Test automation remains the hottest quality assurance trend of 2020. It is the answer to realizing CI/CD and agile QA processes, but many teams have been struggling to achieve that due to many problems when implementing and working with test automation. Even highly professional QA engineers sometimes fail to effectively solve these problems early on. Today, let’s take a look at the common test automation problems, find out what causes them and discover the solutions.
Test Automation Problems Modern QA Teams Face
So what are the top problems that even modern QA teams have been sweating to solve on test automation?
- Unrealistic expectations of automated testing
- Using the wrong tools
- Automate useless tests and neglecting important test cases
- Choosing the wrong testing time
- Lack of proper testing
Let’s go through these test automation problems one by one and see if you are suffering the same.
1. Unrealistic Expectations for Automated Testing
It’s no secret that test automation has many benefits. Most importantly, it helps the QA team save time, efforts and resources. Doesn’t this mean that automating as many processes will improve efficiency accordingly? Not quite. Unrealistic expectations people have for test automation can mess up the entire testing process. You risk having too many test cases and QAs not doing their job.
Here’s why you can’t bet on automated testing alone:
Manual testing matters. You should never ignore manual testing. In some instances, testing an application manually is a way better solution than writing automated test scripts.
Manual testing is suited for:
- UI and usability testing
- Quick compatibility testing on e.g. one device or two
- One-time testing
- Ad-hoc testing
- Localization (L10N) and internationalization (I18N) testing.
Non-automated aspects of testing remain. Automated test scripts need people who support them. So, even if you insist on automating as much of your testing efforts as possible, you’ll still have non-automated pieces of work left.
Solution: A clear testing strategy.
Unrealistic expectations for automated testing stem from the lack of clarity in the testing strategy. So, before going with test automation, think it through properly. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Why does your team/project/company need test automation?
- What are your test automation goals?
With the answers in mind, you’ll be ready to write the testing strategy down. This is vital because it is going to guide the entire testing process. But make it clear and concise, and don’t forget to update your testing strategy from time to time.
2. Using the Wrong Tools
Test automation won’t work effectively if you don’t use the right tools. With so many different testing solutions on the market, it’s easy to get deluded. Choosing the wrong tool may result in scalability problems on top of never meeting your initial test automation goals.
Solution: Choose your tools wisely.
To solve this test automation problem, you need to be aware of your needs. Set the requirements and goals you want to achieve with the tool before deciding on it. Think about this:
- Does this tool meet your current goals?
- Can you afford this tool?
- Does it support integration with your team’s technology stack?
- What are your requirements criteria for the tool?
Mind that it takes some time to find the perfect solutions that align with your testing needs. But we can give you a couple of tips. If you are searching for a reliable mobile UI automated testing tool, take a look at TestComplete, for instance. It’s an easy-to-use solution that allows creating UI tests for web, desktop and mobile applications. As for web and mobile load testing, we advise you to check out LoadNinja.
3. Automating Useless Tests and Neglecting the Important Test Cases
Sadly, when it comes to automation, QA teams often start by randomly automating test cases. This leaves them with low test coverage and too many useless tests. Moreover, with this approach, you risk not covering the important scenarios and having gaps in software quality.
Solution: Find out what’s worth automating.
Before writing test scripts, researching is mandatory. Discover what’s worth automating and then you can start implementing automation where it’ll have the most impact. Select a proper testing approach, mind test metrics and reports.
Take a look at Mike Cohn’s test automation pyramid for reference. It’ll help you understand where automation is the most beneficial. According to the pyramid, it’s better to start with unit tests: they are easy, cheap and fast to complete. Then move to API, integration and component testing. Finally, automate UI tests and make just a couple of them.
You can also estimate the potential risks and automate testing accordingly. Define the most vulnerable spots in the system and start with testing there. Pick the ones where failures would be the most devastating to your business.
4. Choosing the Wrong Testing Time
Today, many teams still see testing as something that happens after development. Only when the whole build is ready, QAs start doing their job. This outdated approach can’t guarantee the high quality of software. It doesn’t allow QAs to test all the layers properly and there’s usually not much time left for testing.
Solution: Run automated tests in parallel with the development process.
Testing shouldn’t take place only in the final stages. If you want test automation to be effective, start running tests since the early stages of the development and continue to do so through the software development life cycle. Don’t forget that testing is a vital part of the continuous delivery pipeline: without test automation, there’s no successful CI/CD implementation.
5. Lack of Proper Testing
Among the test automation problems, this is one is the trickiest. The lack of proper testing occurs when QAs rely on automation too much and focus on tests passing rather than discovering bugs. The thing is, automation gives a false sense of security. With automated tests running repeatedly, it’s tempting to reduce human intervention and responsibility for the results. Such an approach has devastating outcomes like poor test design, inconsistent and ineffective testing.
Solution: QA team training.
Before implementing automation, train your team properly. Make sure they know their roles in the process and have enough technical skills to support the tests. Also, enforce test automation with exploratory testing to achieve more precise results.
A lot of managers want to reap the benefits of test automation, but automating tests isn’t easy. The unrealistic expectations about automated testing can ruin the whole process. Using the wrong tools can turn automation into a challenge. Automating useless tests and neglecting the important ones will create gaps in the product quality. Choosing the wrong time for testing will create obstacles on the way to CI/CD adoption. And relying too much on automation can lead to ineffective testing.
Luckily, all of these test automation problems are solvable. Remember that automating tests can’t and shouldn’t be your golden key. Find out what’s worth automating before you start testing, run tests in parallel with development and, most importantly, pick reliable testing tools that meet your business goals.