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Automated testing: 5 tips to get it right

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Whether it's your app, website or customer-facing platform, keeping up with the latest and greatest features and functionality in a competitive market has become relentless. How do you meet this increasing consumer demand for better digital experiences?

At the start of the global pandemic in 2020, we saw a rapid shift to optimising and extending existing digital platforms and virtualising more services. Consumers learnt to self-serve online, and new online opportunities were created for businesses worldwide.  

Although this has been a positive step for many, it's not without challenges. One of them is the widespread reliance on manual testing. When your rate of innovation outpaces the speed of conducting thorough, robust testing, you're treading in dangerous waters. Here are some manual testing challenges that may resonate:  

  • You've had to increase your headcount or outsourcing costs to complete the rate of testing.  
  • You're experiencing higher error rates due to the need for a faster time to go live, faster manual testing, and, subsequently, a greater risk of human error.  
  • You have a slower time to market due to conflicting priorities, causing testing to get bumped down the queue.  

A solution for this 'need for speed' is automated testing. It will accelerate your testing rate with better quality results and faster feedback. We're in the midst of an automated testing journey with one of our logistics customers, and early results have been extremely positive. Reduced user acceptance testing time has led to easier deployments, and we continue to add new functionality as time goes on. 

 

Automated testing tips 

With automated testing, tools automatically execute a suite of tests, comparing actual outcomes with expected outcomes. It allows complex tests to be run at high volumes in a parallel fashion, covering a range of functionality in a short space of time. After running automated tests for several years, I've compiled a few tips to get it right:     

1. Use SMART goals  

Create a set of measurable goals as part of your automated testing strategy. Prioritise and divide your tasks. It will keep you on track, in scope and within constraints.  

An example would be prioritising your tests into P1, P2 and P3's; group them into functional areas and tackle them one by one. 

2. Select the right tool  

Automation testing tools come in a range of shapes, sizes and prices. With price, there's often a quality trade-off, so doing your research is critical. If you're looking at the latest and greatest tool to market, consider how easy it is to find testers (especially in the local NZ market) who are familiar with the ins and outs of it. Some of the things you need to consider: 

  • the technology used to develop the system under test 
  • the kind of environment you're working in
  • capability in the team 
  • can it test enterprise applications? 

3. Don't automate everything 

Not all scenarios are suitable for automation, and some may require combined manual and automated testing or no automation at all. For example, if you have a critical problem that needs immediate resolution, it's likely better to adopt manual testing to get a swift resolution. For non-functional UI/UX projects, you may take a different approach entirely.  

Typically, If you want to use automated testing, you should also consider projects to prove ROI. If you're unsure about calculating this, we can help.  

4.  Be wary of hidden costs 

Behind every automated script is a human who needs to maintain and rescript. Although this might be infrequent, it's an added cost to consider. New Zealand has a shortage of experts in specific tools, even more so in the current climate.   

5. Involve people who know the process

Humans still play a significant role in the success of automated testing. You need experienced people who can manage the technical process and have a complete understanding of the tool itself. If you don't already have that capability or resource within your organisation, you may want to consider outsourcing your automated testing to a local support partner. That's where we come in! 

 

Get over the final hurdle 

When you've done the hard work of getting your product ready for market, or you've developed new features and functionality, automated testing will get you to market quicker and with a higher quality result.  

Have you got something you want to get off the ground fast? We've helped various industries with their automated testing needs – from logistics and transport to construction to the public sector. Get in touch and find out how we can help with your automated testing strategy.   

Written by Sanjana Mishra, Test Practice Lead

 

Sanjana is a qualified ISTQB tester with 9 years of test automation experience and specialist knowledge across government and enterprise industries. Her key areas of expertise include understanding complex business requirements and formulating robust testing strategies. Her favourite part of the role?  “The challenge of testing in rapidly evolving situations.”