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.