Software teams across the globe are encouraged to fail fast, learn fast and deliver faster. That is one reason why approaches like TDD (Test-driven development) are gaining popularity. Contradicting the traditional approach, the development process today is starting with writing test cases. Naturally, the stakes are high for Testers as Developers want continuous feedback and business teams want faster releases. Before we knew it, Quality Engineering became the core of Digital Transformation. Test Automation improves efficiency, speed, and coverage of software testing but, when an application is scaling, the testing approaches should scale too!
Is it as simple as it sounds? Definitely not. Identifying, designing, planning, and executing tens of test cases monthly and thousands of them weekly as you scale is very different. Automating repetitive functional and non-functional test cases would seem to save time and efforts but it can go wrong in more than one way as the project grows bigger.
Why Test Automation Frameworks do not yield desired results?
- Frameworks not matching the pace of development
As low-code and no-code automation tools are still in emerging state, most of the automation framework executions are code-based. In the age of CI-CD, developers are producing new code continuously and matching their pace to change the testing framework and still ensure a solid foundation could be difficult. All the while, the instant short-term fixes testers tend to do on the frameworks would mess with the efficiency of test cases entirely in a long run.
- Script-based test automation is demanding
When automation frameworks require development and maintenance, you’d need programmers who specialize in automation which are hard to find and when you do, they are costly. So, it is either a costly addition of programmers or a hopeful reliance on technical testers that they’ll pull it off over time.
- Lack of understanding about the application
Writing test automation frameworks require in-and-out knowledge about the application in making. Otherwise, missing a tiniest detail like the programming language used to build it can create interruptions in third-party controls and supporting browsers, which will eventually influence the test results. The two common mistakes organizations do while implementing test automation are – keeping it a person-centric and failing to give necessary KT to testing team.
- Knowing what to automate and how to
Not everything we test can be automated. Jump starting into automating test cases without outlining the scope of automation will give you unwanted surprises down the road. It is practically waste of time to try and automate test cases that are unique or be used once/twice. Whether you build it or source it, automation frameworks are often built to support specific part of the project. The same framework can’t be used for every application your organization is building, which often leads to a question ‘Is it worth spending time, money and resources on?’.
Recently, a World Quality Report (2019-20) was published by a multi-national tech consulting corporation. According to it, nearly half of the tech decision makers admitted that their major challenges with scaling Test Automation in agile development are around strategizing, lack of resources or lack of approaches.
Condensing what we’ve learnt over years, these are some of the best practices that lets a test automation strategy scale directly proportionate to the application’s size and complexity.
Executive Sponsor Support
There are way too many software bots and tools to dazzle your automation dreams but organizational buy-in is the most important step for transformation engagement. Define business objectives, technological possibilities and your ideal scalable automation strategy lies in the intersection of both. A solid executive sponsor support can help any business initiative reach its potential and safeguard its continuance as it grows.
Never be too confident to ignore sketching down a clear automation roadmap. There are many tools, APIs, and methodologies to automate your test cases, but nothing can save you from failure if you don’t know what to automate, how to automate and what not to automate. Have a clear picture of the application in making, list of functionalities, features, expected behaviors, supported browsers, environments, and threats.
- Do you know how the application is going to be evolved in the next 2 years?
- Do you know if there is going to be any changes in the application’s tech stack in the next 1 year?
- What technologies your organization is going to adopt in the next 2 years?
Test Automation Flows
Approach your testing suite with automation mindset. Transferring automation test cases 1:1 manner isn’t very scalable. Instead consider a way to create more atomic flows. Always remember to isolate your automation flows, independent with each other. In critical cases, it saves the day when regular troubleshooting fails. It’s not to discourage you from creating end-to-end tests that covers the whole process, but the isolated ones are easier to track and diagnose where the problem is when something doesn’t seem right.
Another important part of it is to create re-usable test automation flows that can handle specific features. These are easier to scale compared to the flows that have more than one dimension. While you create re-usable automation flows, don’t overlook the importance of naming conventions. The test flows should be easily found by rest of the team.
Build an operating model
Implementation of a scalable test automation model involves larger number of people than you’d expect. The stakeholders and dependencies go beyond a small team of RPA professionals and testers. As you plan to scale the automation model, building a center of excellence is beneficial in order to design (and redesign), deploy, scale, and transform it throughout the software development cycle. An ideal TA center of excellence consists of:
- A subject matter expertise to define and rescue
- An IT team that takes bots into production
- An internal audit team that monitors security
- The risk and control team that guides and governs the approval processes
- An Executive Sponsor that measures ROI
Justify the investments with ROI aka Value creation
‘What are we spending? And What are we saving?’ are the two most common questions to hear after every new org-wide technology implementation proposal. But remember something.
RPA works best when you use it to improve value and not only to reducing costs.
The adoption of robots in each organization is unique and they go through a painfully slow and expensive process before they do their magic. So, focusing on identifying areas that can improve the value creation should happen sooner. As cliched as it may sound, the 'Value' need not be monetized always. Here are some of the elements that can be benefitted with automation.
IT Automation readiness
Another common mistake by organizations who failed in implementing test automation is not involving IT and Ops teams from earlier stages of SDLC. The decision of introducing automation, testing its efficiency, and pitching it to business users can happen behind curtains but when it’s time to scale, the sooner you involve your IT the better. Ensure that your IT can monitor Test Automation framework deployments, provide high-availability, disaster-recovery support, and integrate with the rest of the environment.
Finding the right tool
Although it is almost the bottom of the list, it is most certainly one of the crucial steps to follow in order to achieve maintainable and scalable test automation. Don’t be in a hurry to select your testing companion but consider these three elements before taking a decision.
Level of code - is it No code? Low code? Or Code-based?
CI-CD Pipeline Integration - Does it go along well with the investments you’ve already made?
Reusability - Does the tool encourage you to reuse the flows, name them with ease and lets you overview the whole testing environment?
For over two decades, many software testing tool vendors are offering their services to aid enterprises to release quality software that supports their business. But today, it is high time to realize that:
- If your testing software is legacy, it is most likely not effective on the new-age application you are building
- Opting for script-based test automation tools without in-house automation expertise will be cumbersome to maintain and scale
- The software architectures, development processes, definition of ‘Quality’, everything is changing
Open-source tools are ruling the market but there are pros and cons for both. Scalability and maintainability are not somethings that you can ‘figure out later’. So, ensure to remember everything we discussed above before you sign up for a test automation tool.
Wondering how can you draft a result-oriented and cost-effective Test Automation strategy that is easy to scale and maintain? Let’s have a quick chat.