Test Automation as a Service: The Complete Guide to TAaaS

Inna M. by Inna M. on 01/21/2024

Test Automation as a Service: The Complete Guide to TAaaS

Automated software testing as a service is one of the biggest buzzwords of the testing industry of 2023, and it can only get bigger from here. Automation testing as a service is a relatively new service that takes the convenience, cost efficiency, and reliability of software testing outsourcing to the next level. But what exactly is automated testing as a service, how does it work, and how exactly can it benefit your company? Here is all the information you need to decide whether automated testing as a service (TAaS or TAaaS) is right for you.

What is Test Automation as a Service?

Test automation as a service is the practice of entrusting some or all of the company’s testing needs to an outside service provider. The service provider is usually a vendor who does automated testing professionally and has a sufficiently sized team to handle multiple projects at once for their clients. An automated testing as a service solution is typically designed for long-term cooperation, although short-term projects are also possible — for example, when a client needs an automation testing audit or requires help in setting up the test environment or training the team and then performing automation in-house.

TAaS projects do not always deal with automating testing from scratch. Very often, the company will start automation testing in-house, but as the size of the test suite grows while the size and capabilities of the team remain the same, the company may come to realize that it can no longer handle the increasing amount of work on its own. This is where an automated testing as a service solution can take over application testing and let the team go back to the core tasks.

How does TAaS work?

What happens after you decide your company needs automation testing as a service? The specifics will always depend on your requirements and the vendor’s tried and tested approach to automated software testing as a service. However, most TAaaS projects go over a certain sequence of steps, which include:

  1. The client identifies their testing needs. Most companies arrive at the decision to use automation as a service after their current testing setup no longer satisfies them in terms of software quality or resources spent. This is why, for a TAaS project to go the right way, the client needs to know for sure what they want to achieve in the end.
  2. Together with the client, the vendor will meticulously plan the automation project, using tangible methods to demonstrate the process and the outcomes to the client. It can be a test plan, test strategy, proof of concept of a specific framework, or sample tests to showcase the vendor’s expertise.
  3. Upon agreeing on the scope of testing, project timeframes and milestones, and composition of the team, the external AQA department can finally get to work. In most cases, the TAaS team works autonomously from the in-house operation while giving regular updates and communicating project changes to the client.
  4. The vendor’s team automates test after test, going over the initial plan and taking into account the client’s requirements, which can sometimes change over time. All test results are documented and transferred to the client in the form of deliverables.
  5. The project goes on for as long as specified in the contract. The client can make additional requests, expand the scope of work and the size of the team, and let the project continue after the initial portion of tasks is completed. The client can also downscale the project, leaving just one or two AQA engineers for ongoing project maintenance.

How is TAaS different from testing outsourcing?

Test automation as a service and automation outsourcing are very similar in their nature: they both reduce the strain on the company’s software development and testing management teams, allowing an organization to automate testing efficiently and with fewer resources used. The difference between the two types of services can be blurry, and companies sometimes use these terms interchangeably.

“A company providing automation testing as a service usually offers TAaS as its specialty and the only type of service available. Outsourcing companies typically offer a comprehensive range of services, which include both automated and manual testing, and often even development services. But when a vendor is only focused on testing automation as a service, they are more likely to possess all the knowledge and tools needed to do a perfect job.”

Taras Oleksyn, Head of AQA, TestFort

However, upon closer inspection, it’s easier to see how the two types of automation services are not the same. The key difference is the level of involvement in both types of projects. An outsourced team typically functions as an extension of the in-house operation: you can hire one or more specialists with the required expertise to strengthen the internal team, perform an audit, or set up an automation department. However, the client is typically responsible for most of the project features, from the infrastructure to test planning, and is continuously involved in the process.

With TAaaS, the client usually entrusts the entire automation testing project to an outside vendor. Vendors offer turnkey automation solutions, so the customer can enjoy solid results with minimal involvement. All the client needs to do is select the vendor, specify the request, select the size and composition of the team together with the vendor, and agree on the project goals and milestones. The rest of the project, from hiring decisions and setting up the cloud infrastructure to the day-to-day work of the automation department, is the vendor’s responsibility. 

So, if you are looking for minimal involvement in the project while still meeting your goals faster, then test automation as a service may be exactly what you need.

“Another difference between outsourcing companies and TAaS companies is that TAaS vendors often have a killer feature that outsourcing companies may not have. Personally, I’m witnessing a surge in the number of vendors that offer AI as a way to enhance the automation process, and we can expect it to become even more ubiquitous in the industry in the upcoming year.”

Taras Oleksyn, Head of AQA, TestFort

When should you use TAaaS and when should you perform testing in-house?

Automation as a service’s surge in popularity is not accidental: as more organizations discover the benefits of turnkey automation services and find a way to incorporate them into their software development and testing routine, we can expect TAaS to be featured in even more projects. Here is when it makes particular sense to use automated software testing as a service:

  • You want to speed up your release cycle. In a highly competitive world, where any new software solution is guaranteed to race against several established rivals, the ability to release software fast and with fewer bugs becomes a crucial advantage. Automated testing helps shorten the release cycle without sacrificing the quality.
  • You lack in-house resources or expertise. Establishing testing automation from the ground up is a big endeavor that requires strong AQA expertise and enough resources to fill key roles. With TAaS, you can find specialists even with the rarest expertise and quickly assemble the perfect team.
  • You need highly specific types of testing. There are testing types, such as compatibility testing or regression testing, that most testers are familiar with and can do successfully. But what if your project requires activities like hardware and IoT testing or HIPAA compliance testing? In that case, your best bet is a TAaaS vendor with proven expertise in the required field.
  • You require an outside perspective. When automation is done by your internal development team, the results of testing may be biased, as developers want software to work and are not usually conditioned to look for bugs. An outside team is free of this bias and can therefore deliver more reliable results on a continuous basis.
  • You want to leverage cloud services. While it is possible to use the cloud on most AQA projects, a typical automated testing as a service solution actively employs cloud services to establish the necessary infrastructure, analyze test data and generate reports, improve test scripts, and implement a more efficient CI/CD process.

We’ve already talked about the most popular use cases for automation as a service. Clearly, TAaS is a great fit for a wide range of projects and testing needs. However, we won’t go as far as to claim that turnkey automation works for everyone. Here is when establishing an internal AQA department is a better idea:

  • You have a small, short-term project. While it’s possible to automate a small testing project to make it even more cost-efficient and consistent, investing in automated testing as a service makes better financial sense for mid-sized and large automation projects. Smaller AQA jobs can be left to the development team, provided that the team members have the necessary expertise and can afford the time off from their main scope of work. 
  • Automation is your core business. When you have other organizations relying on your company for testing automation, the best way to ensure the unwavering quality of work and the loyalty of your customers is to do everything in-house. When you hire specialists for your internal team and help them develop into automation experts, you can always expect splendid results and industry recognition.
  • You work with highly sensitive data. A reputable TAaaS vendor will always take all the necessary precautions to ensure the security of the testing process and the integrity of the data used. However, when your AQA project involves large volumes of sensitive data, especially when it’s data that belongs to the users, following every rule to protect the information may turn out to be too much of a hassle.

How can TAaS benefit an organization?

2 - Test Automation as a Service

Automated software testing as a service brings a number of benefits to any organization dealing with software. Here are the biggest benefits of automation as a service and why you should consider it in the first place.

Higher-quality software developed faster

The first and biggest reason to invest in automation testing as a service is that it allows you to develop better software faster and with fewer internal resources used. You can avoid unnecessary spending on hiring an entire automation team, skip the lengthy hiring and onboarding period, and increase the scope of testing, all while having the quality of your software improve dramatically and the cost of fixing a bug noticeably drop.

Focus on core business

For most companies, automation testing is just a part of ensuring the spotless quality of their software products, not their core business. In that case, entrusting testing to an external team is a perfectly sensible decision that frees your mind and the minds of your team members. It allows them to focus on further developing and improving the product while being absolutely confident in the quality of the solution.

Long-term strategy

When your organization lacks the resources to test software in-house, there are different ways to fill those gaps. Some companies choose to work with freelancers or gig employees, and this strategy usually makes sense from a financial standpoint. However, continuous cooperation with a TAaS vendor allows you to build a long-term QA strategy and plan your project with meticulous attention to detail, and that may turn out to be more valuable than the ability to cut costs.

Easy scalability

Operating an internal AQA department usually means that you have to make the same team setup work no matter how the project needs may change. This is not the case with automated testing as a service, as this type of cooperation offers unprecedented scalability. You can increase the size of the team to handle a bigger load of tasks or scale it down during a slow period in a matter of days or even hours.

Complete visibility

One of the reasons why some organizations are wary of working with remote teams is that they worry about the level of visibility and oversight that is available to them. However, reputable TAaS vendors offer transparency as a core benefit of their services. You can get updates as often as you want and can always have the most complete idea of where your project currently stands and where it is projected to go.

Are there any downsides to Automation as a Service?

Automation as a service is a model that only continues to grow in popularity. However, that is not to say that it’s completely free of flaws, although the flaws usually stem from TAaaS not being the right fit for the project, not the testing engagement model itself. These are the main disadvantages of TAaS:

  • Higher project cost. While automation as a service is associated with cost savings compared to establishing an in-house automation department, it is still more expensive than outsourcing the project to an external vendor because TAaS has a broader scope of services included in the project budget.
  • Delayed project start is possible. With testing outsourcing, especially when using the dedicated team or time and material models, it is possible to launch a project in a matter of days. With TAaaS, more precise calculations and planning are required before the start of the project, which can increase preparation time.
  • Varying level of control. The nature of automation as a service, which offers turnkey solutions for organization, implies minimal control on the client’s side. The client will get regular updates and deliverables as stipulated in the contract, but it’s not very common for them to be involved in daily operations. With outsourcing, where clients often use a mix of in-house and external staff, there is a higher level of control available.

Types of testing Test Automation as a Service can handle


3 - Test Automation as a Service

Any testing expert will agree that the scope of potential uses of automation is vast. However, some types of testing activities are particularly well-suited for external AQA operations. Here are the types of testing that automation as a service is best equipped to handle.

GUI testing

User interface testing used to be mostly performed by manual testers and heavily relied on the human eye. However, software testing automation technology has come a long way, and now it’s not just possible to automate GUI testing, mimicking the way real users interact with software — it’s one of the commonly requested types of TAaS.

Functional testing

The functionality of a desktop, mobile, or web application is what attracts users in the first place, which is why comprehensive functional testing is a must. Modern automation software testing tools provide full coverage and help spot every defect, and it’s a typical component of any TAaS solution.

Unit testing

Unit testing deals with the smallest fragments of software to make sure they work flawlessly on their own and are ready to be integrated into the main solution. For software applications that are constantly growing and changing, automated unit testing is one of the few options to parallel test multiple units at once to speed up the releases.

Load and performance testing

Stable performance, even during unexpected events such as load spikes, is critical for a software solution’s spotless reputation. All-encompassing automated load and performance testing takes a lot of effort and resources when done in-house, whereas entrusting it to a TAaaS vendor gives you a clear idea of your app’s performance without affecting your day-to-day operations.

Security and compliance testing

Users won’t accept anything less than a secure, impenetrable application that protects their personal and financial information and is compliant with all applicable laws and regulations. Automated security testing allows the team to expand the number and complexity of test cases to ensure absolute security and all-around compliance.

Compatibility testing

Developing a functional application with a strong user appeal is not an easy feat, but the number and variety of possible platforms and their combinations can complicate things even further. Automating compatibility testing helps you test the smooth performance of your solution on every hardware and software combination, both on real and virtual devices.

Regression testing

Automated regression testing is crucial when the development team produces frequent code changes and there is a need to maintain the optimal quality of the application. TAaS vendors have a robust selection of tools and techniques to automate regression testing, allowing you to do more each sprint.

API testing

With thousands of APIs available in the software market, every product owner or developer has the opportunity to enhance the functionality and usability of the application. However, APIs also need to be rigorously tested, both on their own and as part of the bigger solution, and automated API testing can locate every bug before it has the chance to affect the overall performance of the app.

What to look for in a reliable TAaaS vendor

Test automation as a service is rapidly growing in popularity, and so is the number of vendors providing this type of service. However, just like with outsourced testing, the success of the project largely depends on the vendor and their work practices and quality standards. There are many components to a mutually satisfying TAaS cooperation, but here are the key features to consider when choosing among the available vendors:

  • Range of services. The first thing to check is whether your potential vendor actually offers the services that you’re seeking. For example, some TAaS vendors limit their range of services to just a few testing types, such as regression testing or compatibility testing, while others provide more all-encompassing services.
  • Proven track record. Even though automation as a service is a relatively new field, a typical TAaaS company has been providing regular automation services for years. This means it needs to have a significant number of automation projects completed and plenty of former clients who can attest to its quality of work.
  • Security standards. Software testing and automation projects often deal with sensitive data and intellectual property. This is why every employee on the vendor’s team must be aware of possible safety risks, a secure testing environment must be created, and there must be an NDA in place that specifies all security-related provisions.
  • Compliance standards. Closely connected to the aspect of security is the aspect of compliance. When developing software for a specific industry — such as healthcare or fintech — it is crucial that your automation testing partner is aware of all required compliance standards and knows how to incorporate them into the testing process.
  • Availability. At the end of the day, the main reason you are choosing automation as a service is probably to speed up the testing cycle and create a smooth cooperation with the in-house development and testing process. And that is very difficult to achieve if the vendor’s team is only available during your off-hours and the vendor is not ready for compromise regarding the team’s availability.

“A good TAaS vendor possesses a clear vision of how to approach a testing task, even if it is a very complicated product or service. Such vendors have organized internal processes of discovering a system to test, developing test documentation using their own templates, and starting a full-scale QA process without long preparations. Of course, flexibility is needed here as well. If a customer has their own QA process or detailed test documentation, it is crucial for a TAaS Vendor to be able to integrate it into the new process to avoid unnecessary activities or duplicates.”

Mykhailo Tomara, QA Lead, TestFort

Final thoughts: Is TAaS worth it?

With test automation as a service making strides on an increasingly larger scale, more and more organizations will start to consider adding TAaS to their software quality-related process. And, given the many benefits TAaaS brings, from speeding up the development and testing process to lowering the cost of fixing a bug, it’s easy to see why. Moreover, the flexible and scalable nature of TAaS makes it a perfect fit for most software testing projects. This is why, if your goal is to develop flaw-free software, it may be time to start thinking about automation testing as a service and how to make use of it in your organization.



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Written by
Inna M., Technical Writer

Inna is a content writer with close to 10 years of experience in creating content for various local and international companies. She is passionate about all things information technology and enjoys making complex concepts easy to understand regardless of the reader’s tech background. In her free time, Inna loves baking, knitting, and taking long walks.

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