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The Role of Automation Software Testing in Software Development

Aug 4, 2020
8 min read

All software teams test their products, yet the ultimate solutions often have defects. Although most test engineers try to detect these problems in the testing environment, they often make their way into the final product despite our best efforts. 

One of the reasons this happens is that even the best manual testing processes have their limitations. Testers make a lot of effort devising manual testing procedures. They sit in front of a computer, go through various application screens carefully, and experiment with many input and usage combinations.

These testers need to compare results and highlight the differences between the expected behavior and their recorded observations. They repeat these processes multiple times during development cycles because of code changes, varying hardware configurations, as well as for different operating environments.

All these complications impact the effectiveness of manual testing on a broader level and make it inefficient. This is where test automation can help software teams optimize testing procedures and improve effectiveness, efficiency, and coverage.

In this article, we will discuss the role of automated testing in software development.

What Is Test Automation? 

Test automation or automation testing is the automation test case execution and compare their results with the results you expect. In most cases, software testers perform manual testing by writing each test case separately and executing those tests carefully. We perform automation testing using various automation tools that help us run test cases effectively.

Most software testers use test automation as a means of automating repetitive tasks and testing other tasks, which they can’t execute through manual testing. It is especially helpful in speeding up testing procedures because we can carry it out universally across functional and non-functional testing.

Importance of Test Automation

Software testing is necessary to ensure the proper functionality of core features and making products stable. Nowadays, software teams use several advanced automated testing tools to optimize the testing process of their application. 

Automated testing allows us to playback pre-recorded and predefined testing scenarios. We can compare the results that relate to our expected behavior and see whether they fail or succeed. Once we create automated tests, we can use them repeatedly and extend them to tasks that are impossible with manual testing.

Because of this, most testing managers consider automated software testing an essential part of successful development projects. Large software organizations have made automated software testing mandatory for a long time. However, now as test automation services are becoming more affordable, companies of all sizes are using it to cut down their testing cycles.

This is happening primarily because manual testing for most workflows and fields is expensive and takes a lot of time. Companies have to test evaluate several significantly different sites manually, something extremely difficult and complex.

In manual testing, software developers and testers must intervene from time to time, something we don’t need in automation testing. It also allows us to improve the speed of test execution and test coverage increases, at the same time.

Automated testing can help us improve testing procedures in several ways. However, it doesn’t mean we can apply test automation in 100% of scenarios. There are some cases where manual testing is a better option.

For instance
Exploratory testing has highly complex testing scenarios where we cannot identify errors through predefined test cases. So, here manual testing helps us create complex test cases. Moreover, user interface testing on a whole requires constant interruption from manual QA testers as they can identify failed test cases easily and design components like alignment more effectively.

Types of Automated Testing 

Automated testing can be carried out in many different ways. Here are some of the common ways experts conduct automation testing.

Functional Testing

As the name suggests, functional testing is centered on the functionality of applications. Therefore, during functional testing, testers need to evaluate whether the core functions of an application are performing optimally. 

Smoke Testing

Smoke testing includes several important features that make it different from other types of testing. Therefore, we need to understand these features to understand the fundamentals of smoke testing. 

It is often referred to as Build Verification Testing, where the build is verified by testing the important features of the application and then sent for the next levels of testing bases in test results. Test automation is great for executing these kinds of tests. 

Compatibility Testing

Compatibility testing is the type of test automation testing that focuses on the non-functional aspects of the application. As the name suggests, the procedure measures the compatibility of software against specific software, network, and hardware requirements.

Regression Testing

Testers perform regression testing to learn and validate whether a recent update in program or code change has hurt existing features or not. Since regression tests are mostly repeatable and we must partially or fully re-execute them, automation testing is the most efficient way for performing it.

When to Use Automated Software Testing

Various factors help us understand whether automated testing is ideal for a given scenario or not. Here are some of the most important factors for determining whether or not automated software testing is preferred.

Frequency of Testing

One of the most important factors you must look out for is the frequency at which you must run particular test cases. Automation testing helps us reduce repetitive and redundant testing processes. As a result, we can save significant amounts of time and resources during test automation compared to manual testing procedures.

Number of Test Cases 

The total number of test cases you have in a typical test suite can show you whether you need test automation or not. In most cases, using automated testing is not ideal when you merely have ten or fewer test cases, even if you must test these cases repetitively. 

That said, if you have a larger number of test cases at hand, it is harder to use manual testing for each one of them. Test automation makes it easier for development teams to cover a greater number of test cases and deliver better results. Whether you choose test automation over manual testing will depend strictly on the cost of using automation testing services vs. its benefits.

Importance of Features

The priority of features in an application can have a major impact on whether test automation is appropriate or not. Some features in applications have a higher likelihood of failure compared to other features.

This is why it’s best to test high priority features using test automation because it offers greater test coverage than manual testing. Because of the complexity in manual testing, the chances of missing test cases or features are higher. On the other hand, test automation reduces the likelihood of human-induced errors.

Order of Test Cases 

In many projects, software teams are compelled to test some features sooner than others. Here, these software teams must follow a pre-determined order while evaluating test cases. 

Doing this in manual testing becomes significantly time-consuming and complex because testers must refer to external sources or remember the order just by memory. In contrast, automated testing allows us to leverage timed scripts and order them as we like.

Number of Times Test Cases Are Updated 

As we leverage the power of data to streamline testing procedures, automation tests become a catalyst for keyword-driven and data-driven framework. Test automation helps us maintain and update scripts easily. It allows testers to improve the maintainability of test scripts, helping testers reuse most test cases.

Simultaneous Running Test Cases

If your testing procedures force you to run the same set of test cases simultaneously, then test automation is a given. This becomes more important if you are using more than one machine for this job.

Manual testing doesn’t allow us to configure similar test cases and run them on several machines exactly at the same time. However, test automation enables testers to schedule scripts, making it easier to configure and execute similar test cases across different machines simultaneously.

Testing Single Functionality with Multiple Data Sets

In some software components, software testers must run the same test cases with multiple data sets. This is a common problem in projects where we extract testing data from an external source (such as Excel) to each test case.

Data-driven automation testing frameworks allow us to reduce the time and effort spent in testing these cases. It ensures larger data coverage even if we have a single test case. In the same situation, manual testing teams are likely to get fed up testing the same functionality repeatedly, making them prone to missing some data sets.

Regression/Smoke Testing

As discussed above, regression testing helps testing teams ensure that the software didn’t develop any defects after adopting new functionalities in its system. These test suites have a selected number of test cases that we must test after every defect fix cycle. 

Likewise, we must run smoke testing at the beginning of each test cycle to ensure whether the basic features of an application are working according to our expectations. Automated testing is ideal for regression/smoke testing suites. This is true mostly because:

  • Smoke and regression tests rarely change
  • Smoke/regression test suites consist of a significant number of test cases
  • Smoke/regression test cases must run repeatedly whenever we introduce new functionality testing

Where Manual Testing Doesn’t Work 

In many situations, the complexities in a particular technology and platform make it impossible for a software tester to complete testing without automated tests. This happens either when the cost of manual testing is considerably higher than automated testing or when the testing scenarios are not much complex. In these situations, software testers must rely on automated testing to evaluate core software features accurately.

Testing Responsive User Interface

Automated testing platforms are useful for testing responsive user interface components. Automated test scripts test the software by quantifying the distance between images, design elements, and as well as the relative alignment of these components with each other.

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Automation Testing at PFLB

In conclusion, the need for increased test coverage across an ever-increasing range of software and devices has made test automation more important than ever. As automation continues to grow, it can be easy to forget about the wide spectrum of benefits manual testing still has to offer. Appreciating the value of both approaches will make for a wholesome testing experience.

Developing an optimized, efficient, and flexible testing strategy is fundamental for delivering high-quality software to your customers. You should be able to prioritize testing procedures, identify bugs early, automate tests, minimize risks, and distribute app resources efficiently to deliver the best experience to your users.

PFLB is a testing service dedicated to ensuring the best software quality for our clients. We have served over 500 companies across a wide variety of domains that range from finance and healthcare to retail and technology. 

With years of experience at our disposal, our testers have learned how to employ smoke testing strategically. Our in-depth knowledge of various testing procedures helps us find hidden issues in different components of the software and deliver the best solution for your business. 

Besides Test Automation, the company has expertise in other core software testing services, such as Performance Testing, Mobile Testing, Integration Testing, Usability Testing, and much more

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