Test Automation Problems Plaguing QA Teams
- May 6, 2021
- Ramish Hassan
Even after nearly three years of its mainstream adoption, test automation remains one of the most popular trends in software testing. It is the one surefire way for any business to achieve true Agile approaches and CI/CD methodologies but despite its obvious prowess, it’s an aspect that many companies still struggle with. Some of the most qualified QA technicians can also stumble upon many problems when implementing and working with test automation. Today, we’ll be discussing some of these problems, what causes them, and how you can solve them.
Most Common Test Automation Problems Today
What are some of the most common problems that are plaguing modern QA teams in test automation?
- Unrealistic expectations for automated testing
- Utilizing the wrong tools
- Automating useless tests and ignoring important test cases
- Selecting the wrong testing time
- Lack of proper testing
Let’s look at this one by one and understand what goes on behind the scenes for these problems to exist in the first place.
1. Unrealistic Expectations for Automated Testing
Most QA and testing companies are well versed in the benefits of test automation. Some of the more notable benefits include the saving of time, resources, and efforts. So the natural conclusion one can draw is that if test automation is a bandaid to help with the efficiency of your test, shouldn’t you automate as many processes as you can? Not at all. Unrealistic expectations such as these can falter the entire test process and you risk having too many test cases at once.
Here’s why you shouldn’t rely on automated testing on its own:
Manual testing is still relevant. In some cases, manual testing serves better than automated testing. Like for instance:
- UI and usability testing
- Quick compatibility testing on a single or handful of devices.
- One-time testing
- Ad-hoc testing
- Localization and internationalization testing.
Non-automated aspects of testing still exist. Automated test scripts require people who support them. You’ll still have non-automated pieces of work remaining even if you’re persistent in automating your testing as much as possible.
Solution: A clear and concise testing strategy.
The primary cause for unrealistic expectations for automated testing is almost always a lack of clarity in your testing strategy. Asking yourself these questions can help you better understand your test automation requirements:
- Why do you or your team/project/company require test automation?
- What are your test automation goals?
Having these answered, you’re on your way to plan a clear test strategy. The reason why this might be the most important aspect is that this is what guides your testing process from start to finish. And don’t forget to keep updating it from time to time.
2. Utilising the Wrong Tools
Without the right tools to help you, test automation simply won’t be as effective as you’d like. And it’s easy to end up confused about selecting the right one simply due to the plethora of options available in the market today. This can cause scalability problems and put the completion of your test automation goals at risk.
Solution: Select your tools properly.
Solving this issue means you’ll need to be aware of your exact needs. You’d ideally want to set the goals and requirements you’re aiming to achieve with the tool before selecting it. These qualifying questions can help narrow down the selection:
- Does this tool meet your current goals?
- How affordable is this tool?
- How well does it support integration with the technology stack your team uses?
- What are your requirements criteria for the tool?
It can take time to select the best candidate for this purpose but understand that that’s normal. If for instance, you’re requiring a purpose-built and reliable mobile UI testing tool, Kualitee might be a good place to look. Pen testing companies, short for penetration testing companies, like Kualitatem, can also be great alternatives if you’re looking for load testing tools.
3. Automating Useless Tests and Ignoring Important Test Cases
Unfortunately, when it involves automation, QA teams often begin by randomly automating test cases. This leaves them with low test coverage and a lot of useless tests. Moreover, with this approach, you also run the risk of not covering the important scenarios and leaving gaps in software quality.
Solution: Determine what’s worth automating.
Before writing test scripts, researching is mandatory. Try and determine beforehand what’s worth automating and then start implementing automation where it’ll have the foremost impact. Select a correct testing approach, mind your test metrics and reports.
Take a glance at Mike Cohn’s test automation pyramid for reference. It’ll assist you to understand where automation is most beneficial. Consistent with the pyramid, it’s better to start out with unit tests: they’re easy, cheap, and fast to finish. Then transition to API, integration, and component testing. Lastly, automate UI tests and make just a few of them.
Another approach would be to estimate the potential risks and then proceed with automated testing accordingly. Define the foremost vulnerable spots within the system and begin with testing there. Pick those where failures would be the foremost devastating to your business.
4. Selecting the Wrong Testing Time
Today, most teams still see testing as something that happens after development. Only once the entire build is prepared is when QA technicians start doing their job. This outdated approach can’t guarantee the top quality of software. It doesn’t allow QAs to check all the layers properly and it doesn’t leave much time for testing.
Solution: Run automated tests in conjunction with the development process.
Testing shouldn’t happen only within the final stages. If you would like test automation to be effective, begin by running tests from the first stages of the development and still do so through the software development life cycle (SDLC). It’s also important to remember that testing is an important part of the continuous delivery pipeline. Without test automation, you can’t have successful CI/CD implementation.
5. Lack of Proper Testing
Among the test automation problems, this is often one is that the trickiest. The shortage of proper testing occurs when QA technicians believe in automation an excessive amount and specialize in tests passing instead of discovering bugs. The thing is, automation gives a false sense of security. With automated tests running repeatedly, it’s tempting to scale back human intervention and responsibility for the results. Such an approach can have disastrous outcomes like poor test design, inconsistent and ineffective testing.
Solution: QA team training.
Before implementing automation, train your team properly. Confirm that they know their roles within the process and have enough technical skills to support the tests. Also, enforce test automation with exploratory testing to realize more precise results.
While many businesses see test automation as the one-stop fix for almost all their problems, it’s important to remember that it isn’t always easy. Starting off the process with unrealistic expectations in mind can effectively dismantle the whole process. Fortunately, all of these test automation problems are solvable. What’s perhaps most important is to know that automating tests can’t be the only solution for most, if not all, of your problems. Understanding the requirements, where it can be effective, and running it in parallel with development after selecting the right testing tool can all have you maximize your testing efforts while meeting your business goals.