12 Test Automation Best Practices You Can Adopt Right Now

Nowadays, it’s rare to come across a firm that doesn’t wish to automate testing in the blink of an eye.…

Test Automation Best Practices
By Testim,

Nowadays, it’s rare to come across a firm that doesn’t wish to automate testing in the blink of an eye. However, apprehensions regarding its implementation might be stopping you from making the switch to automation. Nonetheless, automation testing is the best productivity booster you can use for your company. There are several test automation best practices that you need to be aware of.

You obviously can’t rush through implementing automated testing. However, procrastination will rob you of skyrocketing revenues. So, get started now and take some steps to increase your chances of automation success.

In this post, we’re going to look at 10 test automation best practices you can adopt right now. Let’s dive into the details.

Importance of Test Automation

We live in a fast-paced world. With the practice of canary releases, continuous integration, and continuous delivery getting more common, it’s important for the testing teams to keep up. Test automation helps in testing and delivering results faster. Teams save time using automated means for testing and can focus on aspects that require more human intelligence.

Any repetitive task can become boring, and boredom might lead to negligence. Doing the same tests manually, again and again, might decrease the accuracy of the tester. However, with test automation, the accuracy is consistent. The reusability of test suites contributes to this and makes the testing process faster. Testers can focus on adding different scenarios and test cases to test the application thoroughly, as a result, increasing the test coverage. Along with all these benefits, test automation can also reduce business expenses.

Now, getting to the heart of this post, let’s dive into the details and look at some test automation best practices.

1. Don’t Rely Completely on Automation Tools

Automation tools are undeniably important, but they don’t offer a solution for every problem. Thus, you should never rely completely on automation tools. Many folks think that if they choose the correct automation tool, they can automate anything. However, automation isn’t possible for all tests. And remember, automation does make testing a lot easier, but not without an impeccable skill set and relevant resources.

Sometimes, automation can result in false positives or false negatives. A false positive is when a system works fine, but automation scripts reflect the opposite. When a system doesn’t work well but automation scripts give the green light, that’s a false negative. Trying to find a fix to an error that doesn’t even exist wastes a lot of time. In the same way, overlooking an error can be fatal.

Therefore, it’s advisable to carry out exploratory testing along with using automation tools. Having a team of experts or at least one skilled automation engineer on your side ensures successful automation.

2. Automate Predictable, Easy to Automate, and Most Frequent Test Cases

Building on the previous point, we know that it’s not possible to automate everything. So, what’s the next step? Picking out the test cases we can easily automate!

Choose easy to automate, predictable test cases that occur frequently. Tests for which you have to manually carry out repeated executions are a good start for implementing automation.

Tests requiring conditional actions usually have predictable results—for instance, if you click on a button, an app launches. When generic processes have automated, predictable outcomes, the testing team has sufficient time to look into the details. Running frequent tests manually can result in errors such as leaving out steps by mistake. Thus, first automate the most frequent test cases and work your way up.

3. Ensure That Test Automation Ownership Is Collective

One of the biggest mistakes most software companies make is appointing a single engineer to carry out automation. In most cases, the rest of the team has little to no idea of what’s going on. The success of test automation relies on the team’s collective knowledge. To integrate automation into the workspace, you have to ensure that all team members are equally involved.

Shared ownership also gives skilled automation testers a chance to impart their skill and knowledge to others. This way, all team members are aware of the process and can contribute to the best of their abilities.

4. Remove Uncertainty and Review Validity for Automated Tests

Achieving consistent test results is one main reason most companies are adopting automation. When a test fails, the team has to check what’s wrong. But when the number of false positives or inconsistencies increases, it also increases the time needed for analysis. Thus, you have to eliminate unstable tests residing in regression packs to remove uncertainty.

Sometimes, automated tests don’t check the most vital verifications because they’re outdated. This usually occurs due to a lack of planning before implementing automation. It’s important to check whether the tests are up to date all the time. So, be sure someone is assessing the sanity and validity of automated tests.

5. Advocate for Hiring a Team of Experts or a Skilled Automation Engineer

Sometimes, firms with a limited budget will ask their manual testers to automate tests. What they fail to realize is that test automation itself requires a lot of time. Also, a company can’t completely overlook manual testing. Because both are equally important, it’s better for enterprises if they hire separate staff for both.

Even if your company is unable to afford a whole team of experts, the other way to go is to hire a skilled automation engineer. Then, depending on the number of products and workload, your company can scale up hiring dedicated resources.

6. Use Test Techniques and Target Quick Feedback

A common misconception is that test techniques are only for manual testers. But in reality, they can readily come in handy for test automation as well. For instance, API testing for analyzing performance and functionality is usually manual. But we can write a script using a global variable to automate API calls.

Moreover, developers have to be certain that any changes in the code haven’t broken down the existing functionality. Therefore, it’s important to target quick feedback to fix errors as soon as they occur.

7. Select the Appropriate Test Automation Tools

A simple Google search will display hundreds of test automation tools to choose from. But the big question here is, where do you start? After all, choosing the correct automation tool makes a real difference! There are other factors besides project requirements that you need to consider. For instance, not all team members have the same skillset and skill level. You need a tool that all team members can use without any hassles. It should also support multiple technologies and platforms.

You also need to take into account the operating system you use. If a firm uses both Android and iOS, it’s important to select tools that are compatible with both. It should also be easy to maintain, reusable, and resistant to sudden changes in the application or software.

8. Start Testing Early and Run Frequent Tests

The testing team should run as many tests as required and as often as needed. To add to the benefits, begin testing as early as possible.

Building an automated test suite should start with frequent testing from the initial stages itself. If you start testing early, the cost to fix bugs is a lot less than when you start testing at later stages. Moreover, writing and maintaining unit tests is inexpensive. Unit testing inspects an app at a low level and constitutes the bulk of automated testing.

9. Divide Testing Efforts Based on Skill

No one is at the same skill level in a QA team. And test creation is the most important process of test automation. Based on the tool chosen and the skill level of the team members, it’s essential to divide testing efforts. For instance, if you’re opting for an open-source tool, ensure that your automation engineer possesses decent coding skills. If you’re using proprietary tools, the QA team should be able to create test scripts without much training or guidance.

10. Create Tests That Are Resistant to UI Changes

When an application is in the initial phases, the UI can change builds. As a result, it might impact test results. It can also hamper the working of the automated tests with upgraded versions of the application. For instance, some automated test scripts use location coordinates to find an object. But when automation tests are run in such a case when the location has changed, the scripts won’t find the object and will result in a test failure.

You might need to replace old names with new ones to make the test successful. Providing unique names for controls is a viable way to ensure that UI changes don’t affect test results. This way, you can create tests that are resistant to UI changes.

11. Monitor and Improve Test Coverage

It’s important to make sure that your tests cover different parts of your application. Test coverage monitoring helps you understand what your tests have covered and what needs to be covered. You can use this information to add/update your test cases. On the other hand, you can also identify test cases that are not adding value and optimize your tests. Test coverage monitoring can be of great help especially to test conditionals statements. It can help you identify issues at an early stage. Therefore test coverage practices help improve the overall quality of testing.

12. Cross-Platform and Real Device testing

There are 2 aspects here:

  • The application should work on different browsers/platforms.
  • The application should work under different conditions.

You never know what browser and platform the end user would use. And it’s not good for business if you cater to just one type of audience. Therefore it’s important to test your application on different combinations of browsers and platforms. This will help help you identify any gaps you might have missed out on while building the applications because while developing, developers mostly stick to one (or some) browser/platform. Tools like Testim support testing on different browsers and platforms by making use of grids.

In addition to that, it’s also important to also test on real devices. “Aren’t simulators, virtual machines enough?”, you ask? Well, simulators can be used to test your application on different virtual devices. However, there’s a limit to how natural these simulators are. For example, creating a scenario of network fluctuation is too difficult using simulators. Testing your application on real devices can help you build your application to deal with real-life scenarios.

Summing It Up

The bottom line is that if you’re thinking of automating testing for your firm, it’s essential to stay informed. Plan well and prioritize various processes, and don’t be afraid to implement your strategies. Automation testing relieves the QA team from running regression tests and saves time. Test automation is a boon for the entire firm, as long as you do it right. The 12 test automation best practices mentioned here will help you make the most out of your test automation efforts. And if you wish to take automation testing to the next level and learn about mobile automated testing, check out our guide that shares five key considerations for evaluating mobile automated testing solutions.

This post was written by Arnab Roy Chowdhury. Arnab is a UI developer by profession and a blogging enthusiast. He has strong expertise in the latest UI/UX trends, project methodologies, testing, and scripting.