Best Practices in Test Automation

Iqra Bibi

November 6, 2021

Best Practices in Test Automation

If you are working in a software development organization, you must have heard quite a bit about test automation. Automation testing is a new technology in the field of software testing. It saves testers a lot of time and effort by taking care of boring, repetitive tasks. It is changing the future of manual testing by using tools and technologies to come up with the best practices for test automation that lead to products that work perfectly. Automation planning and testing help the teams improve their software quality and make the most of their testing resources. It also helps in earlier bug detection, improving the test coverage, and speeding up the testing cycle.

With automation’s fast-gaining popularity, almost every company is consulting QAs and considering diving into the sea of automation. Companies are finding that it’s more and more important to use the best QA automation tools for cost-effective automation testing and to focus on results.

Unfortunately, not all companies are getting the desired results from their automation efforts. Many people are unsure of where to begin or how far they should progress. Some people have apprehensions about automation, and their fear of failure keeps them from adopting it in their regular testing processes. Automation failure can occur for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Unclear automation scope/coverage  
  • Unstable feature/software 
  • Unavailability of automated test cases 
  • Time &  budget constraints
  • Unsuitable selection of automation tool
  • Unavailability of skilled people
  • Manual testing mindset
  • Testers unwilling to align with fast-paced technology

Things can be settled better with the right planning and good ways to carry out the plan. The same is true in automation testing, where the right decisions,  best test automation tools, approaches, and techniques can make a big difference.

Effective measures for successful Automation Testing

Here are some basic yet effective tips that you should keep in mind before moving ahead with automation testing.

1. Set Realistic Expectations from Automation Testing

The main goal of automation is to save manual testers’ time and help them test quickly, efficiently, and effectively. However, automation is not supposed to find out flaws in test designs, test development, planning, or execution. Don’t expect automation to find extra bugs you didn’t define in your test automation script. Accept the fact that automation is not a replacement for manual testers; it is here to provide confidence to the stakeholders that features are working as expected across builds and nothing is broken.

2. Identify your Target Modules

“If you automate a mess, you get an automated mess.” (Rod Michael).”

Thinking about automating the overall project is not a good approach. It’s always smart to be concise, use a risk-based approach to analyze the project scope, and then decide on test coverage. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Always pick the stable area, and no major changes are expected in the future.
  • Pick tasks that consume much of the tester’s time in performance, regressions, load, and security.
  • Features that are in early development should not be your choice for a QA automation tester.
  • Don’t consider automating the UI that is going to undergo massive changes and keep the usability testing process separate.
  • Make sure you have a collection of stable test cases run by manual testers. Once manual testers mark the test cases stable/approved, you should proceed with the test automation.

3. Pick the Right Test Cases to Automate

Always start with the Smoketest cases of the identified module. Next, move on to repeated tasks like Regression Test Suite, tasks that can experience human errors like heavy computations, and test cases that can introduce high-risk conditions. This is how the priority should be set for automation. You can also add data-driven, lengthy forms and configuration test cases that will run on different devices, browsers, and platforms.

4. Allocate Precise Budget and Resources

During automation, time, budget, and availability of skilled and trained automation resources are a big challenge. To cater to this, always choose automation for those projects that don’t have time constraints and tough deadlines. Ideally, choose automation for long-term projects. Your target projects should have enough budget in terms of resources so you can easily hire trained and skilled people. For resources, you should consider the following:

  • Assign automation duties to specific resources who possess sound knowledge of any programming language and are well aware of automation standards, strategies, frameworks, tools, techniques, and analytical skills.
  • Open to challenges and has strong problem-solving and analytical skills.
  • If someone from the manual team is willing to perform automation, then proper training should be provided, and manual duties should be removed from that resource.

5. Pick the Right Tools for Automation

The nature of the platform (mobile, OS, web) should influence tool selection. In an ideal world, a tool should be in the same language as the application so that help can be found within it. The tool you choose should also have support. Price is another factor to consider, whether the tool is open source or licensed. Think about how well the tool can work with other tools, such as JIRA or TestRail. You should prefer those tools that require a flatter learning curve and are easy to use. The team should be able to adopt that new tool and easily work on that, like in codeless automation.

6. Estimate Automation Efforts Correctly

You can’t say that you can automate an average of 50 cases in 5 hours because each case will differ in logic, complexity, and size. Always provide estimates in effort or hours against each case, or the most appropriate way is to provide consolidated estimates feature-wise. For example, if there are two features, signup, and login, then provide the average time for both features separately.

7. Capitalize on the Learning Opportunity in Automation

Consider automation a growth and skills development opportunity for both organizational and individual levels. Accept the challenges and issues that you faced during automation as a learning point and try to fix them. Automation will help you improve your work, make you more marketable, and raise your worth and standard.

8. Make Automation a Part of CI/CD

CI/CD is used to speed up the delivery of applications. For continuous testing, you should set up a pipeline for automated test execution. When developers merge code from different branches into one, they test the changes by making a build and running automated tests against it. By doing so, you avoid integration conflicts between branches. Continuous integration emphasizes test automation to check that the application is not broken whenever new commits are integrated into the main branch. Here are some best practices to follow:

  • Your automation code is aligned with the stable branch in which developers are going to merge their changes.
  • Set up execution email during configuration, which will be received at the end of each execution. 
  • Keep an eye on the results in case of build failure/conflicts with your automation test cases.
  • Once the status of test cases is passed, the build should deploy to production.

9. Implement the Best Coding Practices for UI & Functional Test Automation

Aside from the above, there are a few other important things to think about when automating because we need to follow international coding standards.

  • Make full use of version control software. Don’t keep the code locally. Always push your code even if you made a one-line change.
  • Remove unnecessary files/code from your automation project.
  • Remove unnecessary comments from your code.
  • Use boundary value analysis, equivalence partitioning, and state transition techniques in your automation.
  • Have a separate testing environment for automation.
  • Follow the best coding practices of the chosen programming language.
  • Always use dynamic values and avoid using static data and values in your code.
  • Use implicit wait instead of explicit wait to boost efficiency. 
  • Implement a reporting mechanism to have an execution report at the end of every execution cycle.
  • Capture screenshots in case of failure for failure investigation.
  • Log bugs on JIRA, TFS, and teamwork.
  • Write code that is reusable and easy to understand.
  • Refrain from writing too much code in a single function; use the concept of high and low-level functions.
  • A Senior Automation tester/Developer should review your code.
  • Use a page object model where you will define your functions in one file and test cases in another file.
  • Make sure your code is clean, readable, and maintainable.

Advantages of Using the Best Practices in Automation Testing

Using these best practices for automated testing will help you increase the number of test cases that are covered, make the testing process quick, easy, and convenient, and keep your code easy to maintain. It’s also cheap and lasts a long time, and it will keep your automation testing for any applications or projects safe for the future. This will help boost productivity, save time and money, and enhance your skill set.

In The End

Automation is not rocket science. It’s just a matter of following the proper techniques and approaches. All you need to do is some brainstorming on the best strategy, some R&D on tool selection, identification of your team’s skills, and definition of your project scope, and then just start the automation. You will soon begin to see why automation testing is all the rage in this day and age. The one-time-right investment in automation (time, resources, and budget) will save you from many hurdles in the future.

FAQs For Test Automation Best Practices

Good coding practices while automation includes a series of things, like removing unnecessary codes and comments from your project, having separate testing environments, capturing screenshots whenever you detect a failure, and more.

Some of the key factors while conducting advanced text and automation start from setting realistic expectations, picking the right cases, the right tool. Allocating the best budget and selecting the best team to conduct all these testings.

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