Automated Software Testing. But why?
Increasing consumer demand and dynamic business trends have made market competition more intense than ever. Software product development is a highly demanding space and the average time-to-market for products is shrinking. There is a growing compulsion to produce high quality products within quicker delivery cycles. While working with such tight schedules, it is practically impossible for product development teams to not encounter any defects. However, it is very much possible to keep the cost of defect resolution under check.
It is a given in the industry that the cost of finding and fixing defects at a later point of the product development lifecycle is expensive, as the impact created by the defects would be higher. Quicker we find the errors, less expensive it is to fix them. With the same ideology, most of the product development companies are moving from a linear waterfall model to a leaner agile delivery model.
The agile delivery model advocates continuous improvement in quality, which in turn requires testing to start from the earlier phases of product development. As the testing phase shifts left in the Software Development Life Cycle(SDLC), it is important to have a quicker turnaround time for the testing process. With reduced cost and quicker execution time, Software test automation is the most effective way to achieve the desired quality outcomes.
Over the years, it has been observed that close to 80% of the defects are encountered in the early phases of SDLC. Automation testing provides quicker feedback, which is very precious at these earlier stages of product development. While manual testing still has its advantages in situations that require exploratory testing or measuring usability of an application, automation testing proves useful in continuous improvement of software quality in the majority of the cases.
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5 Key benefits of Test Automation over Manual testing
- Reduced cost in the long run – In cases with repeated execution of a defined task, manual testing requires human intervention every time an activity is performed. This subsequently results in the testing process having a very high variable cost. Conversely, in case of automation testing, the scalability is very high. There is an initial fixed cost involved in purchasing tools and setting up custom frameworks, but with every additional iteration, the variable cost is almost zero. Hence, in the long run, the total cost of testing is significantly lower than manual testing.
- Reduced time of execution – Reusability of test scripts allows the testing team to substantially save time and efforts and is one of the most useful attributes of Automated testing. With custom frameworks in place, Test automation enables distributed execution of test cases resulting in an increased speed of execution. Automation testing also allows testing the application parallely across multiple platforms, and substantially reduces the time-to-market. For example, the application can be parallely tested for compatibility across different browsers and operating systems using test automation.
- Increased test coverage – In scenarios involving frequent code changes, there is a high possibility of the newer changes affecting the existing functionalities and workflows. Hence, it becomes really important to perform regression testing across all the functionalities, whenever there are new workflows being introduced. Manually testing all the workflows within the application exhaustively, including negative scenarios and performing repeated iterations could be really time consuming. With quicker execution cycles, Automation testing allows an increased test coverage, especially in cases involving frequent code changes and a frequent requirement for regression testing.
- Increased quality of testing – When the test case execution for complex and lengthy scenarios are done manually, they are highly susceptible to manual errors. Every iteration of execution could include multiple steps at each level and will have to be reproduced with the same precision every time. With minimal manual intervention, Automation testing allows very little scope for errors during execution. A strong and robust test script would allow an infinite number of execution cycles with the exact same precision.
- Reduced manual effort – Software test automation allows more effective utilization of resources. Once the automation scripts are in place, there is minimal manual effort required for regular test case execution. Manual intervention would be required only when there is a change in requirements or for troubleshooting in case of any glitches during execution.
Beyond all these benefits, Automation testing is also propelling a shift in the product development process by blurring the line between development and testing phases. The roles of developers and testers are beginning to complement each other and the definition of their responsibilities is gradually evolving. Automation testing has enabled the testers to give quick feedback to designers, which in turn become design inputs for the next sprints of product development. Quicker testing cycles through test automation thus fuels a continuous improvement in the quality of the software.
The concept of Software test automation in itself, is not anything new. It has been existent for years now and has matured from using record and playback scripts to the level of using Machine Learning and Code less automation. There are hundreds of tools and frameworks that have been developed over the years, but the bottomline of test automation still remains the same and will continue to sustain because of the core benefits that come with it.