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Why Automated Testing is Essential for Test Maintenance

Author: Pricilla Bilavendran

Last updated: July 15, 2024

Test Maintenance
Table of Contents

Software test maintenance is a large part of the development process, as tests require regular maintenance and updates (manually or with automation) to ensure quality. Automation tools for maintaining tests can help reduce costs, save time, and improve accuracy. In addition, automated regression testing tools can help identify bugs, regressions, and other issues quickly and accurately.

However, test maintenance relies on the project’s complexity and nature.

If your project is built on a large database with millions of records, updating your test cases will take some time. On the other hand, if your application is simple, you may quickly change your test cases.

The role of automation is categorized as: 

  1. Using automated test cases/tools to maintain the tests.
  2. Maintaining the automated test cases in an efficient manner.



Automated Testing In Maintenance

Automation is essential for efficient company operations, quality assurance, and customer service. Many business processes are automated to decrease costs, boost productivity, and improve accuracy. Although automated tests are becoming increasingly important in the software testing life cycle, not everything can be automated. We can automate feasible tasks and focus on the areas which require special attention. 

When it comes to maintenance, automated testing can be used to:

  • Test code fast, precisely, and often to ensure that it works as intended and aid in the identification of any modifications that may be required.
  • Detect possible errors and defects before these become visible to the end user, saving time and money in debugging and improving product quality.
  • Detection of code regressions by triggering previously successful tests that have suddenly begun to fail because of code changes.
  • Improve collaboration among developers as they’ll save time and effort for certain tasks/actions/user flows.
  • Run multiple tests simultaneously, compare results and detect any unexpected behavior or errors. 
  • Rapid and accurate gathering of test data, as well as the exact identification of issues.
  • Enables testers to swiftly re-run tests when the application or environment has changed.

Managing Automated Tests During the Software Testing Life Cycle

As a software tester, it’s important to understand how to manage automated tests during the software testing life cycle. This includes creating and maintaining test scripts, as well as executing and monitoring them. To manage these automated tests, you need to plan out when they should be run and make sure they’re kept up to date with any changes that have been made to the program.

As creating and maintaining test scripts can be a challenge, especially if you’re new to automation,don’t just automate blindly. Get to know the architecture and analyze what and why it should be automated. 

Here are some pointers for doing just that:

  1. Establish Test Strategy: The first phase in the software testing life cycle is to define the testing goals and objectives, while also choosing the best strategy for the testing effort. Test methods and automation must be identified and thoroughly described during this phase. 
  1. Do your research: The majority of automation projects fail because of a lack of technical knowledge and research. Always have a thorough understanding of the project and the tech stack used.
  1. Selection of Tools and Technologies: Test tools, platforms, and technologies must be selected based on the results of the previous step. .
  1. Automation Testing: This step entails creating the automated tests as well as the framework for running them. Scripts and tools must then be set up to execute the tests following the specifications.
  1. Debugging and Maintenance: The importance of debugging automated tests to guarantee proper test execution cannot be overstated. As the software program grows and changes over time, current tests require maintenance alongside the creation of new tests.
  1. Continuous Integration: As the software program changes, it is critical to guarantee that the automated tests continue to perform properly. To ensure the integrity and usefulness of the tests, these should be run continually as part of the software development process.
  1. Reporting and Analysis: Reports based on automated tests should be utilized to support decision-making and offer a full perspective of the software application’s quality.

Tips to Keep your Test Suites Clean:

  1. Automate Tests: This is one of the best ways to maintain a clean test suite. Automating regularly occurring tests can save time and reduce the tedium associated with manually running each test.
  1. Refactor and Optimize Tests: As the application code changes, your tests also need to change accordingly. This ensures that all tests are up to date and running correctly.
  1. Prioritize Tests:  This allows for the most critical tests to be updated first, which makes sure  that the most critical tests are updated first and that the organization gets the greatest benefit from test maintenance. Also, we can ensure that the key features are tested. 
  1. Improve Your Naming Conventions: An effective naming convention makes it easier to search and understand the tests. When the tests are well-named, you can easily identify which testing scenarios are failing and which need more attention.
  1. Gather and Archive Bug Reports: This helps in tracking and fixing issues quickly and efficiently, as well as keeping the test suite clean. Only tests that are bug-free will be kept in the test suite.
  1. Regular Maintenance: This which keeps a test suite clean, includes identifying duplicate and outdated tests, and removing them. This also ensures that all tests are running actively and adequately verifying new functionality whenever possible. With regular maintenance and streamlining, the test suite can remain clean, comprehensive, and up-to-date.
  1. Self-healing test cases: These test cases, which detect the problem or fault and use self-diagnosis tools to repair it, help developers test the system and its components for any issues and help them take corrective actions. They are beneficial in the long run as they can detect any potential issues and help configure systems to their optimal functioning levels.



Automating the Software Test Maintenance Process

Automating the maintenance process may involve creating a set of software tools to manage the process of performing and scheduling regularly scheduled maintenance tasks. These tools could include a scheduling system, an automated customer notification system, an inventory management system, an automated reporting system, and an analytics system for tracking the results of maintenance activities. Additionally, automating the maintenance process may also require integrating existing customer service and asset management systems, or creating an integrated platform to track assets and schedule maintenance tasks.

Here are a couple of elements that can be automated:

1. Test Coverage: Automate code change analysis methods to verify that all modifications and deployments are tested. 

2. Test Scripts: Create automated test scripts to quickly identify problems in software and ensure that all tests are running efficiently and accurately.

3. Builds: Configure automated builds to ensure software applications are always built with the appropriate tests.

4. Data Validation: Create automated methods for evaluating data and incoming requests to guarantee that apps function correctly and test results are reliable.

5. Defect Tracking: Track and triage defects quickly and easily through automated processes.

6. Test Metrics: Monitor and analyze test results and performance metrics to help identify potential improvements and changes.

7. Reports: Generate automated reports to help developers and testers track the progress of test automation efforts.



In Summary

Automated testing is the key for effective test maintenance, as it allows testers to identify bugs quickly and easily, while providing repeatable, predictable, and reliable tests. It can give testers confidence that the changes they make don’t cause any unexpected problems. Switching to automated tests also enables maintenance tasks to be shared among different members of the test team. This leads to tests being completed more quickly and with better quality results. Thus, automated testing has enormous significance in enabling efficient test maintenance and improving the overall quality of software applications. 

Pricilla Bilavendran

Pricila Bilavendran is a test engineer and a certified mentor, currently at Billennium, as well as an advocate for diversity and inclusion. Her experience with Functional, EDI, ETL, Automation, API testing and Postman is part of what she shares in her workshops, webinars, and writing. A global ambassador for the WomenTech Network, and one of the speakers at its 2023 conference, she can be found on LinkedIn, Twitter, and her blog.