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Millan Kaul
Millan Kaul

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5 misconceptions regarding test automation

These are the top five things you should remember about software testing and quality assurance when it comes to test automation.

A super quick background

I used to think that test automation is a some magical capability and 100% automation meant :

No more Bugs !
No more checks !!
No more manual Testing !!!

Very soon did I realised, not only that I was mistaken but also wrong to a larger extent….

Why ?

Flash-back: A decade ago somewhere around 2011. When software used to be released annually also called as waterfall model. ( in some companies it still exists, depending on the nature of project such as long term Gov projects ).

I was a junior test engineer back then. And I always thought that one day I will get the chance, a golden chance to learn testing tools with hands on. And to change the world of software testing.

Which meant: testing with tool that costs to the company. And only handful of senior engineers used to do test automation ( HP QTP) or performance testing (Load Runner).

Well I did it. I mean not change the world kind of thing but in next few years I got hands on with :

1\. Web using selenium Java

2\. Mobile using Appium

3\. REST API with Hibernate, newman in CI..

4\. Performance testing with LR/K6  
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and many more….

It was exciting and I really enjoyed the learning phase ( I still do...)

But with my experience I realised many things that I understood early were proving me wrong.

With that said here are the top “5 misconceptions on test automation”

1. Automation can replace 100% manual testing

Handful of companies can run test automation in production. Few due to limitation of test data and some due to legal and compliance . So you usually do testing manually.

For example if you are a part of banking project, you login to bank account ( web/app ) using your own account.

# Do you run automation in such cases ? NO

2. Automation Testing is a rare and hard skill.

..the average adult human brain has the ability to store the equivalent of 2.5 million gigabytes digital memory. Reference this article

While that is a Hard-disk comparison. If we talk about memorising power or computing, its much higher. At least much higher than test automation currently available. AI + Test automation would be an interesting future article.

I guess that argument is enough to cover the fact.

# Automation Testing is a rare and hard skill. ? NO

3. Automation makes your job easy ..easily

May be yes only when it comes to re-testing. Regression testing.

But NO when:

  • We are building test automation framework itself
  • We are maintaining test frameworks
  • When test environments are not stable
  • When test data is a root issue.
  • When your projects needs more exploratory testing of new features.


# Automation makes your job easy ..easily ? NO

4. More automation means less bugs

This is a big one !

Usually such misconceptions surfaces from management expectation. Where everything is celebrated on percentage (%) of coverage rather than quality of coverage.

While having more and more automation is not a bad idea, But what if we have 100% automation and that covers zero (0) negative scenarios.

Once again unscripted testing such as exploratory testing is a best tool. With that you have the independence to test fast and get results on negative scenarios.

# More automation means less bugs NO

5. Manual testing is a dead skill, Test automation holds the future

This will never happen and ideally this should not happen.

Over the time test first approach such as #TDD ( Test driven development) approach where:

  • You decide on a test ( business scenario)
  • Write a test first , which fails right away
  • Then you write development code to achieve it and mark as PASS
  • Again you pick another test and develop..

Another great example is #accessibility testing of web and mobile apps.

Successful teams maintain the balance of trusted manual testers and automation testers. But remember manual testing has its own charm and why not , its a critical thinking skill.

# Manual testing is a dead skill, Test automation holds the future ? NO

Key takeaway :

Automation is a compliment to manual testing not a substitution !

Image credit: Zan | Originally posted on medium in Sep 2021

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