Nowadays there are still IT projects where automation testing is falsely considered to be a process that doesn’t add much value to software development. It’s often deemed to consume too much time or resources. But, as Katalon’s 2023 State of Software Quality report shows, it’s the businesses who haven’t applied test automation yet that usually hold this view – 59% of respondents who didn’t implement automated testing thought it would either result in no savings or a negative return on investment (ROI). However, 87% of quality assurance (QA) professionals who had been using automation testing for over five years expected 20% of cost savings or more.
The key to getting the most value out of test automation is to apply it strategically and be aware of what you can really gain from it. Read on to learn why you should consider using automated testing and when it’s worth implementing it in your project.
The benefits of test automation
Though automation testing may require time and effort at first, in the long run it can speed software delivery and save resources. According to the 2023 State of Software Quality report, QA teams usually automate regression (72%), functional (58%), integration/system (46%) and API testing (46%). Wide adoption of test automation empowers manual testers to work on more value-added tasks and further develop their skills instead of running routine – yet necessary – tests. But that’s just a small portion of the advantages you can get from automating tests in your software project.
Cost savings and efficiency
Test automation enables QA teams to regularly run quick tests to ensure that the code meets quality standards and that apps function correctly. Changes implemented in one module may negatively affect other functionalities of a solution (e.g., disrupt the user interface or cause a feature malfunction). Routine automated tests help testers easily identify these problems.
In the long run, automation facilitates refactoring and further app development, as teams can make sure updates don’t generate bugs in existing code. At the same time, automated tests are faster and don’t require as much time and effort as manual testing. The same scenarios can be automatically verified over and over again. Without automation, manual testers would have to go through each test case from the beginning, which often isn’t feasible.
Additionally, test automation, especially when applied to the initial stages of a software project, is a good method for quickly detecting and fixing bugs early on. This results in shorter delivery cycles and faster deployments. In turn, this leads to faster time to market, reduced development costs and improved efficiency of a project.
Budget and time constraints mean that manual testers have limited time to run tests and have to prioritize test cases (e.g., by deciding to focus on new features). Test automation enables a QA team to verify more test cases and increase test coverage. Additionally, when you correctly automate regression tests, it frees up manual testers to work on other key tasks during routine processes – they don’t have to manually repeat tests each time when, for example, a new version of an app goes to production because the tests run automatically. Automated testing also limits the risk of human error and enhances test accuracy. With automation, you can be certain that every step of a test scenario will be fully and correctly completed in compliance with business requirements and product documentation.
High quality across all development stages
Test automation gives you more control over a solution. Automated tests can be launched on a regular basis (e.g., every hour) or after each change in code. You can choose different configurations, depending on your needs, related to solution architecture and DevOps practices. For instance, if you’re working on a banking or healthcare app, which needs to constantly perform well to deliver key services, bugs or any other issues are unacceptable and could even lead to reputational and financial damage. Automation testing ensures high quality of software throughout its entire life cycle without engaging manual testers and helps avoid problems in production environments that would impact end users’ experience.
Test automation tools immediately generate reports after tests. Some of them even offer integrations with popular collaboration platforms so that your team can get instantly notified about detected bugs in a dedicated communication channel. This way you can quickly react to issues, which is particularly useful when working on projects with tight deadlines.
The automated reports, usually very detailed and easy to read, increase testing visibility. They enable testers to swiftly spot which step of a user journey contained an error, analyze the problem and come up with a solution.
Improved user experience and security
Test data takes a lot of time to manually create and verify. Because of that, some testers may opt to use old data to save resources. However, that’s not the best practice as it can lead to the pesticide paradox – when you run the same tests over and over again using the same data, you’ll likely stop detecting new bugs at some point. One advantage of automation testing is that it constantly works on new and relevant data (e.g., by creating a new user for each tested user journey) and verifies different scenarios from start to finish. Consequently, it thoroughly checks if a feature works as intended and ensures better user experience.
Automated testing also helps developers avoid accidentally deploying bugs to a production environment. If someone introduces the wrong code to a higher-level environment, methodically launched automated tests will detect it and alert testers about any issues. This again empowers the team to swiftly deal with a potentially risky situation.
When does automated testing not add enough value to the project?
While test automation speeds up software delivery and ensures high product quality, in some cases it’s not the best approach for a solution. Because of different factors like project budget, timeline or scope, the potential added value of automated testing may not offset the time, effort and costs required to implement and maintain it. Here are some examples of software development projects where automated testing may prove less useful.
The product isn’t going to be further developed. For projects like Proofs of Concept (PoC) and small apps with limited functions, planning and writing automated tests, along with setting up the necessary architecture, can take longer than manual testing. If you don’t plan to add or expand a product’s functionalities, it’s very likely that test automation will turn out unviable for your project.
You need to deliver a product in an extremely short time. If you’re working to a tight deadline, you probably won’t have enough time to design automated tests. In that case, it’s better to stick to manually testing high-priority scenarios.
You’re using exploratory testing. Since they do not support automation, exploratory tests are less structured and enable QA testers to freely explore an app’s functionalities without following a user story step by step. In this approach it’s more important to be creative and draw from your experience from past projects to intuitively look for potential bugs. Exploratory testing helps discover defects that may go undetected when running other types of tests and can serve as foundation for more rigid automated testing.
Your project involves implementing frequent changes and releases in a short period of time. Solutions that need a lot of deployments (e.g., every few days) make it difficult to create and update automated tests because there’s not enough time left to complete these tasks before the next release. The effort needed to maintain automated testing in this situation may not be sustainable in the long run. However, if you still want to implement automation in this kind of a project, it’s a good idea to consult this decision with a product owner and your development team. They’ll help you identify which tests would add the most value to a solution, when automated.
Finding the balance between automated and manual testing
Automated testing shortens time to market, ensures high quality and helps deliver rewarding user experience. However, test automation can’t cover all test cases – some tasks require creativity and intuition that simply can’t be automated. That’s why software development projects need a combination of manual and automated testing for optimal product quality and test coverage.
To fully take advantage of quality assurance, you need to understand when automated testing will add the most value to your project – and when it’s better to rely on manual testers. Before you create tests, analyze the risks and benefits and account for the project timeline to select and prioritize the right test cases. Managing your time and resources, as well as setting realistic goals and deadlines, are key to approaching software testing in a reasonable and effective way.
To stand out in competitive markets, businesses need to make sure that their solutions are well-tested, perform reliably and enable swift scalability. That’s why many organizations partner up with software development companies like Software Mind to access experienced QA talent and get comprehensive testing support for their solutions. Contact us via the form and find out how our dedicated cross-functional teams can accelerate your digital transformation, integrate test platforms and deliver innovative solutions.
About the authorKarolina Blok
Test Automation Engineer
A Test Automation Engineer with 6 years’ experience in the IT industry, Karolina has tested web and mobile applications that implement the latest technologies, like the Internet of Things and AI. Having worked with clients from a range of sectors, from financial services through gaming to fleet management, she has diverse expertise in designing and conducting both manual and automated tests to ensure the highest software quality. As Karolina focuses on driving efficiency and prioritizing value-added testing in her projects, her professional interests revolve around further developing her test automation skills, exploring different frameworks and implementing cloud-based solutions.