How to Understand When It’s Time to Introduce Autotests to Your Project

Hanna Tsikhachova

Hanna Tsikhachova

Senior QA Engineer, QA Consultant

Quality Assurance
Aug 9, 2022
8 minutes to read
views
  1. What is test automation?
  2. Why test automation is important
  3. When to use automated software testing
  4. Test automation best practices
  5. Conclusion

No matter what your product is, its quality is of primary importance. Therefore, you need to introduce solid testing processes to your project. Both manual and automated testing ensure the flawless work of the developed functionality and its user-friendliness. In this piece, Andersen’s QA experts will provide insights about test automation, which is a modern trend in the IT sphere. Does every project need autotests? When is the right time to turn to automation? What processes should you automate first? Read on to learn when to seek help from a test automation company to ensure your project succeeds.

What is test automation?

In the case of manual testing, all verifications are performed by QA engineers who are in charge of product quality. They take on the role of users, simulating situations according to the task requirements and recording the results. Some parts of the functionality might work incorrectly. When a manual tester finds these defects, they create a document describing the problem, or the bug, and pass it on to a software developer. After the bug is fixed, the QA engineer rechecks the functionality.

Test automation is an approach that necessitates the usage of dedicated software. The testing is performed according to scripts written by a QA automation engineer. The software emulates various activities, such as user actions, field validations, sending API requests, connecting to databases, loading on apps, and more.

Once written, autotests are executed as often as needed. If there are defects in some parts of an app, autotests will fail to execute and provide error descriptions that are transferred to developers. After the bugs are fixed, autotests are run again to recheck the functionality.

In test automation, the same steps are performed as in manual testing, however, they are done by a robot program and not by a human. Autotests are designed to help teams test faster and release new functionality more often. While it takes from two to four days to test a piece of functionality manually, autotests are able to cover it in several hours. This is especially useful for IT products that are constantly growing.

Why test automation is important

Despite its popularity, automation testing is a relatively new direction in IT. Therefore, there are some myths about it. Businesses often appeal to test automation believing that it will solve all their problems so that they can shift away from manual testing and release new functionality more often. However, just as with everything else, test automation has its advantages and disadvantages.

The most compelling benefits autotests offer are the following:

  • Autotests run while you sleep; they don't get tired or miss an error because of family problems. They can be integrated with a project’s CI and run every night or each time the test stand is rebuilt.

  • Testing frameworks often allow tests to be run in different browsers, devices, and on several environments with different settings.

  • Autotests are faster than manual testers.

  • Autotests emulate the actions of multiple users. This comes in handy when testing financial systems and online stores. When the testing is performed by several manual testers, the correct functioning of a system doesn't mean that nothing will break when the app is at its peak load, e.g. when there is a sale in an online store.

  • Properly organized test automation will help you to reduce the cost of testing.

  • Autotests provide test results in a convenient and easily readable format, if the reporting feature has been properly set up.

  • Autotests free up time for manual testers who, released from monotonous work, will be able to devote more time to writing and supporting test documentation, as well as to testing new features that haven’t been automated yet. This is an important advantage, as Statista reveals that 32% of all software projects fail because teams simply lack the time to perform testing carefully.

In-Demand Software Development Project

Along with the above pros, autotests also have cons, the most common of which are presented below:

  • Autotests can break after even the smallest changes to the code, requiring time for their refactoring.

  • An autotest only checks what it is programmed to check. For example, if a script validates that the link has been opened, the test won't fail if it opens with a 404 error. Therefore, the validation should be performed very carefully.

  • Automated QA testing is rather expensive since it requires the work of qualified specialists and doesn’t pay off immediately.

  • Autotests can’t be implemented for all testing types as some of them can’t be automated, e.g. usability testing, installation testing, and so on. There are also pieces of functionality for which the implementation of autotests comes with difficulties, e.g. opening files in a third-party program. In these cases, it is rational to leave the verification to manual testers.

  • Autotest support requires a substantial amount of time, in fact, supporting old tests can take a QA automation engineer more time than writing new ones, especially if the coverage of an app with autotests is high.

To sum up, using autotests on a project significantly increases code reliability and product safety. When implemented thoughtfully, it gives significant benefits to a project. However, test automation can’t guarantee complete success. As it is a sophisticated process both in terms of writing code and organizing the work in teams, unprofessionally implemented automation will cost you more and take more time than if you didn’t have it at all. That's why working on large and complicated systems necessitates the involvement of qualified QA automation engineers with vast experience who will closely collaborate with the customer.

When to use automated software testing

Not every project needs test automation. In some cases, manual testing reinforced by additional scripts will turn out to be more effective. This being said, automation offers considerable benefits for long-term projects. There are cases when autotests were successfully implemented even after several years of product development.

When you opt for test automation on your project, you might wonder when to implement it. From our experience, automated testing is a good option in the following cases:

  • Regression testing is taking too much time as there are lots of manual tests that are delaying releases, and you can’t afford to fall behind your competitors.

  • Your team is supporting existing functionality on a long-term project.

  • You want to be sure that the newly written code won't break old features, which often happens in large teams with many developers working in parallel.

  • Preparation of test data is taking too much time or can’t be carried out manually, as with the case of performance testing.

  • Your teamwork has worked on the product for more than six months. Usually, at this point, unchanging fu