Test Automation Metrics: how to improve your automated testing effectiveness and ROI
Today, software development companies have a goal not only to create high-quality products but also to do this within the shortest possible time frame keeping up with the hectic pace of modern life. In these terms, test automation is a powerful technique that can considerably speed up product delivery without loss of quality. Yet, test automation requires significant upfront investments, and without proper measurement of its efficiency, it can be just a waste of money.
To reach success, it is essential to know how to define values indicating that the goals have been achieved. Here, metrics come. Metrics are a set of measures presenting certain characteristics. As for automated testing metrics, these are metrics leveraged to measure the effectiveness of the introduced automated testing.
A thorough analysis of test automation through the collected metrics helps identify its weaknesses and strengths. Therefore, you have an excellent opportunity to define the components of the automated testing that must undergo improvement in order to make it yield benefits and considerably boost return on investment.
Now, as you intimately understand the significance of automated testing analysis, let's consider in detail metrics that require particular attention.
The most important metrics of automation testing
Essentially, automation testing can be assessed with hundreds of metrics. Below you can find the most important of them that can provide you with really valuable insights.
Time of automation testing execution
The core mission of automation testing is to shorten the total test execution time. Therefore, you should measure how much time it takes to complete the whole testing to make sure that automation testing indeed helps save time.
Script Maintenance Time
To provide effective automation testing, it is needed to maintain your scripts continuously. In these terms, it is important to measure the time spent on this maintenance as it provides insight into the overall value of your test automation. If script maintenance is extremely time-consuming, automation testing may be useless.
Percentage of automated tests in total test coverage
Automated tests constitute a certain part of the total test coverage. The percentage of automated tests helps evaluate the progress of a test automation initiative. Besides, using this information, you can correspondingly tweak your test strategy and cover more test scenarios with scripts if it makes sense.
If your purpose is to automate 100% of automatable test cases, you should monitor the number of actual automated test cases to track your progress towards the goal and gain maximum test coverage.
The metric measures linearly separate paths that are checked by automated tests. For path coverage, comprehensive testing is a must that contributes to the quality of the overall testing process. Still, it must be noted that the number of paths grows along with the number of branches, and it represents a certain challenge.
Requirements coverage tracks the number of software features covered with automated tests. It is an essential measure of automated testing maturity. Still, this metric can be rather vague. The thing is that a test can verify not the whole functionality but only its certain part.
The ratio of relevant test results to irrelevant ones
During a test run, some automated tests can fail. If failures are fueled by defects in software, test results are relevant. However, when test failures are triggered by the issues within test scripts, test results are irrelevant. The high rate of irrelevant test results is a sign of the low efficiency of test automation. In this case, you should pursue a thorough investigation to identify problems and improve the automated testing process.
The number of broken builds
If you have implemented a CI/CD process, it is an essential metric that calculates the number of builds having been broken by the automated tests. Therefore, you can determine the quality of the code created by QA engineers.
The number of bugs detected during a test run
The number of defects detected in the course of a test run can also help to evaluate the effectiveness of automated tests.
The number of bugs in production
While the aim of any QA team is to define bugs at the early stages of software development, some bugs still sneak into production. For this reason, it is advisable to track these bugs in order to define the gaps and weaknesses of your test automation process and provide catching similar bugs before software release in the future.
The number of critical defects in production
As it has been mentioned, in spite of all efforts a number of bugs are always detected after release but if among them there are critical ones it is a great problem witnessing serious gaps in the automation process.
Which automation testing metrics are supposed to be good?
As well as any other metrics, automated testing metrics must have clearly determined objectives for the automation effort. They do not serve a purpose to measure just for the sake of measurement. To be helpful, a metric must have a relation to the performance of an effort.
In fact, an automated testing metric is considered to be good if it has such characteristics:
It is unbiased;
It is measurable;
It is simple;
It is insightful;
Its data can be effortlessly collected;
It can indicate areas of test automation that require improvement.
All in all, a good metric is clear and objective, it can be measured, it does not require colossal effort to get the data for the metric, it helps to define the value of automation and offers useful insights into the improvement of automated testing,
How to use automation testing metrics properly
As for the measurement of test automation efficiency, it is vital to set the goals and choose proper metrics that as we said should be unbiased, measurable, insightful, and simple.
To gain valuable insights and accurate results, you should also utilize automation testing metrics properly. That is why we recommend sticking to the following plan:
Define the information provided by metrics
You should view a full picture of automation to use the right metrics providing you with accurate and complete data. The right choice of automation testing metrics helps you avoid misleading results.
Carry out analysis
To get the most out of a metric, you have to analyze it thoroughly.
Filter the outcomes
Metrics may provide you with irrelevant data. For this reason, it is advised to study and analyze outcomes to select useful information demonstrating the important parameters of automation testing.
Do not ignore complicated tests
It is pretty easy to get statistics on unit tests. Meanwhile, more complicated tests like integration or acceptance tests require more redundant tracking and thorough analysis. However, the invested effort will be justified with valuable insights.
How to improve test automation effectiveness and ROI
Test automation can bring numerous benefits. Still, its implementation requires significant investments. That is why it is essential to get the best out of it and ensure high ROI. Below, you can find some useful tips that can help you succeed with this.
Thorough feasibility analysis
You can have a temptation to automate every single test case. Still, it is important to keep in mind that extensive automation can be neither cost-effective nor efficient. Getting down to automation initiatives, you need to choose the suitable test scenarios. Comprehensive automation feasibility analysis enables you to identify such test scenarios. In these terms, it is advised to pay attention to such factors as the functional requirements of your AUT, dependencies, possible risks, test case priority, etc.
As a rule, it makes sense to automate test cases that are repetitive, time-incentive, require multiple data sets, prone to human errors, and must be run on various hardware or/and OS.
Cloud-based test automation
As there is a need to consider a great diversity of platforms and browsers, cloud infrastructure can be beneficial for comprehensive testing and ROI boosting. Using cloud infrastructure, you can effectively maintain testing on numerous platforms, browsers, devices while reducing expenses and improving testing effectiveness.
Relevant test data
Quality test data plays an important role in successful and effective test automation. Data must have the proper size and involve comprehensive information that corresponds with testing requirements. Besides, various data sets must be grouped and categorized properly. You should regularly review the data used for testing to make sure that it has not got outdated.
To be effective, automated tests must be reusable. In these terms, automated tests must not be affected by any UI changes. In such a way, all the UI objects and properties must be identified and located. The unique names of the controls also ensure test stability and resistance to UI changes. This approach provides smooth work of automated tests.
To provide effective test automation, you should take into consideration continuous software evolution. Therefo re, it is recommended to have test plans with smaller and independent test cases rather than a monolithic testing architecture. You should build test suites that can be easily maintained to keep up with software development.
Appropriate automation framework
An appropriate automation framework meets project requirements, includes everything that a good test automation solution needs, cuts down code maintainability costs, and enables smooth integration into the CI/CD pipeline. Using an appropriate automation framework, you can significantly improve overall productivity, as well as save a lot of time and effort.
It is important to regularly analyze your test automation to ensure its effectiveness, uncover pain points, and find ways for optimization. The mentioned in the article metrics can come in handy in this case. You should never ignore these metrics if you wish to achieve excellent results.
Automated testing is indeed a boon for QA teams as with its introduction it is possible to deliver high-quality products while significantly cutting down the time and resources required for test completion. Still, to take advantage of the whole host of benefits provided by automation testing it is vital to analyze it on an ongoing basis. For this purpose, it is necessary to define metrics to be collected during the automated testing run. There are a great number of automated testing metrics and which ones to choose depends on your goals. In this article, the most common metrics have been presented. Finally, it must be noted that not every metric is considered to be valuable but those that can provide a QA team with insights on the weak spots of automated testing. All in all, the main aim of the metrics is to let QA teams understand whether automated testing is indeed efficient or define what can be improved to receive better outcomes.