Addressing common test automation failures

  • Articles
  • July 26 2019
  • 4 min read

The emergence of new tools, tactics have bloomed the software development landscape. Testing being ‘the most’ important stage of the entire software development life cycle has progressed rapidly. Automated testing has emerged as a major when it comes to continuous testing and continuous delivery of a successful software product. They say the test automation has made the testing process easier, enhanced quality and immensely saving the time of the IT companies, considered a boon for the programmers. 

The real scenario states most often failures in the pre-scripted tests have been seen, lowering the efficiency of the programmers. Failures occurring at the most advanced stages of the software development process can be a lot to swallow. Having a clear understanding of the test automation associated challenges and sequentially fixing the issues will do in time stitches. 

Approaching Test Automation

Just doing automation by using various integrated tools will never magnify the quality nor will it do any favors to the IT companies. Instead of wasting oodles of time in manual testing or an unplanned test mechanism, a customized approach for test automation appears to be a great return on investment.
Mike Cohn's Test Automation Pyramid strategize the automation testing procedure according to the organization’s temperament capitalizing it to a smoking test automation deal. Introduced in his book, Succeeding with Agile amplifying automation is the major aim of the test automation pyramid. Testing on three different levels is a requisite for a competent test automation arrangement. The figure depicting the test automation pyramid pasted below.

Image showing mike cohens test automation pyramid in triangle shape having blue outlining divided into three levels as Unit, Service and UI from bottom to top
Source: Mountain Goat Software

As can be seen from the figure above unit tests are the foundation for a sound test automation strategy constituting the largest part of the pyramid. The precise data propounded by the unit tests to the programmers helps them a lot to have a clear view of the codes narrowing the issue window. In addition to that same language, scripting makes unit testing more comforting.

The middle service layer is the one where sits the business logic like the product offers a legitimate output when given some inputs. This can only work appropriately if the logical base is firm and solid. Testers check for the logics in the same.
At the top of the test automation pyramid lies the User Interface (UI), covering the less pyramid area portraying a little of the same needs to be done. UI tests are a bit slow, expensive, eats time and fragile this is the reason they are kept to the least.

Test Automation Challenges and their ‘Handy’ Solutions

man climbing a rock wearing shorts with safety ropes attached to him surrounded by green tree leaves and blue sky

Test automation seems fascinating when seen first but when applied in full flow it comes with a lot many challenges for both the development and testing teams. Repetitive bugs, code refactoring issues, delay in the addition of new features, denial in code updates or changes by the developers are the few recurring ‘unavoidable’ challenges that arise affecting the complete development life span. Consequently, cost, time and efforts are wasted. 
The aforementioned situations arise just because of the common faults made by the teams while going through the process.

The First Thing Should Come First

Let’s say prioritization is significant when it comes to performing the automation testing of the software modules. Before prioritizing the list of tasks, asking Why is imperative i.e. Why prioritize it to the earlier automation testing stages?

Paul Merrill, an automated testing consultant at Beaufort Fairmont suggests, before moving ahead to any of the test automation objectives first ask for what, why and how. 

Clear identification of goals and expectations for each test automation process earlier to the real test execution enhances quality in an accountable way.

Automation Going the Wrong Road

Many development teams try to convert each testing task into the automation scripted procedure. This increases the overhead burden. Automating everything is not a very smart idea. Automation of everything is not required for efficient testing says, Joe Colantonio, Test Automation Architect.

The tests that are repetitive and may result in some inevitable consequences need to be automated. Make a list, prioritize and shoot. Performance testing is one such area which can be done very well with the automation tool.

Selection of ‘Inappropriate’ Automation Tools

Automation testing does not mean a single tool will do all the tasks for the entire testing cycle. For separate testing stages, distinct automation tools are required. The integration of many tools will form the complete test automation package. Micro Focus’s Buyer's Guide to Test Automation Tools suggests organizations should follow it on ask for a proposal base. Developer-tester, technical testers, and the non-technical people, each profile requires separate testing tools.

Describing the appearing problems and then finding the tool for the same is the most favored approach. Keeping the business budget forth, choose the tool that can be easily used by both the coders and non-coders. Two-week trial with the chosen tool to make sure it can address the problems and can gel-well into the organization's environment.

Check out some of the best automated visual testing tools here.

‘Open Source’ does not Imply It's a Match

The best part of open source tools is their free of cost license availability. But they come with a lot of limitations, functionality, not loaded with full features, more skills are required, etc.

On the basis of the problems and their respective solutions, a search for both open source and commercial tools can be done. A combination of commercial and open-source is also a good fit when it comes to reasonable test automation.

Incorrect Test Automation Metrics Use

Many times organizations follow ahead with the incorrect metrics. A correct test result metric will bring insightful results and inhibit the right decisions for the organizations. When going wrong they may cause blunders. In order to measure the automation progress, it is imperative to keep an eye on the correct test automation matrices. Code coverage, feedback time, test pyramid are the examples of few valuable matrices.

Final Note

Technical or generalized, automation is spreading its wings to each and every realm. The software development industry has taken it on a more serious note than ever, due to the fast and a painless way of completing a task, when done right. Testing of software products being is done using various automated tools. Test automation has eased the process to an extent along with that has led many projects to fail too. The majority of the reasons by which test automation falls are foreseeable. With the aforementioned points in consideration following a realistic plan for the execution of the test automation process will bang for your buck. 

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