The dynamics of the industry is changing rapidly with demand for quick development cycles, short turnarounds, faster delivery to market, and better testing at all levels of the value chain. To conform to these requirements, especially in the Agile-DevOps development model, manual testing should give way to test automation. This is due to the fact that manual testing is time-consuming, prone to error, and not comprehensive in its scope. However, it cannot be replaced entirely as there are areas where manual testing is essential. So, when it is about adopting automated software testing in the SDLC and test products in an omnichannel environment, why enterprises often hesitate to take the plunge?
Notwithstanding the benefits of taking an automated testing approach, it is not always easy to shift the major part of the test environment from manual testing. The various challenges testers or other stakeholders face in doing so are:
Complexity and learning curve: If the manual testing process is working well and the team is well-acquainted with its nitty-gritties, there might be a reluctance to learn about something new. Further, test automation can entail a steep learning curve, which testers may not be willing to invest their time in. Moreover, they may be wary of not achieving optimum results in the initial stages of implementation.
Time constraints: Given the pressure of delivering quick releases, manual testers may be busy writing test scripts or planning test strategies for the upcoming product releases. Hence, there is often a premium on time to learn about a new process let alone implement it.
Reluctance from the top: QA automation testing may take a longer time to show results, which makes the top management reluctant to invest their time and resources. Further, implementing test automation would mean hiring a trainer, apportioning adequate time for training, and investing in acquiring costly tools. And given the stiff competition and the propensity to cut costs, enterprises want to keep their balance sheets under control.
Maintenance: The automated software testing suite needs to be stable, efficient, reusable, and easy to maintain. Besides, the suite should be scalable to facilitate regression testing, which becomes important after every version release. Also, the suite should have the mechanism for reporting, setting up and removing test environments, and cleaning of test data, without which the quality of testing may be compromised.
The first step towards adopting a test automation strategy is to define the scope. Since not every process can be automated, defining the scope is essential to understand what to automate and how much to automate. So, let us understand the two requirements – what and how much to automate?
- To allow the effective testing of frequently released products, it is better to automate smoke and regression testing on a priority basis as they are time-consuming.
- The functionalities that are complex and preferred from the perspective of fulfilling the business objectives should be automated.
- Areas like testing the compatibility of the software on multiple devices, browsers, and operating systems should be automated as the testing environments can be virtualized.
Taking an automated testing approach would mean starting in small steps. For example, it is better to write smaller test cases to ensure better maintenance and reusability, if needed. Further, the test cases should be properly mapped for better coverage.
Choosing the right tool: Any QA automation testing involves writing test scripts using tools. However, choosing an appropriate tool would depend on factors such as application’s domain (web-based or mobile-based), compatibility with programming languages, and cost (open-source or premium.) For example, to test any web-based application, one can choose tools such as QTP or Selenium while Robotium or Appium can be chosen to test any mobile-based application.
Setting up the test grid: Test grid refers to the environment in which the automated tests will be executed. It consists of devices, operating systems, browsers and their multiple variants. Although it is advisable to automate tests on real devices, operating systems, and browsers, these can be created virtually as well. Further, the test grid should allow parallel testing wherein simultaneous testing on multiple device platforms can be performed saving time. It is better to select a cloud-based grid so that testers need not spend time and effort in updating and maintaining the cloud-based grid.
Test automation is arguably the most critical requirement in software testing as it allows savings on time and cost. However, care must be taken to allow the transition from manual to automation seamlessly. A successfully run test automation suite can help to execute regression testing and keep the functioning of the CI/CD pipeline on track.