How to Improve RoI with Software Test Automation?Swathy Palakurthy
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Automation provides a lot of benefits virtually to all industries, and is defined as “the creation and application of technology to monitor and control the production and delivery of products and services.”
Here are some examples:
- Facility operations – includes security, environmental control, energy management, safety, and other building automation
- Manufacturing – includes food and pharmaceutical, chemical and petroleum, pulp and paper
- Transportation – includes automotive, aerospace, and rail
- Utilities – includes water and wastewater, oil and gas, electric power, and telecommunications
- And many others…
Automation crosses all functions in industry from installation, integration, and maintenance to design, procurement, and management. Automation even reaches into the marketing and sales functions of these industries. It involves a very broad range of technologies including robotics and expert systems, telemetry and communications, electro-optics, Cybersecurity, process measurement and control, sensors, wireless applications, systems integration, test measurement, and many, many more.
Automation drives growth and it follows manual testing. While there could be couple of Manual testing rounds done, Test automation entails the use of specific software to the check the execution of tests and compare the actual outcome alongside the predicted outcomes. The key and compelling aspect about Automation is that it mechanizes recurring, but mandatory tasks by implementing standardized testing processes/tools.
Thus, businesses must accelerate and automate the testing mechanism to ensure flawless product/application. The sheer purpose is to make it effective in terms of costs, time, and efforts. With rising demand and opportunities in the market, applications have to be developed within shrinking timelines and at the same time it is necessary to optimize the existing manpower.
Without automation professionals, our world and our future would be very different. Let’s think about the cell phones and computers that we use daily in our life to do our jobs; the car that we drive to work; the television, video games, or music systems. Think about any modern convenience or necessity – and you will realize that it is the result of complex processes.
Without talented individuals to design, build, improve, and maintain these processes, these technological advances would never have occurred and future innovations would be impossible. Automation professionals thus play a very vital role in for solving complex problems in many vital aspects of industry and its processes. The work of automation professionals is critically important to the preservation of the health, safety, and welfare of the public and to the sustainability and enhancement of our quality of life.
Software Test Automation
The main goal of Automation testing is to increase the test efficiency and develop software value. Automation testing helps in implementing SDLC in lesser time and provides efficiency and effectiveness to the testing software. Like Regression Testing, Automation Testing is also used to test the application from load, performance, and stress point of view.
In other words, using Automation Testing tools we can write and execute test cases, without manual involvement using automated test suite. Usually, testers write test scripts and test cases using the automation tool and then group into test suites.
With emerging methodologies such as Agile, Continuous Integration (CI), and Continuous Deployment (CD), Software Test Automation has become vital as most organizations desire faster deployments and reduced time to market.
Criteria & Key Candidates for Automation
There are a few key criteria that need to be fulfilled for automation to be adopted. A few of them are:
- The Build should be stable
- Repeatability must be high
- If, and when a product/project has more no of releases that require regression testing, then automation is useful.
- When there is a frequent release of build to production, automation may help in sanity/smoke
Note: In case the above criteria is not being fulfilled, or is not suitable, its recommended not to go for Automation testing.
For smaller applications, defining the correct scope for automation is important. For example, if a project is going to be completed by four months, working on an automation script that needs three months to complete, and you get to run it only once or twice won’t give you the benefits of automation.
Defining the scope is very important.
In the same project, you may want to run the functionality with ten thousand different data points to check if the behavior is same. At this point, automation becomes important as executing the same test case for so many variables manually is not feasible. Hence, defining and identifying the correct automation scope is very important.
Good Candidates for Automation
The best candidates for automation are applications which are in production for a long time and have less chances for changes in the already implemented functionality. Following is a list of few scenarios where automation is very important:
- Batch Processing
- Business Critical Paths
- Stable Application
- Same/Small work flows
- Multiple Configurations
- Application having large volumes of Data (filling large forms)
- Less changes/Reuse those same scripts written for earlier version to modified version of the same application
Bad Candidates for Automation
As they say, excess of anything is bad. Similarly, if we try to use automation in the following scenarios, the result will backfire:
- Frequent Changes to Application
- Single Use test cases
- UI-related Test cases
- Complex Workflows
How to Improve ROI with Software Automation?
It is a known fact that the initial costs for implementing automation are high. Automation is a strategic decision and an understanding of the potential ROI will help in making the decision to invest in automation. To achieve better ROI from automation, it is thus recommended to calculate your estimated ROI and understand the factors that will influence and enhance your investment and get the best out of automation.
A few critical factors that need to be weighed in are:
- Time to develop the scripts – possible only when the application is stable
- Time to analyse the results manually and automatically
- Purchasing and licensing cost of the tools
- Time and cost to train the resources
- Time to maintain the scripts
- Management overheads
The following image depicts the flow of how an organization can achieve desired ROI by investing in multiple attributes and variables that make up the automation process:
In the above image,
- Manual Testing Parameters cover effort spent on: Test Cases Authoring, Test Execution, Test Data, and Defect Management
- Transition Parameters cover effort spent on: Tool Evaluation & Selection, Scope definition for Automation, Feasibility Analysis, Skilled People, Training, Configuration setups, and Licenses cost
- Test Automation Parameters cover effort spent on: Framework Building, Scripts to be Automated, Script Execution, Test data generation
It is always good to understand and analyze the need for automation, analyze the product, and the existing test suite, identify the right test automation tool and then estimate the timeframe required to design and automate the entire testing. This exercise would benefit in finding your potential automation ROI before investing in it.
Is your organization considering a robust and well-defined Automation Testing strategy and would like to:
- Reduce efforts in developing test automation framework by over 80%
- Save more than 50% in test automation script development efforts, and
- Realize over 70% reduction in overall regression testing efforts – that eventually translate to improved RoI?
Cigniti’s team of experts have collaborated with small and big enterprises globally to enable them with a Test framework and an Automated Center of Excellence, which has resulted in faster time-to-market without compromising on the quality.
Swathy has 9+ years of industry experience in quality domain and Agile. She is a part of Process Management Group (PMG), and has expertise in Project Management, Process definition, Facilitation, and Audits. She believes in the philosophy of “Hardship often prepares an ordinary person for an extraordinary destiny!