Manual testing has dominated software testing for decades. And for good reason, since it’s the simplest way to emulate the user experience before customers actually use the product. In some situations—like exploratory/ad-hoc testing or UX/usability testing—manual testing is actually the preferred method. But as software becomes more complex, an automated testing strategy is a time-saving, cost-effective alternative to manual testing methods.
So what are the specific benefits of test automation, and how should your company make the migration? How are other companies benefitting from adopting test automation? Let's take a closer look.
The Benefits of Automated Testing
Even if your organization has a finely tuned manual testing strategy executed by experienced testers, there are a number of potential benefits to automated testing, including:
Decreased Time On Routine Testing
Manual testing is exceptionally time-consuming; one person can only cover so much testing ground in any given time period. This makes manual testing difficult to scale, especially as software evolves. It also means that testers have limited time for learning new skills, an essential component of maintaining an adaptable software development organization.
Automated testing significantly speeds up the QA process, which means that development teams are able to deliver products more quickly without worrying about bugs slipping into production. As test automation tools have become more advanced, routine tasks like regression testing can be run independently with no need for constant manual intervention. Some organizations are even able to reduce the time spent testing by 80 percent. Testers are able to focus on tackling edge cases like new features and products, improving test coverage, and expanding end-to-end testing, thereby improving quality for the entire organization and growing their own skills.
Increased Test Coverage
A purely manual testing strategy inherently limits how many tests you can perform—and the tests that are performed are often highly dependent on the background and skill set of the particular tester. Because it’s tester-specific, it’s challenging to replicate the same set of tests every time.
Automated testing improves overall test coverage; your testers are able to focus their time writing in-depth tests, including those for edge cases. Additionally, unlike manual testing, automated testing can run multiple tests simultaneously, execute numerous tests on different configurations, and follow different parameters. This allows developers, product owners, and even customer success teams to participate in testing under the leadership of the quality team, which creates a culture of quality throughout the software development lifecycle.
Improved Staff Morale
Growth and learning opportunities have rapidly become a make-or-break factor in staff retention, especially for younger workers. Though manual testers build valuable knowledge as product historians and in-house experts on the customer experience, they often have limited time outside of manual testing. Having testers only focused on pure testing limits their ability to contribute to overall quality strategy and higher-level initiatives like DevOps and digital transformation. Underutilizing these valuable resources will stymie your quality engineering strategy and result in more turnover as testers seek growth elsewhere.
Migrating to automated testing enables your quality team to focus their energies on more critical, higher-value activities. By presenting your testers with more time for leadership roles, edge case testing, and learning, you’ll be improving morale and employee retention, as well as maximizing their potential.
Reduced Human Error
Any time you involve people in a process, you increase the chances of human error. When testing is a purely manual process, the opportunity for inadvertent mistakes increases greatly. In some cases, such as forgetting to clear your browser cookies before starting a new test, can actually add to a manual tester’s workload and further slow the development process.
Automated testing reduces the opportunities for errors to be introduced. And because all steps are automatically recorded, any issues that do arise can be identified and addressed immediately.
Adopting An Automated Testing Strategy
If your business is ready to explore automated testing, there are specific steps that ensure success:
Determine what can and should be automated
Automated testing can alleviate many of the tasks you currently accomplish manually, but it won’t completely erase the need for manual testing. In fact, manual testing and automated testing are often considered complementary skill sets by many QA professionals. Your first step in migrating to automated testing is to determine how both types of testing can be used to maximize the time and skills of your teams.
Find The Right Test Automation Framework
Once you understand what tests can be automated, your team can begin exploring automated testing tools that will support your goals. Some testing solutions favor code-heavy frameworks, while newer tools are completely codeless. Others, like mabl, have a low-code UI that enables users with varying levels of coding experience to create and run tests. The best solution for you depends on the skills of your team, what tests need to be automated, and your organization’s software development practices.
Identify Early Adopters
The most successful transitions from manual to automated testing are led by testers themselves. To set your team up for success, identify early adopters that can “test drive” test automation solutions and establish best practices as more people are ready to make the shift. This allows your software testing team to develop test automation strategies that work best for your product, your organization, and your quality goals.
Scale Your Automated Testing Strategy
After you ensure that all of your individual automated tests are running smoothly, expand your automated testing processes throughout every stage of your application development process. Ideally, your organization adopts a culture of quality that integrates testing early and often throughout the development pipeline so that bugs are caught faster and fixed with less effort.
Embrace Data-Driven Quality Engineering
Lastly, turn test results into metrics for improvement. As your application evolves, so do your testing needs—so remember to look for opportunities to automate your testing processes continually. With more routine tasks automated, software testers can turn their focus towards developing an adaptable, resilient quality engineering strategy that continuously improves in tune with your product and your organization. Building automation into your testing practice will not only enhance the speed and accuracy of your development process, but also enhance DevOps adoption. With manual testing and automating testing balanced across your organization, the entire team is better equipped to innovate quickly with full confidence in the quality of your product.
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