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How to make automation tests more effective

As a QA Engineer you often need to do regression tests and you know this is a really waste of time since every time is the same test. Then, you keep in mind that you need to automate the regression tests in order to save time with the old things that could be broken with the introduction of the new features.

The development of the automation is usually done by the developers in test, people who has QA  and programming knowledge. One completes the other, so you know how to automate the right scenarios with the right prioritisation. Don’t spending time automating scenarios with no or small value or with wrong prioritisation for the regression pack.

You need to include the repetitive scenarios, the critical ones and the happy path but try to avoid the edge cases. Why ? Because edge cases are often scenarios with minimum or no value, where it is a specific flow that should be test once when developing the feature not every time when doing the regression. Regression pack ensures the happy path is working and the end user will be able to do what he needs to do. When you spend time implementing automated edge cases, you actually waste your valuable time implementing scenarios without real business value.

Although the product owners may be able to immediately suggest points to automate, it also depends on developers working on the detailed code. So, for this reason you need to have a good analyse before about the scenarios that should be implemented and if they will change very often.

Here some tips about how to create your automation tests more effectively:

 

Developing Automation

Automation code is quite similar to the development code, but it should be more simple and readable. Automation is not meant to be complex. The business rules should be implemented as part of the BDD scenarios, so the code is clean and doesn’t have anchors of complexity.

ROI (Return of Investment), you need to guarantee the value of the scenarios when automating them. For example, a scenario that tests the function of a feature is far more important and valuable than a scenario that tests if the buttons have the expected colour. Layouts are important, but you will spend more time implementing a scenario asserting the colour than opening the page and manually checking in milliseconds, also it is not a critical issue, the user will be able to finish the scenario despite the colour of the button. Measure the time before and after the automation is implemented, so you can have an idea of the time and effort saved.

Optimizing time

We have a common problem in the agile environment, when we rush to finish the sprint and forget quality. This is because we close the tickets, but we create a backlog of bugs every time and it keeps growing every sprint. These sprint backlogs make it difficult to devote time for the development, debugging and testing of each iteration.

For this reason it is really important to save a good amount of time for testing. To help saving time with the test, you can run the automation in parallel to the development, so any regression bug would be caught as soon as it is merged in a master branch. This gives more scope to the QA engineers to develop efficient tests through exploratory search.

Client Test Coverage

The ideas that come just after the brainstorming help testers to identify different scenarios and create a better test coverage for the feature. So you need to have this time to mature the idea of the feature and think about the flow and possibilities.

It is important to think more broadly when talking about test automation and not think only about the test cases. The planning and brainstorming can lead to breakthroughs that change the testing pattern altogether.

Regression Pack

When you implement the automated regression tests you need to keep well maintained with the development of the features. If not, your regression will be not up to date and you will not be able to trust on your automation anymore. Make sure your regression pack guarantee the functionality of the system and monitor the performance of the tests so as soon as you have some failure you can identify if it was a bug on the system or if is something you need to update with the current development code.

Regression tests should run smoothly and without human intervention. The only thing you need to worry is adding new features to the package.

Visibility

As I have described before, you need to keep it simple. This is the key to have a smooth automation. You need to be sure the stakeholders will understand what is being tested. Show the statistics of how long is taking to run the regression pack, how much time you are saving, the percentage of tests coverage vs time before and after automation, the overall quality improved.

Sharing this data will show a positive thinking about automation and how much you have improved automating the tests. This makes it simpler to frequently update test scripts, and guarantees collaborative effort through mutual cooperation.

Stay well aligned with Developers

It is essential to be aligned with the development work. Understand all the flow and how something they have changed could impact on another completely different, for example. This will help you to anticipate and be one step ahead when maintaining the scenarios. Also, it is good all the teams work with the same environment, using the most similar tools when it is possible.

Understand the functionality of the current environment, in order to successfully perform root-cause analysis that yields in constructive solutions. This will help you to find bugs more efficiently and build your automation focusing on your actual environment. Remember you need to align your needs with your project and the current development cycle. Companies/projects/teams are not equal and there is no formula, but some tips of how can you take the best for your situation.

 

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