Top 5 Challenges in Automation Testing
With the advent of Agile software development methodologies, the need for extremely speedy but still effective and comprehensive software testing has emerged. As a result automation testing has become an essential part of Agile projects which require frequent iterations without loss on quantity. Today it is a well-known fact that test automation is indeed beneficial. However, there is a huge difference between test automation and successful test automation. Many teams get easily distracted and frustrated when they deal with test automation implementation for the first time. In this article, we are going to take a closer look at the challenges that QA teams most commonly face while dealing with test automation. If you have made up your mind to switch to a test automaton, read on to get valuable insights.
Why implement automated testing?
While being well-thought-out and properly implemented, automated testing can become a great and irreplaceable performance booster and product quality improver. The main reasons for the implementation of automation testing are:
Immense acceleration of QA processes is the key advantage of automation testing. Automated tests can be executed very quickly especially compared with manual testing. Besides, such tests can be run and rerun simultaneously on different platforms at any time of day or night. Testing results are compared with expected results automatically and testing reports are generated automatically as well. In such a way a ton of time can be saved.
Elimination of Human Errors
Executing the same test cases, again and again, a manual tester can easily get bored and less perceptive of things which can result in human errors. On the flip side, automation tests can be rerun accurately an endless number of times without any human interaction.
While tests of repetitive nature are executed by automation tools, QA engineers can save their efforts and devote their time to more critical and creative tasks.
Implementation of automation testing lets considerably cut down testing expenses in the long term. The more frequently it is needed to run automated tests the more cost-effective test-automation gets compared with manual testing.
Due to the quick execution of automated tests, developers have an opportunity to get immediate feedback. So as soon as a bug is detected, they can respond to it instantly. As a result, there is no longer a need to decipher the code created a few weeks ago.
Higher Test Coverage
Utilizing manual testing you can check a limited number of tests. In its turn, automation enables QA engineers to spend time writing more new tests. This approach enhances the test coverage. Therefore, much more software features are tested which leads to a higher quality of a product.
Support of CI/CD and DevOps Practices
Test automation is a must if you consider the implementation of CI/CD and DevOps practices. In a CI/CD pipeline, every commit to the source code must be instantly tested, and it can be properly done only through test automation.
Top 5 common test automation challenges
Automation testing can bring numerous benefits, and its implementation is definitely worth wasted time, effort, and money. Still, the way to effective test automation is fraught with pitfalls. So let's consider which challenges QA engineers usually face.
High initial investments
It is a well-known fact that automation testing is extremely useful. Nevertheless, stakeholders often have doubts on this point as soon as they see a cost sheet. The high initial investments required for test automation cause many concerns and delays. In spite of the high ROI in the long run, test automation costs can take business decision-makers aback. The significant expenses on the initial phase are explained by the necessity to create a proper test automation framework and libraries, as well as provide corresponding facilities like hardware and software. Even on the condition that you opt for the open-source tools that definitely decrease expenses related to the license fee, you still need to invest some funds into the adjustment and maintenance of the tools. Moreover, do not forget about numerous hidden costs like meetings, collaboration, consultations, employee training, and many others. As a result, it can be rather challenging to convince stakeholders of the necessity to switch to test automation and even the most potentially successful plans of test automation implementation can be rejected due to budget limitations.
Significant investments require significant consideration. It is impossible to jump into test automation on the fly. That is why to make the right decision, it is essential to weigh up all the pros and cons. In these terms consistent and well-wrought test strategy and plan, as well as a preliminary measurement of automation testing ROI, are helpful. If everything points to the fact that the test automation will be well justified in the long term, you should bite the bullet and make a move towards test automation.
Well-chosen automation tool
When it comes to the implementation of test automation, the right tool selection is the primary task which can be indeed challenging. Open-source or commercial tools can be used by QA engineers on a regular basis or for the in-house tools building. Generally, open-source tools require more advanced coding skills than commercial ones. Besides, one tool cannot be used for all available scenarios. However, an appropriate tool must comply with different criteria such as project longevity, framework, project requirements, business requirements, the expertise of QA engineers in test automation, etc.
To choose the most suitable tools that will meet all your requirements and provide a smooth software testing process, it is important to devote time to a premature exposure and stick to the following scheme of tool choosing:
Identify your requirements for automation tools
Thoroughly review the selected tools
Execute a trial test with the selected automation tools
Analyze outcomes and make a final decision on a tool selection.
If it is your first experience with test automation, it makes sense to apply for expert consultation in order to be sure of the right tool selection.
Identification of a starting strategy
Aristotle said, "The beginning seems to be more than half of the whole." But, what to do if you even do not have any idea of what to start with? One of the most wide-spread challenges of test automation is where to start an automation. You cannot automate all available tests because, first of all, not all scenarios can be automated, secondly, it doesn't make sense to automate some tests as it is easier and more cost-effective to conduct them manually. For this reason, a well-thought-out strategy and an appropriate test approach are required.
Your test approach should take into consideration the need for test execution during the whole software life span. In these terms, the test approach must ensure that in case of any software changes or updates, automated tests can keep up with them without human intervention.
QA experts recommend two main approaches when it comes to making a decision on your starting point. These are risk-based testing or test automation pyramids. The first approach prioritizes tests on the ground of financial risk or probability of failure. On the flip side, the approach of the test automation pyramid locates unit tests at the base level, API tests, integration tests, and component tests at the middle level, and the last layer is UI tests.
Test data management
Test data management can cause many problems especially when it comes to Continuous Testing. The main difficulties related to test data management are:
extraction of the test data distributed across several databases
limited access to production systems
the necessity to maintain numerous versions of a dataset for different tests
test data creation without the production data copying
non-identified in the initial phase corrupted data can create a serious problem later.
To cope with all these issues efficiently, it is needed to implement useful test data management practices. First of all, it is worth applying automation for test data generation using robust test data management tools that can identify and copy similar patterns in the test environment. It enables automation testers to take the quality of the test data to the next level. To meet the data privacy regulations, it is also advised to consider synthetic data creation. Besides, it is useful to revise your test data regularly in order to delete obsolete data and add the new that is compulsory for successful test execution.
Effective communication and collaboration within a team
Effective communication is important for every team in any business aspect. Still, to provide great results at the end of the day, test automation requires particularly close cooperation and collaboration within a team. From the project outset, good interaction between all the persons engaged is a must. To build an appropriate test automation framework, choose the right test approach, and adjust test automation properly, automation QA engineers should be provided with complete and clear information as for project requirements, business requirements, project scope and duration, time and budget frames, etc. Transparent communication and close collaboration cannot be neglected otherwise you take a risk that the whole process will turn into a total mess.
A minor misunderstanding can cause great troubles and cost a fortune, that is why it is essential from the very beginning to establish a collaborative environment with a particular point of contact in each procedure and clear responsibilities of all team members. To effectively implement test automation and let the whole team reap the benefits from it, automation testers have to communicate with business stakeholders, project managers, business analysts, manual testers, developers, and system architects. Enthusiastic and continuous involvement of all the persons involved is a ticket to success.
Test automation is a super effective approach that can provide a lot of benefits, simplify and accelerate QA processes, optimize performance, and significantly improve product quality. But effective test automation is fraught with various difficulties related to high cost, TDM, right tool selection, test approach choice, effective communication, and others. However, the well-thought-out testing strategy and preliminary analysis can help you to avoid possible obstacles or at least make the implementation of test automation smoother. At long last, all your efforts, time, and money will be rewarded. Just remember - no pain, no gain.