6/24/17

Essential Factors for Successful Functional Test Automation


With Digital Transformation and Digital Technologies gaining momentum, applications need to get further robust and market ready. The challenging digital transformation requires rigorous and comprehensive testing plan that needs to be repetitive and consistent. This can be feasible only with a test automation plan that can facilitate easy, repetitive, and cost-effective testing. For instance, in case of a gaming application, there is no scope of error or glitch, as it will directly lead to failure of the application and impact the number/frequency of downloads.

While planning the delivery of the software projects, there is always a need to decide on the test automation strategy and what aspects of the application that should be automated. So, it is important to understand the reason or objective of automation. If not done in a thought-through way, it can vex your team and ultimately fail your business objectives.
Now, if we talk about automating functional testing, the objective here is to automate the testing of the features and functionality of the software and touch upon every probability of failure or dysfunctionality.

Why Automate?

Test Automation is mainly considered to avoid repeated manual work, gain faster response, cut down the time for running tests, and ensure that our tests are consistent with the expected presumptions and objectives. Moreover, automation can help eliminate the manual errors while executing the tests repeatedly. There are also chances that manual execution of tests might not give similar results each time it is tested.
Another major point to consider is to generate quicker feedback, resulting in faster time-to-market. When feedback is received at a rocket’s pace, it leads to effective continuous integration and continuous delivery. Moreover, it helps to preserve the tests as an asset for making the framework available whenever required for similar testing.
This makes the testing process cost-effective and lucrative. In this way, automation further helps in implementing changes and also refactoring the code.   
However, there could be some challenges while performing functional tests, as huge sets of test cases get generated. This leads to inconvenience, as during lengthy regression tests, there could be issues in committing changes. As a result, the developers tend to commit less regularly.
So, it is critical to consider the essential factors for successful functional test automation that makes the approach more efficient and helps in covering a large section of the application while testing.
The objective is to ensure that all functional aspects of the application are tested and defects are identified. Ultimately, enabling development of a valuable test suite and further focus on critical areas of the product. This helps target 2 goals - keep the testing process relevant to the business needs and bring down the rate of failure with every feature.
So, what are the factors to consider while building an effective functional test automation strategy?
Listed below are the 6 factors that we think are essential to follow for successful functional test automation:

1. Build a dedicated team

It would be disastrous to get the manual testing team to work on test automation tasks. The process and strategy for both is totally different, and even the results expected would differ. Test automation is a dedicated and focused activity to consider, and cannot be mixed. So, it is important to bring a dedicated team on board for the same.

2. Selecting the tool

There are some key factors to consider while selecting the automation tool - the underlying objective and the training involved. It is important to select a tool that is compatible with the organization and the people who would be involved in the process.

3. Finding the right tool is just the beginning

Yes, selecting the right tool is absolutely critical and definitely a good start. However, that doesn’t end the job. The tool cannot be implemented everywhere, as it might not cover every scenario. But if blended with the right strategy and skill sets, the tool will provide the expected results.

4. Blend every aspect together for desired results

Again, it is critical to keep the objective in focus while building the automation strategy. It is advisable to begin the automation process by creating the test case in a manual format - collect all the requirements and testing data to build the automation plan.

5. Know your software/application

This could be the most important step to consider, understanding the application at hand and knowing the key features of the application. This will help implement the tool effectively and enable right third-party integrations. This will ensure effective automation even in the future.
Moreover, it will help identify any possible defects, memory leaks, performance issues, scalability issues, and more.

6. Automation cannot be done for everything

While automation can solve major critical issues, it cannot be a solution for all. So, it’s a misconception that if you select the right tool you can automate anything. Automation tools can just make the process easier and faster. You will have to loop in and recruit the right processes that can meet the desired goals.
Automation cannot work in isolation; it has to work in tandem with the overall testing process.
While we discuss the key factors involved in effective functional test automation, the role of test engineers has to be specifically emphasized. Test automation engineers are a valuable asset, as they provide visibility of any probable quality issues for the development team across the product’s lifecycle.

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