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Automating the Automation: The Silver Bullet for QA ROI

Rajesh Prakasam

April 22, 2022

Quality assurance is crucial in every business within every industry on the planet. It’s impossible to survive as a company, especially in the oversaturated markets we’re experiencing today. Many companies rely on technology to effectively handle repetitive tasks, including quality assurance.

Heated debates could go on for hours regarding quality assurance and whether it’s suitable to automate the way we test it, and some points serve both sides of the argument well. Because QA plays a crucial role in our businesses and product delivery, it needs to work well within agile development methodologies and highly compressed test execution styles.

There’s no doubt that QA engineers face many challenges, most revolving around the automated changes with QA coding. So often, code that worked in previous test periods, or sprints, is affected by features and bug fixes from following sprints. All of this increases the risk of automated QA not working correctly.

Because of this, tech teams need to consider automating QA testing. Without it, it’s hard to provide real-time feedback and system analysis, but is it too much to automate within automation?

Knowing When to Automate

Before deciding if automation is a silver bullet in the chest of quality assurance, we must understand when we should embrace automation and when we shouldn’t. If your application is ready for automation, then, by all means, automate your heart out.

However, there are instances where applications are not ready for automation. There are specific criteria an application should meet before rushing into QA tests.

Determining Application Readiness

It can be tricky to determine whether your application is ready for automation. These days, everything feels a bit rushed, primarily when we’re working with deadlines or working toward a product launch.

Be incredibly careful if you’re working with a graphic user interface. Take care never to begin automation at the beginning of a project, or you might have to rewrite those automation scripts, maybe even more than once.

Automation requires functional features that are ready for testing. You’re better off beginning your automation process when you’re sure that the elements of your application are not going to change.

Suppose you plan on changing them, or they evolve naturally as part of the development process. In that case, early automation is fruitless, taking too much precious time and cutting into your return on investment.

The automation planning process cannot overlook script design. We have the knowledge that QA can fail with automated test scripts when we create a new version of the product or service. It’s vital to devise scripts to require very little maintenance in the future.

A complete dismantling and rebuilding of new scripts will cause setbacks in time and money, which is one reason why many consider it unwise to automate automated QA. To avoid potential roadblocks, ensure that your app is fully prepared for automation and don’t move forward without a plan.

Team Skill Sets

QA engineering requires a particular skill set. There are plenty of technological tools available to assist in effectively executing automation, but skills within the field are a crucial component. It goes without saying that challenges will arise, and your team has to be prepared to handle them without batting an eye.

Time is money in any field, but particularly in technology and engineering. The fast we move through testing and automation, the faster we get our services to the public. However, we cannot expect to automate every single process flawlessly. Human intervention is necessary, and this is often the case for automated testing for QA.

Most of the tools we use to automate processes (like quality assurance) mandate coding experience. These tools typically provide the resources necessary to teach those without experience using them how to use them properly.

Sometimes, this built-in guidance is enough, but you might want to consider bringing in an outside expert. Not only will your team come away with a ton of learned knowledge and hands-on experience, but fewer future mistakes will lead to an improved ROI.

There’s no question that test automation is a long-term investment. From frameworks to automated scripts, a lot of time and money goes into developing and maintaining your team and their work. Outsourced expertise makes for a better team overall, reducing the need for constant rebuilding and script rewriting.

Testing Test Automation Tools

So, you’ve decided to automate what’s already automated by automating tests for automated programs. It sounds complex because it is complex. Before you jump in with both feet, have you stopped to consider whether or not you’re using the right tools?

If you want to succeed in test automation, you’ll need skilled testers and the correct tools for those testers to utilize. Test automation tools are readily available, but some are not as good as others, like most things in life. Also, some are free, while others are pretty pricey.

Automation tools are an aspect of technology in which you’ll have to decide for yourself what will work for your business. You’ve got to choose a reliable automation tool, but you’ve also got to stay true to your budget. Things can become tricky here because it’s essential to continue to consider your return on investment.

Using an automation tool that isn’t of high-enough quality for the job you need it to do can cause severe damage in the long run. At the same time, overspending at this stage might be unrecoverable. Before you select your automation tool or tools, consider the following:

When it comes to QA testing, the bottom line is knowing your bottom line! Understand your risks and if you’re willing to take those risks. One of the best pieces of advice we can offer is to start with a tool you can afford and apply it to a pilot project.

Once you know what the tool is capable of and if it’s a good fit for your upcoming workload, you can commit. There isn’t a single application on Earth that’s perfect. We always wish it had this feature or that we could get rid of that feature.

Tools for automation are similar in that way. The app you choose won’t be complete perfection, but it has to prove that it can provide purpose and a great ROI.

What Should You Automate?

Let’s talk about what you should automate and which aspects of your applications you should leave alone. You now know when to automate and what to consider when choosing automation test tools, but what exactly should you automate regarding your QA (and everything else in your business model)?

The Golden Rule: If It’s Repetitive, Automate It

Testing software and QA includes a whole lot of repetitive tasks. Doing these tasks manually leaves too much room for human error, and you can easily avoid that by implementing an automation tool.

Humans tend to do the same task differently every time they do it; sometimes, in a desperate attempt at breaking up the monotony, machines repeatedly do one job the same way. Automated tools are superb at producing the same results when assigned a specific task, supplying your team with consistent answers and feedback.

Automate Difficult Tasks

The amount of time you’ll save by automating complex quality assurance tasks is immeasurable. Technically not, because there’s likely an automated tool to measure it.

If your team is consistently bogged down by tasks that take an extremely long time to complete, such as syncing thousands of email and contact accounts to a new application, it’s time to automate.

Automating application testing can be a time saver for a quality assurance engineer and a money-saver for you. Your team’s effort into testing app features that you can (and should) test automatically is directly lowering your ROI.

Automation and the Future of QA

Everyone in the technology industry knows that automation is our future. We’ve struck a pretty good deal with AI and machine learning, and there’s no reason we can’t utilize it for tasks and tests that can thrive under automated processes.

Automation will never replace human testers. It’s impossible, as humans can analyze and notice nuances in ways that computers do not. However, it’s good to have computers on your side when it comes to QA automation and the possibilities it has to increase your ROI.

Without question, automated tools are here to assist testers, not replace them entirely. Manual tests are still just as necessary as those that are automated, and the combination of the way we use these testing methods will look very different for every business. Automation increases efficiency as long as you use it in the right place at the right time.

By

Rajesh Prakasam

VP - Engineering

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