Test Automation - What, When & Why.


In a world of digital technology and software project delivery quality, accuracy and speed are everything. One way to deliver these three key principles as part of your software delivery lifecycle (SDLC) is by investing and utilising automated testing as part of your test execution strategy in producing robust products and solutions for your end customers.

What is Automated Testing?
Automated testing is using software tools or coded scripts to control and predict the outcome or expected outcome of your test cases - in some cases the tools can also compare the outcomes and deliver comprehensive reporting

There are a number of programs that can be used to automate testing, these include (but not limited too) Selenium, Appium, Cucumber, Eggplant and RFT. These will all have different requirements, costs and ways of working. My personal belief is that codeless automation is the way to go as it is more inclusive and easier to pick up as a novice. Frequently they are designed with a very intuitive interface and a plethora of online libraries, tutorial videos and end-user communities. In my role at Sagittarius, my tool of choice is Katalon Studio.

Katalon Studio is a codeless automation tool that also offers a scripting mode to allow for more diverse tests when required. I’ve been leveraging the power of Katalon for over 3 years now and have always been impressed with its functionality, usability and ever-expanding feature list that allows me to test the complex digital web applications that we deliver for our customers.

When to Automate?
Automated testing can be done for even the most minor of tests as well as far larger and lengthy regression tests. It is important to get an automation strategy in place from the outset of a project so all team members are clear on expectations and related workloads - this includes the customer or client too!

I firmly believe that the best time to start automation is at the beginning of a project as soon as you have something tangible to test, no matter how small, start as you mean to go on! This is especially true in an agile environment where the iterative approach means baking-in an automation tool throughout. This also means that come the end of the sprint delivery your regression suite is pre-built and will just need refining with minor adjustments.

Why Automate?
The 4 major benefits of automated testing are:

  1. Automation significantly reduces the chance of human error. It is very easy during manual testing to become ‘click-happy’ and skip past possible defects. So long as the automated script is written correctly those errors are much less likely to be missed which significantly increases the accuracy of the QA process
  2. Using any automated software will always take time to initially configure and perfect for the initial test cases. However, once up and running, automation can make your speed of testing much faster - sometimes up to 6-7x faster meaning an hour's worth of QA work can be done in approximately 10 minutes. This is even more noticeable when you use a testing suite that will run the scripts in parallel and even greater efficiencies are realised when you have a base framework in place
  3. The quality of the automation is integral to the quality of the output. If you’re able to build high-quality automation scripts that can run time and time again this allows you to double up on testing. In turn, you’ll be able to do more explorative testing manually whilst the automation software runs the remaining test cases. This allows twice the output within the same time scale allowing for a significantly higher quality product being delivered
  4. Customer satisfaction and speed to market. This is a key consideration in a digital world that moves at a pace that most digital transformation programmes are unable to keep up with. Ensuring that you are frequently delivering improved experiences and features to your customers will help you stay ahead of competitors whilst keeping your customers excited by the rate of updates whilst not facing a reduction in the quality of the digital solution they are consuming. 

It’s key for us (and you!) to invest in the right skills and tools to truly provide incremental benefits to the software delivery process, and the rewards of high quality, rapidly and frequently tested products for clients goes without saying.

If you’re looking for an agency to start looking at your test automation and drive up the quality of the digital experiences you offer, simply get in touch today - we’ll love to talk more.

Aaron Ingram
Quality Assurance Engineer
Aaron has worked in testing and quality assurance for over 7 years, during that time Aaron has moved firstly into automated testing setting up regression packs, automated visual testing using AI based tools, more recently Aaron has moved into a QA lead role looking to help and progress the foundations of testing at Sagittarius with constant innovation of the testing functions and always looking for new tech to help us work as accurately and efficiently as possible..


Aaron Ingram

22 Oct 2020 - 10 minute read
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