Making automation better

Posted on May 19, 2020

The question

The first automated test is eventually written. The script opens a product’s page, makes a few clicks, and do some assertions. It looks easy to write. It looks like “magic”!

But the main question is how to make it further: how to move from one automated test to a scalable automation solution, which provides value and is reliable, usable, and fast?

Here are a few things which I might say to myself in a past which can make automation efforts better.

Determine goals and expectations

Project Structure

Gather all visions and requirements about automation from all stakeholders: management, developers, fellow testers, and other people involved in your product.

  • Why do they want to introduce automation? It is only a “hype” or a well-established plan of transformation?
  • What do they want to optimize? What do they want to save (time, money)?
  • How do they see the usage of automated tests on a daily basis?

Tip: Test automation is not a “write once, execute forever” solution. Maintenance should be taken into account as well.

Research technology stack and architecture of the product

Project Structure

Learn about product architecture - it will help to plan which automated tests bring more value.

If you are the first person to start with automation - choose the stack which is close to your developers: they can help you in the future.

Try few tools from the market: from codeless solutions to automation libraries and compare the pros and cons. Keep in mind the goals during comparison: the tool may be helpful at the start - but it will be hard to maintain a number of tests will grow.

Tip: stable and fast integration or API tests can bring more value than thousands of flaky UI tests.

Get necessary skills

Project Structure

Learn programming language fundamentals and go through a few automation-related courses.
Do not hesitate to ask for help and advice in testing communities - we all start from the beginning.
Ask fellow developers for mentorship and code reviews. They can also teach your local coding standards and approaches.

Tip: Consider comments in a code review as points for improvement.

Move small

Project Structure

Start with a small smoke suite of the most critical cases. Make them stable and usable.
Automate 100% of tests that can be automated, no more.
The best way to think about testing as a mix of automated and manual exploratory testing.

Tip: Five cases, which are executed on each developer’s code change is a way better than a hundred of failed tests that are executed from time to time.

Always show value and visibility

Project Structure

Execute automated tests from day one. Integrate it into the development process. Continuously show the value from automated tests: how much time do they save, how stable or fast are they, what is the automated test coverage?

Tip: Think outside of tests - where automation can help and speed up the delivery. It can be the scripts for preparing test environments, generating test data, setting up complex preconditions.

Engage the community of users

Project Structure

If you already show value and visibility of automated tests - try to find users and supporters within your team and other engineers. Their feedbacks are the point for improvements.

Tip: Automation does not live in a vacuum. Do not use it alone - make other people use it and get benefits from it.

As a conclusion

Be ready to maintain and fix the tests in a continuous manner.
Be ready to resolve complex errors especially in a distributed environment (e.g.during parallel test runs).
Be ready to optimize test code in terms of complexity, readability, and speed.
Be ready for software engineering in automation.

And of course - be ready to help the team to test the product faster and reliable.