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How a Solid Test Automation Strategy Can Help Mitigate Risk

Author: The MuukTest Team

Last updated: July 15, 2024

Test Automation Strategy
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A weak or non-existent test automation strategy can lead to several easily-avoidable pitfalls in your testing. Thankfully, it’s a simple matter to avoid them if you know how to strategize your automation effectively. A good strategy saves time and money, improves product value, and maintains or even boosts quality. All it takes is a little forethought, planning, and trial and error to devise a strategy that can see you through countless testing cycles. 

We’ll show you a rough guide on how to develop this strategy and talk about how these things help you mitigate risk in the development process as a whole. First, here’s how a robust software test automation strategy might help you.

The Role and Benefits of a Software Automation Test Strategy

Test automation generally refers to running repetitive tests with minimal manual intervention. Automated tests can be written and executed using automation tools designed to replicate real-life human interactions with the software to ensure the software behaves as you want it to. 

There are three major areas in which a good test automation strategy can benefit software development. These are cost, quality, and time to market. Automation has been used in one form or another to achieve these benefits for decades, and it’s only getting better. Let’s isolate these three major perks and explain how they’re affected by automated testing:

Cost – The high rate of testing available when using automation means it’s possible to run numerous tests in quick succession, sometimes even in parallel, dramatically reducing testing time without compromising on quality. This leads to much lower human resource costs for the entire testing process.

Quality – A good test automation strategy focuses on the testing that lends itself to automation, again, without reducing quality. In fact, automated testing can improve software quality by being rapidly repeatable without the potential for human error and allows for more testing to occur in the same amount of time. 

Time to market – As we mentioned, effective automated testing speeds up the process as a whole, reducing release times without having to cut corners on either the quality or volume of testing. 

In order to benefit from all of these advantages, automated testing needs to be implemented in the right way and at the right time. This is where a test automation strategy comes into play. A strategy gives your teams an idea of where to begin, how to implement an agile (or otherwise appropriate) process to your testing, and which metrics you’ll need to identify whether it’s been successful and what your ROI for the testing was.

 

How to Develop a Test Automation Strategy for Your Product

There are quite a few things to consider when planning for automated testing and designing your strategy. The process should follow at least these nine basic steps:

1. Where to start – By using the testing pyramid, you’ll be able to identify where you want to start testing. You should consider your main motivations for automated testing, and of the three benefits we listed in the previous section, pick the order of importance to you. From here, you’ll choose the automation relevant to these needs. 

2. Apply your familiar development principles – This means designing regression testing where you would normally include it, incorporating your whole team, and investing in training opportunities for those needing them by factoring in some hands-on experience and collaboration between testers and developers. Part of this process should focus on ensuring app stability before automation. 

3. Identify what should be automated and select your tools – Pick out the types of tests you want to automate. These should include repetitive tests and tests that run against different data sets and many units, components, and GUI-level tests. It’s not worth automating one-time tests, and exploratory tests will not be suitable for automation. From here, you’ll be able to identify the tools you’re going to use for the testing. 

4. Modeling and coverage – You need to know what you’re covering, but you also want to know how much you will cover and with which tests. Once you’ve identified and executed your tests, you’ll need to evaluate your results, so when designing your strategy, you need to have the relevant metrics in mind too. Don’t forget to look out for over-testing! 

5. Write the tests – Here, you’ll need to identify each test’s start and end conditions and record the requirements scenario into an independent automated solution with assertions. 

6. Run the tests – This is the execution phase, in which each test is run multiple times. 

7. Evaluate – At this stage, the evaluation is as simple as ensuring each automated test behaves as expected.

8. Publish – Share the results of the automated testing process with the team and encourage discussion and evaluation of the successes and failures (if any).

9. Adjust and repeat – Taking a trial and error approach, make the necessary adjustments and repeat the things that have worked in your test automation strategy so far.

That’s more or less all there is to designing and implementing a test automation strategy, but there are some common roadblocks you might want to know about.

 

Software Test Automation Strategy Challenges, Risks, and How to Avoid Them

The typical challenges that automated testing faces are usually budget or training-related and can be useful to know about in advance to try to mitigate them. Without a proper test strategy, you may fall foul of any of the following challenges: 

The initial investment can cause problems for teams on a tight budget. Implementing a new automation test strategy does take time and resources away from the day-to-day. Still, it’s best to consider it a significant investment in time savings down the line. Make sure to budget both time and money to design a robust testing strategy. 

Poor testing can lead to product and project risks. Many automated testing approaches lack clearly-defined goals, which can lead to aimless testing, over-testing, or simply not testing in the right way to make the best of the strengths of automation. It’s important in the modeling and coverage considerations of stage 4 to reduce these cases where possible.

It’s also common to have incomplete or improper testing tools to achieve the desired results, which emphasizes the importance of identifying your tools early on, usually as soon as you’ve identified what you want to test. 

One of the strongest benefits of the speed of automated testing is the ability to reuse code. Try to avoid spending all this time on writing tests that will be discarded as soon as you’re done and lots in a pile, never to be used again. Instead, make tests that are easy to recycle, and you’ll likely find that you can make use of them countless times.

 

Conclusion

Automating your software testing immediately mitigates the risk of falling behind when it comes to the development of new technologies. Still, other roadblocks will present themselves when it comes to test automation. 

Thankfully, with a bit of careful strategizing, you should be able to mitigate these risks easily and reap the rewards of a robust automated testing strategy, bringing you savings in time, money, and human resources as well as boosts to the quality and responsiveness of your software. A good software test automation strategy should be something you carry with you throughout numerous development projects.

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

 

  • What is test automation?

    It's the process of leveraging tools and software to execute pre-scripted tests on software applications to ensure they perform as expected. Without test automation, development processes depend on manual testing, where QA testing teams execute test cases, observe the application’s behavior, and report issues. 

  • What are some of the issues that arise with manual testing?

    For one, humans are prone to error, and some bugs or issues with the application may go unnoticed unknowingly. Secondly, in cases where large-scale testing or repetitive efforts are required, manual testing can be time-consuming and drag the overall development time. Naturally, with increased errors and development time, the development cost increases.  

  • What are some of the benefits of test automation? 

    The test automation process provides several benefits, including: 

    • Faster Time to Develop: Test automation reduces the time it would take for human testers to manually test a product by catching bugs and errors early in the development phase.
    • Cost-effectiveness:  Although test automation requires a considerably high investment upfront, in the long run, it’s more cost-effective, as it catches errors that would have gone unnoticed and saves the company from hiring budgets for additional human testing expertise.
    • Objective Results: Unlike human testing, which can sometimes be subjective, automation testing produces consistent and objective results, ensuring the reliability and efficiency of the end product.

  • What do Engineering leaders need to do before creating a test automation strategy?

    Engineering leaders must analyze the existing testing process to understand strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for improvement within the current testing framework. Afterward, they should define the objectives of their testing process and review existing test documentation. This includes examining test plans, cases, and scripts to ensure they align with the software requirements. Leaders should also analyze how the development team executes tests, considering the time, steps involved, and any challenges encountered during manual testing. This way, they can pinpoint repetitive and time-consuming tasks that are prime candidates for automation.

  • How can Engineering leaders select the best tools for test automation?

    Development processes require a combination of tools and frameworks when adopting test automation. Some popular automation tools and frameworks include Selenium, Appium, JUnit, TestNG, and Jenkins. If the project has plans to grow or expand, the tools and technologies chosen should support the addition of test cases, users, and functionalities without significant performance degradation. 

  • Will Test Automation replace the human element from the testing process?

    No, test automation doesn’t eliminate the human element from the testing process. Rather, it transforms the roles and responsibilities within the testing team. As such, engineering leaders must first identify the roles and skills needed for the automated testing system and processes. An automation strategy’s success will depend on the team working to execute it.