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Tips to Improve Your Test Automation ROI


Shobhit Sethi

October 04, 2017

With new development methodologies such as DevOps and Agile, it has become increasingly clear that the speed of testing now has to match the speed of development. In order to achieve this, test automation has become an important building block for developing robust and error free applications and software products. Given the intolerance towards faulty or error-prone software products, organizations across the globe are looking at ways of making their automation initiatives stronger and deliver greater value.

According to the State of Quality study conducted by Wipro, there has been an increase of over 85% of test automation initiatives. Since automation testing initiatives are not inexpensive and the cost of bug detection rises incrementally when discovered later in the software development process, it is only fair that these organizations expect to improve the ROI of their test automation initiatives.

In this blog, we take a look at how this can be achieved.

Don’t aim for 100% automation – it’s a recipe for disaster

With great automation comes greater speed. However, when embarking on an automation initiative, organizations have to assess the degree of automation that they want to implement. Looking at 100% test automation can be a recipe for disaster as no matter how much we want it, test automation works within defined boundaries. There will be some aspects of testing that do not render themselves to automation well, such as exploratory testing, and pushing the envelope too far can be counter-productive.

Pro-Tip: The best way to get maximum benefit from test automation is to automate repeatable tests that are time-consuming and resource-intensive and can escalate testing costs.

Check your resource skillset – Manual testers are not completely irrelevant

Now that testing has been automated, you might feel that you do not require manual testers, right? Nothing could be further away from the truth! While test automation reduces the dependencies on manual testers and provides accurate test data for tests that are resource and time-intensive, manual testers continue to remain relevant and an important part of the testing teams. Manual testers have a comprehensive testing knowledge and domain expertise which can be leveraged to design the testing plan and execute automation initiatives. Since manual testers understand the nuances of testing and how a product or functionality should behave, they can help identify issues and defects at a contextual level.

Pro-Tip: Leverage the domain expertise of your manual testers in the design of the testing plan.

Pay attention to test design

A robust test design contributes immensely in improving the ROI of test automation. Once the testing team decides what to automate, they have to take a stock of all the functional and non-functional needs of the software under production to ensure comprehensive test coverage. Test design has to take into consideration the amount of code coverage and the effort required to test the same. Good test design ensures maximum code coverage with the minimal number of tests in the shortest timeframe.

Pro-Tip: Don’t jump straight to automation. Create comprehensive create the test cases and scenarios before starting the test automation.

Ensure good quality test data

Data is the ultimate leveler in today’s world, and testing is no different. Good quality of test data is critical to ensure the quality of the software in production. Quality test data consists of data size and comprehensive information and components that are relevant to the testing of an application. Since new development methodologies demand faster and more iterative release cycles, access to quality test data becomes even more essential. Inadequately designed test data does not allow testing teams to comprehensively cover all possible testing scenarios due to the absence of desired test inputs. This impacts the quality of the software under test and consequently impacts the ROI of the test automation initiatives negatively.

Pro-Tip: Create your test data before starting the test case execution. Try to use automation tools for creating the test data.

Put the right focus on testing infrastructure

Using the right tools, technologies, frameworks, test techniques etc. go a long way in improving the ROI of test automation. Utilizing tools and technologies that have a steep learning curve or high license costs will automatically impede testing initiatives and consequently have a negative impact on the ROI. However, using testing frameworks, testing tools, and technologies that are standardized, do not demand too much of a time investment and do not have a steep learning curve can help the testing teamwork at an accelerated pace, get test cases and test automation setup and running faster and contribute positively to the ROI. Additionally, it also makes sense to take a look at the test servers, computing infrastructure, middleware components, test automation licensing costs to ensure that they deliver on increasing efficiencies at the best cost.

Pro-Tip: Do consider the licensing costs of the test automation tools. With Open Source tools, don’t forget to add the cost of customization while calculating your overall investment.

Test maintainability

The ROI of test automation initiatives can also be increased by taking into account product evolution. Given the need for frequent product iterations and upgrades, having a test automation machinery that has reusable test cases and test plans, smaller and independent test cases instead of a monolithic testing architecture, building test suites that enable change, identifying the maintenance needs of the testing suite, utilizing test data to assess which test cases can be used in other environments etc. are a few things that help in test maintainability which also helps in keeping the test automation suite relevant for longer.

Pro-Tip: Build your test automation suite for scalability – the life of the test automation suit should be same as the life of your product.

Clearly, in order to improve the ROI of test automation, it becomes essential to utilize all the QA and testing assets optimally. Keeping in mind that the true value of automation lies not in the volume of tests being automated. You need to focus on the results of the tests, assessing when to automate and how much to automate, and leveraging the right tools and technologies that reduce the time to automate. Having the right set of resources to enable test automation initiatives and having a well thought out and comprehensive test strategy are some of the other factors that help organizations achieve high levels of automation and positively impact the ROI of test automation.

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