What is automated testing?
Software testing is an important aspect of any IT project. However, the time, money, and resources necessary to perform effective testing (especially for large and complex systems) can quickly add up and increase the overall cost of the project.
Automated testing offers a way to reduce the time and effort needed in testing while at the same time delivering a faster and more reliable output. It’s done by creating and executing scripts that test the functions of a system by comparing the actual outcome with the predicted or intended outcome. This is as opposed to manual testing, where a human tester manually goes through screens, tries out different scenarios, and checks whether the results comply with the expected behavior.
Automated testing is often combined with automated deployment, where a developer simply “presses a button”, and the computer installs the update automatically and executes the automated test script, all without any manual work. This further speeds up the entire process from development to going live, as well as reduces human errors.
In this page, we’ll focus on automated testing as a process on its own and will not go into the topic of automated deployment.
What are the benefits of automated testing?
Automated testing saves time and money
Let’s say a new system is being built from scratch—for each development iteration, the team has to verify the new requirements, develop the new features, check if the new features affect the existing working functionalities, then make sure that the update works on all supported operating systems and devices.
This is where the automation comes in. While the initial setup of automated test cases can take a lot of time and effort, the development team can reuse these tests in successive deployments. Once the setup is in place, the automated tests can be run again at no additional cost, and they are much faster to get completed than manual tests, allowing companies to add features and improvements even on a daily basis if they want.
Automated testing improves the accuracy of results
Manual testing is more prone to errors, especially considering the number of conditions that need to be tested in each development iteration—even the most thorough tester can make mistakes during repetitive manual testing.
On the other hand, automated tests perform the same steps precisely every time they are executed, and can always have an accurate record of the results—as long as the test scripts are updated accordingly to reflect new changes in the software that need to be tested.
Automated testing allows for more deployments
Since the time allotted for testing is significantly shorter, companies are able to do more deployments in between shorter spans of time.
This is especially useful for getting new features out with a shorter time-to-market, or even deploying important changes to a system on a daily basis.
Automated testing improves the quality of the system
Testers can broaden the coverage of tests to help improve the software quality. With automated testing, the tests that take too much time when done manually can be executed unattended. Test automation can easily execute hundreds or even thousands of test cases, including the complex ones, during every run. One can even set a schedule for the scripts to run after office hours, and get detailed results the next morning.
Automated testing helps everyone involved in the project
The scripts created for automated testing are beneficial to testers and developers alike. The scripts can be used by the developers to catch problems and fix them before they even send the tasks to testers. Automated testing helps in finding issues at the early stage of software development, therefore reducing the risk of delivering a faulty software.
On the other hand, the testers also benefit by being able to focus on other tasks, like checking the UI and UX of the system and making sure that it’s fully optimized for conversions, since the automated test scripts can run without human intervention.
How we do automated testing at 1902 Software
Despite the many benefits of automated testing, it’s not always the best option for every test case in a development project. For example, aspects like UI and UX still need human eyes to test that everything is properly optimized. It’s also not always practical to implement automated testing, especially for smaller and straightforward systems, considering its initial setup cost.
With that said, here’s how we implement automated testing in our development projects:
1. The first step is determining which parts of the software should be automated. The project manager lists down all the features that will be automated, and reviews the list with the customer. It’s usually these factors that are considered:
- High-risk and business-critical features;
- Processes that are repeatedly being tested every development iteration;
- Complicated test conditions or features that are difficult to test manually;
- Processes that are time consuming to test manually;
By default, the test scripts are executed after every deployment on the staging and live server. But if there are other schedule preferences from the customer (e.g., the script should run on Fridays at a specific time), it’s also defined at this stage.
2. After the list of features have been finalized, the scope of automation is defined in detail:
- Business-related conditions that should be considered;
- End-to-end user flows;
- Test scenarios;
- Test data to be used during the execution, based from the test scenarios.
3. We then set up the test environment. We typically support the current browsers and operating system versions as of development time.
4. After the test environment has been set up, we then develop the test scripts. The creation of test scripts is based on the requirements laid out in the first step. During the development of test scripts, there is a close coordination between the developers of the system and the ones who manage the test scripts, so that any feature change or updated will be included in the automated test.
5. The test scripts are then executed, after which, a detailed test report is sent to the project manager. If a problem is detected by the script, the project manager gauges the degree of severity of the issue (i.e., if it requires an immediate fixing or not).
6. The scripts are maintained by constantly reviewing and modifying them as needed when new functionalities are introduced to the features covered by the automated test. This is an important step to ensure the effectiveness of the automation scripts.
If you want to learn more about automated testing and how it could help your IT project, contact us today and our in-house QA team will be happy to help.