage.  And automating regression testing is a prime area to focus on.

If automation hasn’t been an option for your company up to now, this is another good point in the development process to invest in test automation.  Converting existing regression tests into automated tests after completing the framework.  Automating new regression tests also keeps you on track.

Never Too Late – Neck Deep in Regression and Manual Testing

Invest in test automation, especially when immersed in regression and manual testing!  After deploying the automation framework, you will reap immediate benefits. Specifically the time-saving benefit by having the repeatable and mundane regression/manual tests automated.

Conclusion

While beginning automation at any stage of the development and test process is better than not having any automation at all, it’s clear that the best time to develop test automation is at the beginning.  Getting the necessary QA Engineers takes time, getting those engineers up-to-speed takes time and developing the automation tests takes time.  Getting a head start on these things is important. It assure all the necessary pre-requisites are in place when automated regression testing is needed.

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