No student would go into a test without studying and expect to receive a high score. Similarly, tech companies that want a positive testing experience should review best practices before committing to automation tools.
This article will review the definition of test automation and why it is needed. We'll list the benefits of automated software testing, discuss 8 test automation best practices, and end by pointing you to a great resource that will help you hire the right team.
Think of this as test prep homework. Let's jump right in, shall we?
What is automated testing?
You should have learned this last year, but if you still need to, let's review.
Simply put, test automation is a way to ensure the software does what it is supposed to. The automation aspect describes testing methods that use a program designed to assess code functionality automatically. The idea is that with automation, the computer runs the test and tracks the results instead of a human developer.
How does automated testing work?
Automated testing verifies code function before it is released. Test scripts tell the computer what to look for when testing. Test automation uses repetitive tasks on thousands of unit tests instead of a developer initiating the same command repeatedly, like manual testing.
During automated tests, an automation tool tests software by analyzing the code to ensure the existing functionality matches up with the expected functionality. The application may run thousands of tests simultaneously to find and fix bugs in real time.
Testing helps create high-quality software and removes bugs and potential future problems. Automated testing is ideal for projects with vast amounts of data that would be impossible to verify manually.
Steps in Automated Testing
Define parameters of testing
- What is the goal?
Choose a testing tool
- What program will you use?
Create automation strategy
- What is the big-picture plan?
Design the test
- What are the steps included in the plan?
Execute the test
- What are the results?
Benefits of Automation Tools
Implementing test automation saves your company time and money in several ways. Consider the following:
Shorter development cycle
Automated testing helps teams find problems before the finished product is sent to the client. Frequent testing ensures bugs are detected early on in the development phase. The faster problems are found and corrected, the shorter time to final development.
Faster, thorough testing process
Test automation allows developers to test more code faster. It also eliminates the need for constant monitoring from a human tester. It frees up time for developers to write more in-depth tests and ensures every aspect of the code is thoroughly tested.
Once developers create tests and combine them into an automated test suite, they can easily reuse tests without building something from scratch.
Automated testing helps eliminate human error. Once the test suite is perfected, software development can rest assured it will catch even the most minor issues. The ability to produce consistent tests that boast perfect accuracy is one of the main reasons companies adopt automated systems.
Improved team morale
Automated testing saves developers time and reduces the need to test every new feature manually. Automation tools also improve inter-team communication as everyone from design, marketing, and development can access the test results to see what's happening. Using the right tool can be helpful and make working more enjoyable.
Best Practices of Automated Testing
Below is a list of 8 automated testing best practices for a positive testing experience.
Decide which tests to automate
It may be a surprise, but only some features will benefit from automated testing. To help determine which to test, consider the scope and size of your data points. Applications with vast amounts of data, those prone to human error, or those spanning multiple projects are ideal for automated testing. Trivial aspects of the application may not benefit from testing as it takes more effort than it's worth to create tests.
Additionally, sometimes automation tools aren't the correct choice-- some tasks are better performed manually. Human testers are better equipped to run exploratory testing, perform visual tests, and test the usability of the user interface.
Allow collective test ownership
Automated testing is dependent upon team knowledge. Sharing responsibilities and results with the entire team allows automation testers to impart skills to others. It helps ensure that all team members understand the process.
Remember that when sharing ownership, there still needs to be a method to the madness. It is a good idea to divide testing efforts based on skill. When implementing automation software, it is critical to ensure your automation engineer or software developer has the right programming skills. Quality assurance team members can also write test scripts without extensive training if your company uses proprietary technology. How your team divides testing responsibilities depends on the company's hires and process.
Choose the right tech
A simple Google search will show hundreds of automated software options available. Knowing how to sift through results and selecting the appropriate test automation tools for your needs is essential. When choosing which tech will work best for you, consider the following:
Is this tech open-source?
What frameworks and languages match up with our programmers' experience?
What are the testing requirements?
Every testing suite has its own set of strengths and weaknesses, no matter which tech you choose.
Test early and often
One of the most important best practices is to start testing early. Timely testing is key to creating successful code as it eliminates bugs in the early stages of development. Teams that introduce tests at the initial stages of development save their company time and money. If one starts testing early, the cost of fixing the bugs can be significantly less.
Not only is it important to test early, but the frequency of testing is also essential. Running multiple tests throughout the development cycle increases code effectiveness and safety. Frequent, data-driven testing results in better applications overall.
The goal of automation tests is consistent results. To achieve this, developers must remove unstable, failing tests. Examples of test failure are regression tests, false positives, and inconsistent test data.
When writing test cases, it is a good idea to ensure your testing parameters are not dependent on more than they have to be. For example, automated tests that ask the computer to think in human time and use terms like "today" and "yesterday" can break easily. Such tests fail often and may need to be removed or rewritten.
Keep tests simple and focused
The phrase "don't bite off more than you can chew" applies to many areas, including test automation best practices. Software developers can get into trouble when automating tests if they try to do too much at once. The best course of action is to focus on the essential application goals and test those first. Once teams have run tests based on basic functionality and ensured the test results check out, they can move on to more detailed aspects of the application. This common practice results in a quick initial release followed by subsequent releases as features are refined and updated.
Ensure notifications of failure
The best automated tests immediately notify software developers or team leads when something breaks. A notification system is essential to fixing code quickly before the application is released for customer use.
Once the developer is aware of the issue, they can target quick fixes that will not disrupt the current functionality of the application. The key to the correct resolution of errors should be based on immediate feedback to prevent any further issues.
Develop code with testing in mind
Effective automated testing relies heavily on how the software developer wrote the code in the first place. It is essential to keep this cyclical relationship of test-driven development in mind. Software developers should know when they write code that they, or someone on their team, will eventually have to create a test to verify that code. Those that generate code with this in mind will find that the entire testing process runs more smoothly. Remember: Test complexity follows code complexity. For better or worse, the more complicated and detailed your code, the more intricate the testing will have to be to keep up.
There you have it-- 8 test automation best practices that will help you have a positive testing experience.
Are you looking for more? Read on for tips on how to hire the right people for your testing team.
How do I build a great testing team?
Now that you know the best practices for successful automation and the benefits of test automation tools, it's time to put that knowledge to good use. Assembling the right team for your project will have a significant impact on the overall success of your test automation strategy. Testing teams can include automation engineers, software developers, quality assurance, and testing experts.
But where do you find these highly skilled people? A recruiting agency like TalentCrowd makes finding and hiring talent simple. Businesses that team up with TalentCrowd list the requirements, positions, and qualifications they are looking for and then let the TalentCrowd hiring team do the sifting for them. TalentCrowd will connect your company with qualified candidates who meet your requirements-- taking you one step closer to building your ideal testing team.
Here's a quick look at all that we learned during our test prep:
Automated testing aims to verify that the written code does what it should. Automation testing benefits companies by saving time and money, improving accuracy, shortening development, and boosting team morale.
Best practices include:
- Deciding which tests to automate.
- Allowing collective test ownership.
- Choosing the right tech.
- Testing early and often.
- Removing uncertainty.
- Keeping tests simple and focused.
- Ensuring notifications of failure.
- Developing code with testing in mind.
TalentCrowd can help you find talent for your entire software team, including testing experts, developers, and quality assurance. For more information and to start building your team today, check out talentcrowd.com.