Since we have started the subject of software testing, two things are worth mentioning: QA process automation, or, in other words, automated tests. All around the world, in every area, people aim at automation of processes. It’s no different in IT branch and software testing.

So what automated tests are? In short, it’s a software which tests software in a way in which it has been programmed by a person who writes scenarios and testing scripts. One can automate web applications, mobile applications, back end – practically everything connected with a project, which is being developed by programmers.

Depending on a complexity of a project, chosen programming language or developers skills, we can choose different environments for testing. They differ regarding a language, in which test code is written, its complexity, or its usefulness in a project.

All right but implementing automated tests into a project means more lines of code which increase its sophistication and a risk of committing mistakes. Besides, we already have testers in a project, so why should we replace someone or add another tester only for writing automated tests?

Because the primary goal of automated testing is to check the performance of core functionalities and systems, and manual testing would take a lot of time. In the beginning, I need to say that automated tests complement manual tests and they can’t, for now, entirely replace them.

Automating QA process

And that’s where we ask ourselves, “when we should decide to automate QA process?” Let’s start from the beginning – automated tests are most helpful in a case of big or fast-growing projects when manual testers don’t have time for boring and repeating tests of basic functionalities (so-called regression tests).

The next, increasing problem, which can be solved by automated tests, is devices fragmentation. In that case, it’s about the existence of a vast amount of devices with different components, system versions, screen sizes, etc.

To recognise that application has been tested properly, we would have to test it on every available devices and system, and of course, that’s impossible. A solution that is the nearest to the ideal one, is to use a device farm, which is based on automated tests.

And that’s where automation shows its full potential. But I must add that an implementation of automation into a project has to be well-conceived because it means one-time massive labour input and some money destined for it.

Of course, it’s not possible to automate whole QA process because even the best software is not able to check if the application is user-friendly or if the design goes along with templates created during project discussion.

Summary

The biggest benefits of automation:
  • Manual testers work is lighter, and because of that a possibility of making a mistake or missing something by them is reduced
  • Tests may be repeated in an easy way, and we have a certainty that in the same conditions they will be done in the same manner
  • Flexibility – we can adjust scripts according to requirements, we can actualise them, and we can run only chosen scenarios
  • Rapidity of execution – in comparison with manual tests
  • Availability – it’s possible to test application 24 hours a day
  • Automated tests save time and money when used in the long term
Disadvantages:
  • Unprofitable in small or short projects
  • Writing good automated scripts is time-consuming
  • There may be some errors in test scripts, which can modify test results and in the end, we will be testing test code
  • It’s not possible to entirely replace human with computer – when tests will find an error, human performs detailed manual tests by repeating test scenario and trying to reproduce a problem. Automated tests won’t find differences in designs and won’t check if an application is intuitive and easy to use

Test automation is being used more and more often by IT companies because of many benefits connected with it. An amount of advantages is much larger than a number of shortcomings in particular conditions.

PS You are all invited to our growing testers’ community – BiałQA. 😉

Fresh software development tips delivered straight to your inbox

Subscribe to our monthly newsletter with useful information about building valuable software products.
Don't worry, we value your privacy and won't spam you with any bussines enquiries!

lukasz_dereszkiewicz

Software Quality Assurance Engineer

Software Quality Assurance Engineer who began his career by learning Android development. He soon realised that while working on a project, he prefers finding mistakes of others to making them. Lately, he specialises in automated testing of Android applications with the help of Calabash framework. He would willingly test applications without using a mobile phone. ;)
Additionally, he keeps up an unequal fight between running and eating cookies...