When does it make sense to use test automation?

When does the use of test automation make sense? These are exactly the questions we will answer in the following scenarios.

As the name suggests, test automation is usually not carried out manually by testers. On the one hand, there is the advantage of saving resources, time and money. On the other hand, errors caused by manual activities, such as typing errors, can be avoided from the very beginning. Compared to manual testing, a large number of tests can be performed in high quality and in the shortest time possible.

Scenario 1 – Test-driven development approach:

A common scenario in which test automation not only makes sense, but also has a strong impact is an implementation project with test-driven development. This development method requires that tests already are specified (and written) before the actual implementation starts. Only then the development starts and after each iteration, the predefined tests are executed. Especially with complex problems, many iterations may occur at this stage. In order to prevent the test workload from skyrocketing, it is advantageous to have an automation framework.

Scenario 2 – Regression testing:

Regression tests refer to test cases that must be carried out when a change has been made to the software. They ensure that the already existing functions have not been damaged. This is particularly important when processes are woven together and/or build on each other.

Automation in this case makes sense if the basic functionalities of the software are no longer being changed so that the regression test cases do not have to be rewritten each time. Predefined specialist tests can significantly relieve the workload of the specialist department.

When considering test automation, both the number of regression tests and their frequency of execution should be considered. It is useful here to perform a cost-benefit calculation. Basically, the more frequently test cases must be executed, the more time will be saved by test automation. However, as long as no basic software framework exists, automation makes less sense, because the effort of adjusting the test cases is too high.

Scenario 3 – Establishing the technical infrastructure:

In the beginning of a project, the technical resources may already be in place, although the implementation has not yet taken place. This can be the case if the requirements are not known sufficiently yet. In this case, it makes sense to use free resources to build up a technical infrastructure. This also includes test automation. From our own experience, basic test automation at the unit test level can be written in just one month and can significantly reduce the upcoming testing effort.

Apart from the availability aspect, it is also helpful if the system structure has a clearly defined input and output layer that can be controlled by an automated framework.

Scenario 4 – complex system:

If a complex system is present, test automation may be inappropriate.

An example of this would be a system that works with numerous data stores that change frequently. The input and output layers cannot be clearly defined, and the framework would have to be constantly adapted. This could lead to a waste of time, as the framework itself would also have to be tested when changes are made.

Conclusion

We recommend analysing and defining exactly which of the scenarios or which mix applies at the start of each project. If you already recognise one of the scenarios or mixes, test automation will significantly reduce your workload in the future! However, it is not a universal solution that solves all testing problems. Equally, not every test automation tool fits every infrastructure and every project.

ADWEKO’s experts support you in deciding whether automation makes sense and whether you should automate completely or partially, as well as in selecting a suitable test automation framework and setting up the test automation project. Feel free to contact us!

Anja Rißland
When does it make sense to use test automation?
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