QA Automation: keys to keep in mind and advantages for your project
QA is the acronym for Quality Assurance, the process that guarantees quality in digital products. While Testing tests the product during the development process with the purpose of finding bugs, QA is in charge of the project’s quality in all of its phases (Humsoft, 2021). QA automation is a quality process in which a collaborator or a work team generates and executes different test cases by way of a tool, to validate the expected functioning of an application in an automatic way. The developed tool or script generates a report with the findings. If there is an error or there is something unexpected, this is reported to then make a deeper analysis. The main difference with manual testing is who is performing the application’s validations, in QA automation this is done by the tool or the developed automatic script and in manual testing it is done by a human being. In addition to this, the execution of automated tests requires the minimum attention from a human being, while manual testing requires full attention from the person so that any bug or application’s inconsistency is overseen. QA automation means implementing automated testing resources to run tests on the software that is being developed, analyze the results and report any unexpected behavior found. It takes care of the many time-consuming tasks that were carried out by manual testing (Whyman, N.D). Through the process of QA Automation, the professional in charge guarantees an agile and quick work with the most possible quality in the processes, teams, and in the final result, since tests are optimized and constant improvements are made. Even though the team can lean on QA Automation tools, it is important that a professional is continuously monitoring (Humsoft, 2021).
When applying QA Automation, it is important to consider the development life-cycle phase in which the project that we want to automate is, the type of project, and if the project is short, medium or long-term. Additionally, it should be known that the initial cost to start with a test automation project is high, and that the return on investment is going to be seen in the long term. It may happen on occasions that the cost-benefit equation is not favorable and therefore, it is not convenient to automate at that particular moment. What is more, it is crucial to choose an automation tool that can meet the requirements of the project at the moment and that can be scalable in the future when it may get a bit more complex.
QA automation offers many advantages for the clients. “Doing Automation Testing and applying it correctly means being able to reduce between 60% and 70% of manual testing as well as executing tests more frequently with more data combinatorics. In a few words, it allows us to reduce the necessary time to go to production”, explains Matías Panusópulos, QA Automation Engineer at Onetree. This is the most important advantage, a lot of time is saved, which translates into saving money. As well as this one, execution speed is much faster than in manual testing, bugs are detected earlier. The ability to validate multiple scenarios with different data, which would take a long time for someone to do manually. Another advantage, which is crucial, is that there is a lot of reliability at the moment of validation. If one orders the tool or the script to validate a certain point, it will do it without any mistake, if something fails it is because there is something different in the application that the human eye did not see when doing the tests.
QA automation is used when multiple tests have to be applied to an application, when different tests have to be executed in diverse environments, and when there is a stable application. The app’s stability is of high importance, the fact that it does not present frequent changes, at least in the module that it will be automatized, because if it is continuously changing, the code does not have the intelligence to detect when it has changed to work differently. This takes time because the Automation team has to select the right tool, the language used to develop the scripts, the framework, the process, and other aspects. All in all, there are three elements the team needs to do QA automation: time, technical capacity, and a stable environment.
There are different types of testing that we can automate, generally the testing types are divided in two groups, Functional and Non Functional Tests. Some of them, including the ones we use the most and the ones we will explain in this article. Functional Testing includes: Black Box testing, Unit testing, Integration testing, Smoke testing, Regression testing. The first group evaluates the software against the set functional requirements, it focuses on what the application does and mainly involves black box testing, which is also named behavioral testing and it involves testing functionality of elements, without delving into its inner workings. In these cases, the tester is completely unaware of the structure or design of the item being tested. Functional testing is primarily in charge of testing the system’s main functions, its basic usability and its accessibility to users, among other tasks. Another type is Unit testing, that involves running tests on individual components or functions in isolation to verify that they are working as required. It is usually done in the development phase of the application and is often the first type of automated testing done in an application. It is extremely beneficial because it helps to detect bugs early in the development stage, keeping the cost of fixing them as low as possible. What is more, unit tests are a good way of helping developers understand the functionality of each unit in the application and facilitate the reusability of code as well. However, they will not always identify every single bug in the application and their relevance is limited to smaller units. Another type of testing that we can automate is Integration testing, this involves testing all the different units of the application in unity. It focuses on evaluating if the system as a whole complies with the functional requirements set for it. Integration testing works by studying how the different modules interact with each other when brought together. It typically follows Unit testing and helps ensure seamless interaction between the various functions to make a smooth functioning software as a whole easier.
Moreover, Smoke testing, which is also called “Build Verification Testing” or “Confidence Testing”, comprises a minimal set of tests that are designed to evaluate the stability and viability of the deployed build of the software. It focuses on checking if the major aspects of the application are functional or not and it is used to verify whether the application should be shelved due to lack of functionality or continued to the other stages of testing. Regression testing involves re-running of functional and non-functional tests to see if the software is behaving correctly after adding a new feature or introducing a code change. If the performance is not the same, then the software is said to have regressed. The main purpose of regression testing is to ensure that the existing functionalities have not been adversely affected in any way by code changes made (Prolifics, N/D).
The second group, Non Functional Testing, is defined as a type of Software testing to check non-functional aspects such as performance, usability, reliability, etc of a software application. It is designed to test the readiness of a system as per nonfunctional parameters which are never addressed by functional testing. For example a test would be to check how many people can simultaneously login into a software. This type of testing is equally important as functional testing and affects client satisfaction.
One of the most used testing software methods to execute the automated test is Data-driven testing, it requires the use of external data to extend automated test cases. Data is usually stored separately in a spreadsheet format or a table and is fed into the test cases. It is effective since testers often have multiple sets of data when testing and having to develop a new test for each set of data is time-consuming and a waste of resources. Understanding the applicability and limitations of the various automated testing types helps the team plan their test automation strategy more effectively. It is key to take into consideration that there is no single universally superior testing type. To truly benefit from test automation one needs to use several testing types in coordination with one another (Prolifics, N/D).
Having a QA automation team is really important nowadays. “It is essential to detect the project ‘s needs and select the adequate tools for them so that they can escalate as the project grows” says Matías Panusópulos, QA Automation Engineer in our team. Applications grow rapidly and exponentially, so the workload for the manual testing team may be too much. It should be taken into consideration that time needs to be made available. Delivering something fast to the client requires skipping many processes that are relevant: analysis, selecting the right tool, determining the scope of test automation, setting up the test environment, defining the way we are going to develop our tests, among others. If these stages are not adequately carried out, results may be immediate but inconveniences will be seen in the long term, such as needing constant maintenance which prevents the team from advancing in new tasks. Therefore, dedicating the required time, above all in the first stages, is vital. “Good results take time and need to be well planified, this is highly important from my point of view”, explains Pablo Slaj, QA Automation Engineering.
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¿Qué es QA Automation? – Blog Humsoft. (2021). Humsoft. https://hum-soft.com/blog/que-es-qa-automation/
Whyman, A. (n.d.). What is automated QA testing? Global App Testing. https://www.globalapptesting.com/blog/automated-qa-testing