Why can an automation testing project fail?
A test automation failure is the last thing you want to think about when embarking on an automated software testing journey. However, many conditions are required for automation to be successful, and that is why no project is immune to failure. In fact, by one estimate, 64% of automation projects fail to deliver on the stakeholders’ expectations.
Of course, there are different ways to define failure in an automation testing environment: for some organizations, a failure would be a project that does not meet the expectations quality-wise, while others consider a project to fail when it exceeds the anticipated time and financial investments. Still, automated testing projects often fail for the same set of reasons, and here are the most common ones.
1. Desire to automate everything
We’ve mentioned before that automating 100% of tests is not only unrealistic but also simply unnecessary. However, some companies planning an automation project for the first time often fall into the trap of wanting to automate everything in a limited time. As a result, the company spreads its resources too thin, causing the testing team to pay less attention to the most vital areas of the project and letting those promising areas go to waste.
2. Shunning manual testing
One of the key takeaways we want you to have from our article it’s that right now, it’s impossible to completely remove manual testing from the formula of software quality assurance. Rather, testing automation should be viewed as a way to save time on repetitive tasks and use that time for manual testing activities that rely on the human experience. Therefore, ignoring manual testing will eventually lead to the entire QA project failing to deliver any valuable results.
3. Disconnect between management and technical specialists
A comprehensive test automation project is impossible without the management and technical teams being on the same page in terms of goals and how to get there. When the management simply expects an automation project to work and doesn’t really care what it takes, while the testing team doesn’t feel like their ideas and input are valued, the resulting testing outcomes will likely not satisfy anyone.
4. Wrong choice of automation software tools
Test automation frameworks and tools have a paramount effect on the success of the project, and while the right tools can dramatically improve testing outcomes, a wrong choice of tools will thwart everyone’s performance. This also includes the desire of some organizations to pick only open-source tools because they are free — not every open-source tool can do the job or integrate with other tools, especially on complex projects.
Best practices of automation testing
Launching an automated testing project requires a lot of effort from all participants, and that includes not only the steps needed to set up the project, but also following the industry’s best practices to achieve maximum efficiency and ROI. Here are the main automation best practices to follow.
1. Prioritize the tests
As we’ve mentioned earlier, an attempt to automate everything will hardly ever pay off. Plus, companies usually don’t have unlimited resources to spend on automation. This is why it’s important to prioritize test cases to avoid excessive spending of valuable resources. Specifically, some of the most important tests to automate include:
- Tests dealing with core app functionality
- Tests that are particularly prone to human error
- Tests that need to be run on a variety of platforms
- Tests that incorporate multiple software builds
- Tests that require a lot of repetitive action
- Tests that use vast amounts of data
2. Strive for clarity
The lack of clarity is what can sink even a successful automation project. This is especially common for tests that often produce false positive results or are otherwise inconsistent. The resulting absence of clear feedback forces the automation team to continue spending time on tests that don’t do anything for the success of the project. To achieve full clarity, the entire team should participate in regular reviews of the test suite and remove or update ones with inconsistent results.
3. Use physical devices for testing
When your goal is to test on as many device and platform combinations as possible, it can be very tempting to use simulators and emulators instead of physical devices to save money. And the accessibility and diversity of device emulators have come a long way in recent years. However, they are not yet capable of simulating real life conditions to the fullest extent, so you may never get a complete idea of how a regular user interacts with the product. Testing on real devices still cannot be beat.
4. Don’t underestimate the reports
At times, especially on a mature automation testing project where a certain quality benchmark has already been achieved, reviewing the reports may start to feel like a redundant task. However, detailed reports are invaluable for any test automation project. They allow teams to see when and where a software failure took place, what triggered it, how the rest of the application reacted, and so on. When a testing tool also comes with a screenshotting feature, the quality of the reports further increases.
5. Use high-quality test data
The rule of thumb for using data in automation testing is simple: before adding test data into the system, make sure it’s of the right quality. This is especially vital for data-driven testing, which largely relies on the quality of data to provide reliable results. The test data you use must not only be accurate, but also contain exceptions and data that will deliberately trigger errors in the application and therefore allow you to test it from all angles.