Importance of Test Automation in Agile
Written by: Ajay Kumar & Navkiran Kaur, Agile Test Engineering, TribalScale
You might have heard about different testing methodologies in an Agile environment. As QA Engineers, apart from daily scrum activities, our major focus is to test accurately and quickly so that maximum code coverage is achieved and the product to be delivered is of great quality. In order to conduct the testing, we QA engineers can follow manual testing or automation testing approaches. While both these methods of testing serve different purposes, we’ll discuss the crucial features provided by automation testing and how automation testing helped us in delivering better quality features and applications.
The outcome of Agile methodology in software development is developing and delivering the product at a faster pace and on an accurate level. Agile testing revolves around the philosophy that continuous and daily testing activities are conducted along with code development and deployment. The purpose of integrating development with testing is to identify the bugs at an earlier stage and make the release a smooth process.
As test automation is combined in software development within an Agile environment, the overall quality of the deliverable is enhanced due to the increased productivity of the activities followed in the software development lifecycle. Owing to release being faster and better quality, manual testing might not fit the bill in an Agile framework, thus increasing the opportunities for businesses to adapt to the latest automation tools.
What Is Manual Testing?
Manual testing is the process in which QA executes tests one-by-one in an individual manner. The purpose of manual testing is to catch bugs and feature issues before a software application goes live.
How Manual Testing Works
Manual testing is very hands-on. It requires QA to be highly involved in everything from test case creation to actual test execution.
What Is Automation Testing?
Automation testing is the process in which testers utilize tools and scripts to automate testing efforts.
How Automation Testing Works
Automation testing involves testers writing test scripts that automate test execution. A test script is a set of instructions to be performed on target platforms to validate a feature or expected outcome. This includes adopting different frameworks and technologies to support the automation project.
Manual Testing vs Automation Testing
During our day-to-day testing activities, we have found some significant differences in using manual vs automation testing techniques which we have discussed below:
- Manual testing is done manually by QA (human) whereas automation testing is done with the use of script, code and automation tools (computer) by a tester.
- Manual testing process is not accurate because of the possibilities of human errors whereas the automation process is reliable because it is code and script based.
- Manual testing is a time-consuming process whereas automation testing is very fast.
- Manual testing is possible without programming knowledge whereas automation testing is not possible without programming knowledge.
- Manual testing allows random testing whereas automation testing doesn’t allow random testing.
Benefits of Automation Testing
Automation of the software testing process can prove to be beneficial to the QA teams of an organization in several ways, the key ones are mentioned below:
a] Increased Test Coverage
Automation testing can significantly improve the test coverage because it allows lengthy tests to be covered in less time, thus allowing more tests to be covered under the tight time frame software development teams work with. This is possible not just because of the speed of automation but also the fact that a test automation tool can perform tests unattended, which results in better utilization of time.
b] Improved Accuracy
Manual testing does hold the possibility of human errors, even if the most dexterous tester is executing the tests. This scope of errors, no matter how minimal, is completely eliminated with automation testing.
c] Faster Testing Process
Automation testing is significantly faster than manual testing, simply because it involves the use of tools and scripts. This increased speed can give an additional advantage to QA teams as it helps them execute tests multiple times with ease, and still meet the deadlines.
d] Increased Scope of Software Testing
Automation testing can execute test cases that are impossible to achieve with manual testing. For example, regression testing, which involves executing a test against multiple sets of data or inputs, can turn out to be a mammoth feat for manual testers but can be easily accomplished with automation.
e] Reusability of Test Cases
With automation testing, the same set of test cases can be re-used to test different versions of the software and can be upgraded when required to incorporate the addition of new features and discovery of new bugs. Software testing can get repetitive and an automation testing tool can easily take care of the repetitive steps and at the same time eliminate the risk of human errors.
f] Earlier Detection of Bugs
Automation testing makes it possible to detect bugs during the early stages of the software development lifecycle. While this may seem inconsequential, it can go a long way in saving time and costs incurred in fixing bugs later. Whenever there is a change in the source code, the tests can be run automatically to detect any bugs and/or issues. Moreover, the simultaneous running of test cases makes it possible to generate detailed reports for easy comparison.
Automation testing doesn’t just benefit the QA or Development team, but we’ve also observed the benefits that it can bring to an organization on a business level. The key ones are mentioned below:
a] Improved Quality of Software
Automation testing increases the quality of software. Several factors like the improved test coverage, increased efficiency of testing, and higher levels of accuracy as compared to manual testing, ensure that the end product meets the highest quality standards. This is a significant benefit that a business experiences with the implementation of automation testing.
b] Reduced Cost of Testing
The earlier bugs are detected in the software development lifecycle, the less expensive it is to fix them. Test automation leads to reduction in the cost of bug fixing as bugs can be detected at an earlier stage as compared to manual testing. This can translate to significant cost-reduction for the organization.
c] Faster Time to Market
Automation saves a lot of time through several features like simultaneous execution of test cases, regression testing, etc. The speed that automation brings to the software testing process results in a faster time to market for the product. This is another reason a business should switch to automation as delivering a product within the stipulated time frame is what every development team aims for.
d] Boost in Employee Morale
Using automation testing to take care of the mundane and repetitive tasks can boost the morale of your testing team as it gives them the time and opportunity to improve their skill sets and work on more challenging assignments. This positive mindset helps them contribute better to the organization.
Is Automation Testing Always Useful?
The answer, shockingly, is NO. There are some scenarios in which automation testing might not be useful at all. We came across a few scenarios where manual testing was preferred over automation testing while working:
No One Tool for All: There are different tools in the market for Web Automation, Mobile Automation, Desktop Automation and so on. For example, if you are using Selenium, it does not support Mobile Automation on its own. A manual tester can however test a single feature across different devices, sometimes at the same time.
No Automation for Pictures or Gifs: These automation tools cannot support automation scripts or functions for barcodes, images, audio, videos, captchas, etc. Manual effort is needed in testing such scenarios.
Not Outsmarting Humans: QA has come to play a significant role. One example from experience is that a manual tester can point out that navigation on the page of an application is not accurate and not providing the desired functionality, while an automation test might not throw an error for the same test.
As discussed above, the advantages of automation testing definitely outweigh the disadvantages and should not hold back any QA member in using automation for their project for a reliable and better quality product. In our opinion, automation testing is important because it enables the organization to achieve testing goals with ease and at the same time, reaches high ROI that more than compensates for the initial investment.
To implement test automation, an organization needs to start with choosing a comprehensive test automation platform that provides a short learning curve, a zero coding framework, and offers multiple testing functionalities. In a nutshell, Agile activities are scaled up with automation testing when combined with the right technologies and tools, expertise and an effective roadmap.
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Ajay Kumar and Navkiran Kaur are Agile Test Engineers at TribalScale who have worked together on a project for their respective features, implementing and practicing different types of testing methodologies in their work. They share a common interest in learning and researching more about different automation frameworks and how they can be used for different testing scenarios.
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