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Test Automation Best Practices

by Thijs Kok, on March 22, 2022

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The use of automated testing is nothing new. It has been around—at least in some form—for decades.

But as software development methodologies evolve, so do test management tools, including those capable of facilitating manual and automated testing. And as more testers become comfortable with all things digital, organizations must find the right mix of testing approaches that fit their requirements.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to software quality assurance (QA). However, if your organization uses automated testing, it’s crucial to understand the pros and cons and how best to utilize it.

Here are some of the key things to know about automated testing, as well as some test automation best practices.

What Is Test Automation?

Automated testing is when your QA team automatically runs scripted tests within a testing tool against a software system in development. 

Instead of manually testing each function or feature, a testing tool takes pre-written test scripts and executes them to compare a predicted outcome to the actual system outcome.

After each test, the testing team will receive a binary result that determines whether the software’s performance meets expected results. 

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Test Automation

There are advantages and disadvantages to utilizing test automation as part of your team’s quality assurance process. Understanding these benefits and limitations will help your team find the best time to integrate automated testing into a larger testing approach.

Pros of Automated Testing

  • Automation can perform repetitive tasks regularly, quickly, and with high precision compared to human testers.
  • Automated test scripts can be saved and re-run across multiple projects over time, limiting the administrative burden on testing teams.
  • Automated tests can be run at various stages in the software development lifecycle to provide feedback to developers without significantly impacting project schedules.
  • Automated testing can be used in coordination with manual testing, expanding the scope of your quality assurance.

Cons of Automated Testing

  • Setting up, managing, and executing test scripts and the testing tool requires experience, including knowledge of coding.
  • A binary result (i.e., whether the expected testing outcome was observed or not) does not always capture the full end-user experience.
  • Using automated testing alone can fail to identify other issues and defects due to the binary nature of the output.
  • Because of the complexity of automated testing, it can be difficult to run other forms of testing, including usability, performance, security, and integration.
  • As software evolves, it can become difficult for testing teams to maintain and grow their test scripts without losing the intended efficiency gains.

Key Test Automation Best Practices

To maximize the effectiveness and minimize the downsides of test automation in your QA strategy, follow these key test automation best practices:

  • Test your automated test scripts against known datasets or sample software to validate the output before the scripts are run against in-development software.
  • Utilize a test management tool to ease the administrative burden of quality assurance, including test script storage, test scheduling, and the capture, prioritization, and presentation of testing results.
  • Develop a consistent way to not only write and store test scripts, but also assign them to testers and record feedback.
  • Use the test automation pyramid to balance your testing approach throughout the software development lifecycle (SDLC) and focus on the elements most likely to impact the customer experience.
  • Obtain input from your entire development team when creating test scripts to incorporate different needs and perspectives into the QA process.

Put These Test Automation Best Practices into Action

Software development best practices are constantly evolving, introducing opportunities for organizations to find new ways to deliver the experience their customers deserve.

Changes in the software quality assurance process are dynamic, but organizations that can adapt and integrate test automation best practices can ensure their place at the front of the pack.

Fortunately, integrating a test management solution like TestMonitor into your quality assurance workflow is one of the best ways to introduce these best practices.

Ready to learn more about how a solution designed for test management can take your automated testing to the next level? Then check out our recent webinar, “Automated Testing with TestMonitor.”

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