Is automated testing suitable for a project? At what point should we consider automated testing?
The primary aim of testing processes is to provide high-quality software to the final users. Testing forms an essential part of the Software Testing Life Cycle (STLC).
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Many companies focus on software testing with customer satisfaction in mind, but often face difficulty when deciding between automated and manual testing.
This piece aims to offer readers a clear understanding of automated testing, the apt time to choose it, and importantly, when not to. Furthermore, it offer insights into maximizing the use of automated testing tools.
Effectiveness and cost-efficiency are significant factors in any project. It’s vital to ensure that the tasks are accomplished efficiently, within the established budget, and fulfill customer expectations.
You Will Learn:
- Software Testing and Its Cost Advantages
- The Thought Process Behind Software Testing
- Is Automation Really Necessary?
- What Makes Automation Necessary?
- The Risk Factor
- When Should One Avoid Automation?
- The Cost-ROI Balance in Automation
- Can Automation Lead to Little or NO Cost Reduction?
- Final Thoughts
Software Testing and Its Cost Advantages
Software testing is primarily executed by software testers. Testers, unlike final users, possess an in-depth comprehension of the functional and technical aspects of the software. Test plans and cases are developed according to the client’s specifications.
A test plan gives a comprehensive representation of the testing procedure, including the resources and sources involved, timelines, exclusions, and the testing environment.
Test cases are devised after a detailed understanding of the software’s functional and technological attributes. Testers should have excellent observation abilities and comprehensive knowledge of the software.
The cost is a significant factor in software testing. Clients usually prefer quality software at the least possible cost. Manual testing often turns out to be time-consuming and monotonous, as it depends entirely on human testers for task execution.
For instance, executing regression testing with numerous test cases could take about 50 hours if one uses manual testing. Comparison-wise, automated testing allows optimal resource use and maximum test case coverage, thereby significantly reducing time and effort.
The Thought Process Behind Software Testing
Deciding when to start and end the testing process is vital for any organization. Starting the test design process while development is ongoing is considered best practice, instead of waiting for the development phase to conclude.
The initiation and termination norms for software testing are given below:
Test plans are devised during the planning stage once the design document gets approved. Proper hardware installation and configuration are necessary, along with a verification of its functionality. Approved and clear functional needs are essential. The developed code should undergo unit testing and get approved by the developers.
Test cases and test data preparation should be given the green light. Both the test data and application should be available. Testers should have adequate knowledge about the application, and resources should be trained in the required tools and functionalities.
Testing cannot proceed if any of these prerequisites are missing.
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Testing can only be deemed complete when at least 95% of the mandatory test cases have passed. Determining when to stop testing can be tough, as it involves various considerations.
The significant exit criteria include:
- All identified bugs have been resolved.
- The project deadline has been met.
- The project budget has been exhausted.
- All test cases have been successfully completed.
- The testing phase has been signed off.
- A specific percentage of testing is completed.
- Alpha and Beta testing are complete.
Exit criteria can be decided based on factors such as risks and costs. Usually, testing is ended once the main functional requirements are tested, ignoring minor bugs to avoid delays.
Is Automation Really Necessary?
When considering automated testing methods, available resources are a significant factor. Automation comes in handy in checking data flow and functionality without manual interference, especially in cases where the software experiences frequent modifications or multiple versions.
After every development cycle, the newly incorporated functionality is tested alongside older functionality to ensure no negative impact. In these instances, automation can be particularly helpful.
Automated testing becomes an ideal choice when dealing with code-based logics and GUI requirements where the risk factor is high.
Example: With Software ABC, there are frequent updates and modifications. Regression testing is done on the live software after every update or release. Automated testing of the basic version or older functionalities can save considerable manual efforts and time.
What Makes Automation Necessary?
Automation becomes the preferred choice in the following cases:
- When regression testing involves significant coverage.
- When manual errors lead to cost optimization efforts.
- When the software has many versions and subsequent releases.
- When it proves to be cost-efficient in the long term.
- When the risk involved in extensive test execution is high.
- When the software comprises cost calculations and mathematical operations.
- When there’s need for enhanced speed, effectiveness, and software quality in testing.
- When short turnaround time is needed, even for high-risk testing.
The Risk Factor
Risk factors are common in businesses where time plays a pivotal role, for instance, transactional systems that interact with different applications. In these situations, the software should ideally function as per design specifications. Automation can significantly speed up functional transactions, ensuring accurate conduct.
For example, a Forex market indicator depends on timely and correct information. Automated testing can aid in testing such software for high-risk situations.
Example: Software ABC experiences regular updates and modifications. Regression testing is accelerated, and turnaround time is reduced by employing automation to test the base functionalities that remain constant, even amidst other parts of the software undergoing changes and updates.
When Should One Avoid Automation?
Many organizations often question why 100% automation isn’t feasible.
The answer is NO, as automated testing requires adept users who are also well-trained. Automation cannot be deployed during the initial stages when application requirements are uncertain.
Usually, automation is the preferred choice from the second iteration of any software release onwards. Changes in the user interface can be costly, and maintaining the automation scripts can be expensive as well. If the cost of automation tools surpasses the project budget, automation should not be pursued.
Example: In Software XYZ’s scenario, client requirements keep evolving and cannot be frozen. In such situations, automation cannot support regression testing as manual testing is needed to identify and test changes within the software.
The Cost-ROI Balance in Automation
Initially, the return on investment (ROI) for automation may be low as upfront automation costs can be high. However, as manual testing efforts reduce with every release iteration, ROI increases. Having a clear understanding of the anticipated outcomes of test cases is important before proceeding to automation.
Test case design holds high significance in automation, and careful tool selection is needed to manage costs effectively.
Can Automation Lead to Little or NO Cost Reduction?
Automation entails costs too, because the necessary testing tools must be procured and resources need to be trained. Automation testing experts should carefully select the tools to ensure they cover the software to the maximum extent.
Example: Consider product XYZ that deals with insurance. The company initially depended only on manual testing to minimize costs. However, given the high-risk nature of insurance, even minor errors in calculating premiums can lead to significant losses. In such cases, manual testing is employed for basic user interface checks, while automation is used for high-risk functionalities to save time and effort.
Both automation and manual testing have their advantages and disadvantages. There’s no one-size-fits-all method, and the choice of testing method depends on various factors such as the design, technology, and platform.
No project can completely depend on manual or automated testing. Thorough evaluation of requirements and expert counsel are key to making the right decisions in testing.
If you believe there are crucial factors that we missed in this piece, please highlight them. We appreciate your comments and suggestions.
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