Software Test Automation

Software Test Automation

It’s not humanly possible to identify and verify all possible scenarios in a software application. The goal of a tester is to find maximum defects spending minimum time. Test Engineers employ various techniques to detect defects early in the process but many still slip through resulting in budget overruns and unhappy customers among other things.

Software Test Automation offers following key advantages:
  • More test coverage
  • Improved quality
  • Reduced time to market

Software Test Automation Challenges

Software Test Automation, while a necessity, is a challenging task. Enterprises are confronted with various tasks starting from automation tool selection and resource recruitment to the effective utilization and continuous maintenance of automation assets.

Some of the key challenges include:
  • Significant upfront investment and high maintenance cost
  • Manual test engineers find automation hard
  • Most automation tools require programming skills
  • Developers like to build products not automate scripts
  • Takes long time to implement overall automation strategy
  • Very expensive to maintain automation scripts
  • For dynamic applications as much as 50% of the time goes in maintenance alone
  • Constraints of automation tool itself can be limiting
  • Having the right test automation solution is the first step towards crafting and executing a winning test automation strategy.

Functional Testing

Software test teams use functional testing processes to validate whether or not the application under test conforms to its specifications. The specifications may involve how the application must behave in response to certain user actions, environment changes, data changes, and load changes etc. Functional testing focuses on the specifications around user actions and/or data changes.

The Functional Testing process typically involves the following steps:
  • Identifying the testable functions of the application under test
  • Determining the optimal test input and expected output for each function
  • Preparing test cases with detailed test steps having specific test input and expected output
  • Executing the test cases
  • Comparing the actual test output against the expected output
  • Flagging the test as pass or fail depending upon the outcome of result comparison
  • Tracking any failures in a defect tracking system
  • Sharing test results as reports with all stakeholders

As software changes are introduced, test teams have an added task of validating that what was working as per the specifications prior to the change continues to work so after the change.

Functional Testing Challenges

The biggest challenge of functional testing is that it’s just not possible to exercise all possible scenarios in the limited time frame, that QA teams generally get, given various permutations and combinations of user actions and inputs.
Test teams are often challenged to somehow come up with an optimal test strategy that provides sufficient coverage for a risk free release. Even if the testing organization creates a test strategy for optimal coverage, putting it in action is usually another challenge. The teams should ideally repeat some of the tests build after build, sprint after sprint to ensure what was working before is still intact. It’s not possible, without incurring heavy cost on resourcing, to do this repeat testing. Deferring the test to a final regression is also not an option as that would mean catching any issues too late in the cycle and thereby risking the release timelines.

At a high level, functional testing poses following challenges:
  • Test Case Creation
  • Testing Strategy for Optimal Coverage
  • Test Case Execution & Tracking Results

Test Case Creation
In order to create smart Test Cases, tester must know the requirement specifications, the implicit end user expectations and common issues.

Test Case Execution
Once the functional tests are created, executing them once is not difficult but repeatedly executing them for every build, sprint, and regression cycle is simply not the best use of a test engineer’s time.

Businesses can speed up software delivery significantly by automating functional testing.