April 12, 2023

What is Automation Testing? Best Practices and Techniques

Table of Contents

Key takeaway

With the increasing complexity of software applications and demands for shortened delivery timelines, testing is more critical than ever. In modern software development, where rapid iterations and continuous delivery (CD) are necessary, the ability to test often and efficiently is invaluable. Developers are creating and deploying new features and fixes on a regular basis so the business stays competitive and to quickly meet the needs of their users.

Automation testing is a valuable tool for modern development teams that need to ensure high-quality and reliable software in a fast-paced environment. By adopting test automation frameworks, engineers can not only achieve accurate, efficient, and scalable results, but also greatly improve developer experience by removing manual, repetitive tasks.

In this blog, we’ll explore the concept of automation testing and its benefits, as well as some best practices and common challenges. By the end, you will have a deeper understanding of what the test automation framework and how it can streamline your product development process.

How Does Automation Testing Work?

Manual testing used to be commonplace, and development teams were often stuck with a repetitive software testing process that took time away from product innovation. Automated testing is a software testing technique that leverages the use of software tools and applications, such as Harness, to validate the quality and performance of code before it’s deployed. This approach replaces repetitive, time-consuming manual testing with automated testing, optimizing the software delivery lifecycle (SDLC).

There are several different types of test automation. Some of the most common types of automated tests include:

  1. Functional testing – Validating compliance with requirements
  2. Regression testing – Ensuring that new code changes do not adversely affect existing functionality
  3. Performance testing – Assessing the application’s reliability, scalability, and responsiveness under load conditions
  4. Integration testing – Verifying the compatibility among different software components
  5. Graphical User Interface (GUI) testing – Evaluating the UI’s functionality, aesthetics, and usability
  6. Chaos engineering testing – the science behind intentionally injecting failure into systems to gauge resiliency

There are also a range of different continuous integration testing that is focused and executed during the CI process.

Automated testing is not a one-size-fits-all solution; it can and should be customized to meet unique business objectives and production goals. Selecting the appropriate mix depends on your development team’s unique needs, such as project requirements, time constraints, and resource availability.

The Benefits of Automated Testing

With automated testing, repetitive, manual testing is gone, replaced by automation for continuous testing and manual feedback to ensure overall stability and code quality. Development teams can then identify and rectify issues early in the process and improve collaboration. Overall developer experience improves as well, since they now have more time to focus on creating and implementing new features.

Some notable benefits of automation testing also include:

  • Increased accuracy and reduction of human error
  • Faster test execution, resulting in shortened development timelines
  • Improved test coverage and depth
  • Reusable test scripts for future iterations
  • Resource optimization (freeing up developers’ time to focus on code)
  • Better collaboration and integration with other development processes, such as agile and continuous delivery

To reap these benefits, you need a successful automation testing process. And, although test automation is a great fit for almost any development team, it isn’t a “one and done” tool that you can simply turn on and leave without further maintenance. Let’s look at some automation testing best practices in greater detail.

Getting Started With an Automation Testing Process

A successful implementation of automation testing requires careful planning and execution. To successfully implement this approach, here are some best practices:

  • Analyze and identify which test cases can be automated in your SDLC. Not all test cases need to be automated, and it’s best to start small.
  • Allocate sufficient time for execution and test data analysis.
  • Integrate your automation testing software with other development tools and processes in your development pipeline. This can include combining automation with manual testing where needed.
  • Plan for adequate test coverage, including both positive and negative test scenarios
  • Develop clear, maintainable, and reusable test scripts and documentation
  • Regularly maintain, update, and evaluate your test suite to ensure its continued effectiveness. This includes regular test script maintenance and optimization.

Your implementation process will vary depending on your organization's specific requirements, existing infrastructures, and the automation tools you adopt. In general, though, two key factors are necessary to ensure success: the quality of test scripts and planning and execution of the testing regimen.

Ensure Quality Test Scripts

The quality of the test scripts is a critical factor in the success of automation testing. Test scripts should be well-written, easy to maintain, and capable of handling a range of scenarios. They should also be designed to provide comprehensive coverage of the application under test.

Test scripts should be regularly reviewed and updated as the application evolves. This ensures that they remain relevant and effective in detecting defects and issues.

Plan and Execute the Testing Regimen

The planning and execution of the testing regimen are also vital to the success of automation testing. The process should be:

  • Designed to provide comprehensive coverage of the application under test, including all critical and non-critical features
  • Scalable and flexible, allowing for changes and updates as the application evolves
  • Executed regularly, with results analyzed and reported in a timely manner

Common Challenges of Automated Testing

Despite its numerous benefits, as with any new process or tool, automated testing implementation has its own challenges. Some common obstacles you may encounter include:

  1. Selection of the right tool or framework
  2. Initial investment in automation tools, including the resources needed to set up the infrastructure
  3. Training the development team on the new software and procedures
  4. Creation and maintenance of reusable test scripts
  5. Regular updating of the test suite

By incorporating the best practices discussed here, you can address these challenges upfront. The payoff for your development team is worth it, so you can reap substantial gains in productivity and quality assurance.

Start Automation Testing Today

Overall, automation testing is a critical aspect of software development that can significantly improve the accuracy and efficiency of the testing process. By employing the right test automation tools and techniques, software development teams can deliver high-quality software that meets the needs of users. 

At Harness, our end-to-end software delivery platform provides a simple, safe and secure way for engineering and DevOps teams to release applications into production.  Harness achieves this with industry first technologies like Test Intelligence™, Policy as Code, continuous verification and automated rollbacks. Our Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery modules streamline the SDLC by automating the build, test, and deployment of code changes, allowing for more frequent and reliable releases. 

Interested in learning more? Contact us for a free demo or get started for free today!

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