You’re undoubtedly familiar with the concept of software testing. You’re likely in agreement that testing is critical to validate software functionality and, when integrated early into the development process, to discover defects. You’re probably aware of the two main testing types, too – manual testing and automated testing. But, do you feel confident knowing when to use each approach? It’s not always straightforward, so we’re here to clarify.
Understanding Manual vs Automated Testing Approaches
Software testing can be broadly classified as manual testing and automated testing. We feel there’s a time and a place for each approach – the right testing framework may even incorporate both.
Manual tests are executed by quality assurance experts who run test cases and generate reports by hand. They don’t rely on any support from tools or test scripts.
On the other hand, automated tests rely on software to run scripted tests. An automated test compares the actual results with the expected results, which determines whether the software is working as expected.
The objective of any project is to get a high-quality output while reducing the cost and time required for completion. How do you manage costs while improving quality? One surefire way to do both is by focusing on your return on investment (ROI).
Using ROI to Drive Testing Approaches
Sam Kukadia, Senior Manager for Concord’s Quality Engineering and Testing team, believes that a business should focus on ROI when determining what tests should be automated. ROI can be framed in terms of cost savings, speed of test coverage, product quality, or risk mitigation.
“In instances where there are only one or two test cases, manual testing should be the preferred method because automated testing will have low ROI,” Sam explains. As the number of test cases increases, businesses should consider implementing an automated testing strategy.
“Organizations with a large number of repetitive test cases are good candidates for automated testing. Automation allows one to execute a test at any given time with minimal human intervention. Once created, automated tests can be run over and over again at no additional cost. They’re also much faster than manual tests. We have seen automated testing reduce the test cycle time from days to hours,” shares Sam.
Four Steps to Getting Started with Automation
Step 1: Building a Testing Team
If the ROI suggests automation is a strong choice for your organization’s test portfolio, the next step is building a testing team. Taking note of available technology, tools, and resources helps a team determine if they have the skill set needed to meet your testing goals. In some cases, it may be necessary to partner with an external team who can evaluate your processes and provide recommendations for faster testing and improved quality.
Step 2: Deciding on an Automated Testing Framework
With the right talent in place, the next step is to deciding on the automated testing framework. A test framework enables efficient design of test scripts and helps ensure reliable analysis of issues or bugs. According to Sam, finding the right framework “depends on which technology stack the software is developed and the organization’s technology landscape. If there isn’t existing test automation, a company typically starts with a proof of concept (PoC).”
Step 3: Conducting a Proof of Concept
Teams should conduct a PoC once they have a preliminary list of automated test frameworks. A PoC can provide valuable information about tool usability and identify potential risks or tool limitations. “Performing a PoC ensures that the framework meets the testing requirements and that there’s no resource gap,” Sam explains. Based on a PoC, a team should be able to determine if a tool is a good fit for the project requirements or if there is another framework with better ROI. Choosing a framework greatly influences the project and testing process, so the framework strategy must align with the business objectives of the organization.
Step 4: Implementing Automated Tests
After a framework is selected, the process of implementing automated tests can begin. Teams should start small and iterate as needed. Sam states that teams will often automate an excessive number of tests, which can result in challenges down the road. “It’s important to define what to automate, and not automate all tests. Teams should focus on the most-repeated tests or those with critical features. It’s easier to identify and fix points of failure in small increments than to isolate what broke during a large rollout,” says Sam. By using an iterative process, businesses can adjust their strategy as needed and build on areas where automation is generating an increased ROI.
Your Test Automation Journey
Determining the right testing approach for your organization takes some time and though the transition from manual to automated testing will not happen overnight, you can achieve success with the right resources, tools, and team. If you’re looking for guidance in your testing approach, Concord experts can help maximize the value of testing from defining frameworks to full-scale development and implementation. Contact us today to learn more.