Here’s our quick start guide to helping your organisation get up and running with Test Automation.
Most of us know that automation can dramatically speed up your testing and increase accuracy versus an entirely manual process, and when implemented correctly you can dramatically reduce your software release cycle time, benefit from improved test coverage and release more often and at a higher quality. All this is before you can say “increased organisational effectiveness” (more on that later), but the bottom line is that you can achieve all of the above AND save money.
But where do you start and how do you prove the value of automation to your business?
It can be pretty daunting to know where to begin, from identifying what application will best suit automation, to ensuring the correct tool choice is made, however with over 15 years (plus!) experience helping organisations get started on their automation journey, we thought we would share with you our top tips to help you get up and running avoiding the many common pitfalls.
Define your test automation approach.
Before you start anything, ask yourself what are your goals for test automation? This may involve meetings with key stakeholders to understand their requirements and help you ensure all requirements have been considered like environments, data and resources. Between you, define measurable goals which can be tracked against to help demonstrate the value to the business, which is critical for the long-term success of any automation project.
Whilst the holy grail of test automation is to create a framework which is easily extensible across your entire application stack and delivery pipeline, start by identifying some test cases and assertions for one or more functional scenarios within a single application under test and agree acceptance criteria. It might not even be a test case, it could be building a utility to help facilitate testing such as data creation. Start with a Proof of Concept (POC) phase, with the goal of creating some early automation assets and develop upon this, once satisfied with your approach and tool choice(s), in terms of increasing coverage over time.
Understand which test automation tool is best for your business.
As part of a POC, ensure the correct tool choice(s) is made, taking into consideration a number of factors such as technology support, ease of use and long term suitability. For example we worked with a client recently who had selected an automation tool (before our consultation) only to realise that their tool of choice had a huge cost of ownership for mobile device compatibility testing versus the eventual tool we recommended. Another customer had chosen a deployment orchestration tool for its natural fit into their single vendor ecosystem only to learn that an open source equivalent provided more customisation and thus easier to use for its end users.
Remember it’s not all UI automation!
Best practice decrees building out the majority of your automation coverage across the back-end, API / Service layer as the UI can be brittle. Bear this in mind and you will be well on your way to avoiding costly pitfalls!
Keeping these things in mind you will have defined your test automation approach, selected a tool (or tools) that is technically compatible with your application stack and created a small suite of tests or utilities to demonstrate capability BUT why does this actually matter and what is the value to the business?
You would be surprised how often this an afterthought, but if you cannot articulate the value to a business decision maker in a language that they understand, all your hard work could be for nothing.
One organisation we are working with previously engaged a team of people for a weekend every month to manually test maintenance releases before going live. Automation will help them reduce 20+ hours of testing down to a few minutes by building a suite of automated tests using C# and Ranorex. That’s all well and good, but why did this matter? Will it provide the business with push-button quality assurance, deployed anytime, anywhere? Will we provide them with a singular view of quality across their application stack? Will we help them achieve greater organisational effectiveness?… Yes, but the short answer, we’ll give at least four team members their weekends back. Priceless.
Are you considering introducing test automation? Or maybe you are struggling to get your company to buy-in? Wherever you are on your automation journey, we would love to understand more about your goals.
If we can help, perhaps point you in the right direction or even give you back your weekends then say hello.