Getting Started with Test Automation

A beginner's guide to test automation and its benefits


May 16, 2023 | Read time: 8 min

What is Test Automation?

Test Automation implies specialized tools to automatically execute test cases, delivering faster and more accurate results than manual testing. It saves time by quickly executing test suites, reducing human intervention, and improving testing’s return on investment (ROI).

Automation testing allows you to easily input test data, compare expected outcomes with the actual results, and generate detailed test reports. Despite requiring a certain level of investment, automation testing streamlines the software testing process for your organization.

What Is the Difference Between Manual and Automation Testing?

Let’s discover the main differences in the following chart:


manual vs automated testing.png

Although automation testing has clear advantages, it is important to note that manual testing can provide benefits that automated tools cannot match. Manual testing benefits from human expertise and knowledge.

Therefore, the ideal approach is to have a combination of both manual and automation activities in your testing cycle. This way, you can leverage the strengths of each approach and ensure comprehensive testing.

Why Test Automation?

Automation testing enhances effectiveness, expands test coverage, and increases execution speed in software testing.

The key benefits include:

  • Increased Speed: Automated tests can run continuously, in parallel, and without human intervention, speeding up test execution and reducing overall testing time.
  • Improved Accuracy: Automation testing minimizes human errors by following predefined steps, eliminating the chances of testers introducing mistakes during execution.
  • Cost Savings: Projects with advanced infrastructures or diverse applications see the highest automation ROI. While costs may be a barrier, long-term ROI in accuracy, speed, and consistency is guaranteed.
  • Continuous Testing: Automated tests can be run frequently at any stage of development, even integrated into the development pipeline for automatic execution upon software changes.
  • Consistency: Automation testing ensures test cases are executed consistently every time, making it indispensable for continuous testing scenarios, such as regular regression test runs.
  • Enhanced Test Coverage: Automated test suites can be reused for multiple browsers, devices, and operating system combinations, improving coverage and efficiency.
  • Improved Test Reusability: Automated tests can be stored and reused across systems, saving time for testers during each testing cycle.

Investing in automation testing brings significant benefits to software businesses and individuals working in the digital industry.

Which Test Cases Should We Automate?

Prior to automating any situation, it's important to balance the advantages and disadvantages.

The following test cases are good candidates for test automation:

  • Tests that are vulnerable to human mistakes;
  • Monotonous and repetitive examinations;
  • Extensive tests using a variety of data sets;
  • Tests that cannot be carried out manually;
  • Manually demanding testing spending a lot of time;
  • Tests that carry a high risk;
  • Tests that must be run on different hardware and software systems.

Remember that not all test cases are appropriate for automation. Due to their unpredictable nature, test cases whose requirements change frequently, and test cases run on an as-needed basis shouldn't be automated.​​​​

Testing Automation has a wide range of use cases, including:

1. Various industries: IT, Tech, Gaming, Banking, eCommerce, Finance, Insurance, Telecommunications, and Education, among many other industries.

2. Wide range of applications: Quality aspects of websites, mobile applications, desktop applications, and APIs.

3. Different testing types: A wide variety of testing types, including regression testing, acceptance testing, unit testing, and integration testing.

4. Multiple testing environments: Various operating systems, browsers, and devices.

Why Test Automation Fails and How Can We Improve It

1. Insufficient understanding of the application under test

Fully understanding the application's functionality, behavior, and expected outcomes is crucial. This knowledge facilitates the identification of suitable test cases for automation, particularly critical, time-consuming, and repetitive ones. To achieve this:

  • Review the application's requirements and specifications to understand its purpose, functionality, components, and dependencies.
  • Conduct exploratory testing to familiarize yourself with the application's features and behaviors.
  • Collaborate with the development team for insights into the application's design and implementation.​​​​​​

2. Poor collaboration between development and testing teams

Automation testing necessitates close collaboration between development and testing teams. Both teams should work together to integrate the testing process into the development process and address issues promptly. Best practices include:

  • Clearly defining roles and responsibilities: Each team should understand their responsibilities and expectations.
  • Joint planning and testing: Collaborate on test planning and execution to identify potential roadblocks early and ensure efficient, effective testing.
  • Using a common toolset: Employ a unified toolset for test planning, execution, and reporting to improve collaboration and information accessibility.

3. Inadequate planning and strategy

A well-defined test plan and strategy are essential for an organized testing process. Otherwise, identifying and resolving software defects may become delayed, causing further issues. To improve the automation testing process, follow these steps:

Determine the scope of automation: Identify suitable tests for automation and prioritize areas of the software that need more focus. Define your automation testing objectives and ensure they align with overall software development goals.

  • Select the appropriate tool: Choose a test automation tool that meets your needs and budget.
  • Prepare test data: Organize and compile data sets for use in automation testing.
  • Design and execute test cases: Write easy-to-understand, maintainable automated test cases that provide clear feedback on test results. Run tests, analyze results, and identify failures or errors.
  • Maintain and update tests: Employ good maintenance practices, such as the page object model framework or test refactoring, and track test flakiness.
  • Monitor and report results: Regularly review automated test results and report on their performance and effectiveness. A thorough analysis of test reports helps prevent critical faults from going unnoticed.

4. Not considering cloud environments

Cloud testing environments enable QA teams to execute automated tests across various browsers and devices without investing in physical machines. This approach provides agility, flexibility, and cost savings. Cloud testing environments can accurately simulate real-world conditions without the expense of hardware-software configurations. Additionally, testers can schedule tests to run automatically at predetermined times, ideal for regression testing.

5. Inappropriate tool selection

The chosen tool should support the application being tested and the testing requirements. An unsuitable tool may result in test automation failure and inefficient budget usage. Consider the following criteria:

  • Compatibility: Ensure the automation testing tool is compatible with your software development environment, including your operating system, programming language, and other tools.
  • Functionality: Verify the tool has the necessary features to create, run, report, and debug tests. Assess if the tool's strength (e.g., web UI testing) matches your testing needs.
  • Usability: The tool should have a user-friendly interface, easy navigation, and clear instructions.
  • Scalability: Choose a testing tool that can meet your current and future testing needs as your software evolves and grows.
  • Integration: A good automation testing tool should integrate with other tools, such as your bug tracking system or continuous integration platform, to streamline the testing process.
  • Support: Look for a tool with strong customer support, a vibrant community, and resources like forums, online tutorials, and knowledge bases.
  • Security: Ensure the tool has adequate security measures to protect your data and provide secure testing.
  • Reputation: Consider the tool's reputation in the testing community, including positive reviews and recommendations from users and experts.

Step-by-Step Guide to Automation Testing

Automation testing is a process that usually involves 5 steps, explained below:


1. Test Tool Selection

The first step in automation testing is to decide which type of tests you want to automate. Once you have defined your test requirements, you need to select the appropriate set of tools to perform these tests. There are several testing tools available in the market. The industry-standard tools for automated testing are based on code and code-based test scripts.

  • While selecting an automation tool, you should ask yourself:
  • How easy is it to develop and maintain scripts using the tool?
  • How many different platforms does the tool support? For example, web, mobile, desktops, etc.
  • How many different programming languages is the tool compatible with?
  • Does the tool provide a reporting mechanism?


2. Define the Scope of Automation

Once you have selected the best-suited test tool, you should define the scope of your test automation. You should consider defining the scope of automation by:

  • The complexity of test cases
  • Technical feasibility
  • Common functionalities across applications
  • Reusability and scalability of test cases for cross-browser testing


3. Planning, Design & Development

The Planning, Design & Development phase includes the following points:

  • Framework design & its features
  • Test case development
  • Test suite preparation (e.g., Smoke, Sanity, Regression)
  • Plugging framework with some CI/CD pipeline to achieve continuous testing


4. Test Execution

You can use either the test management tool, which will employ the test automation tool, or the automation testing tool at this phase. It is advisable to begin running the test scripts as soon as possible.

The Shift Left Testing method also suggests this. The Shift Left Testing approach recommends pushing the testing activities "Left" or "earlier" in the development cycle as opposed to traditional models like the Waterfall Model, where testing intervenes at the conclusion of the cycle. Involving testers sooner in the software development life cycle results in better results.


5. Maintenance

The last phase of automation testing is maintenance. In this phase, testing is performed to determine whether the newly added functionalities are working correctly or not. Maintenance improves the effectiveness of automation scripts with each successive release cycle.

Many organizations use this phase for Shift-Right Testing. “Shift-Right Testing”, or rather “Testing In Production”, happens after the software is deployed in production environments. It is mainly done to ensure the correct performance, stability, and usability of the application in the production environment.


GTD Infographic.png

As software projects become more complex, and project development cycles accelerate, traditional manual quality assurance (QA) testing may not be fast or complete enough to meet testing objectives within acceptable timeframes.

Test Automation decreases the time and effort needed for manual testing while ensuring the quality and dependability of applications.

You can increase the speed and quality of your testing, find bugs earlier in the development cycle, and ultimately provide better products to your customers with the correct tools and strategy.

Download our Test Automation Infographic! 


Regain confidence in your software's quality

Qualysoft offers a wide range of result-oriented and cost / time-effective testing services to ensure software availability, smooth, and uninterrupted functioning, cybersecurity, scalability, and stability.

Get in touch with us regarding your testing and QA needs and we will promptly get back to you.