Challenges in Test Automation and How To Combat Them

Nov 2, 2022 | Best Practices, Test Automation Insights, Uncategorized

5 Test Automation Challenges and Their Solutions

Inadequate funding, strategies, and tools can all be challenges in test automation, with other hurdles cropping up too. We’ll show you how to clear them. 

Research has shown that 35% of companies find manual software testing to be the most time-consuming part of the software development life cycle. This should come as no surprise, considering that computers can perform repetitive tasks much faster than humans, so anytime companies can automate their software tests, they’re going to shorten the distance from product inception to launch. 

From reduced tester fatigue (and therefore greater productivity) to a better product that yields higher ROI, building a seamless test automation framework can add multiple benefits to your company, product, and team — the problem is how to get there. Structuring your operational costs, developing a clear strategy, and defining the scope and structure of your testing process are a few of the most common challenges in test automation, and while others exist as well, you can overcome them all if you know how and what to plan for. Once you do, you may find that the improvements in your software development process will bear fruit sooner than you expect. 

Key Challenges You Can Expect From Automated Testing

The exact obstacles that will arise to your test automation processes will vary, but there are a few that seem to strike organizations more often than others. If you know where these pitfalls lie, you’ll be able to steer clear of them as you build out your testing infrastructure, and an experienced test automation service should help you work through them early on. 

1. Operational Costs

Cost is always a determining factor when organizations refine their processes, and QA test automation is no different. Switching to test automation can result in significant savings, but it will still come with some costs of its own. Operating costs like subscription fees for test automation services, software costs, maintenance costs, and even some hidden costs specific to the application may make test automation more expensive than manual testing or may limit your automation efforts to the tests that yield the most savings. 

Instead of assuming that adopting a test automation framework will save your company money, you should know which expenses come with your new process and which tests are costing you the most. That way, you’ll know just how much your test automation service is saving you and if the investment is worth making at all. 

2. Lack of a Clearly Defined Testing Strategy

Failing to plan is planning to fail, and the inability to form a clear implementation strategy is one of the most destructive challenges in test automation today. By not thinking through their testing goals and how to reach them, many businesses sabotage their own automation efforts. To avoid this pitfall, ask yourself these test automation questions:

  • Will this test be repeated? It’s an obvious question, but as Jon Reynolds pointed out on our podcast on automation best practices, it’s often the best place to start. A test that only needs to run once doesn’t require repeated execution, so there’s probably no need to automate it. Select your test automation with repeatability in mind. 
  • When will the test be run? Some tests can be run concurrently with others, while some must be run subsequently. Automating subsequent tests delivers less benefit than concurrent ones because they are still dependent on the tests that are run upstream. When possible, automate parallel tests.
  • What’s the highest priority? Some parts of your code may be more essential to the overall quality and stability of your product than others, and some may be more prone to failure. Check your past analytics reports to find where the failures most often occur, and prioritize the most complex and critical portions of your code. 

Another question that some companies may wish to ask themselves is whether their automation tool matches the test they need to perform. You wouldn’t use API testing tools to perform GUI testing, and UI test automation wouldn’t be a good fit for running unit tests. Consider the type of testing you need to perform before selecting your automation tools — and if you’re in the middle of transitioning to a new toolset, it may be best to wait on automation until the switch is complete. 

3. Testing Coverage

100% testing coverage is impossible. There will always be an unplanned input or untested system component, so knowing which tests will give the most coverage is one of the most important aspects of building effective testing environments. 

A key benefit of test automation is that it frees up your testers for more important tasks. By eliminating mundane, repetitive tests that can be performed more efficiently by a computer, your team can have more time to focus their efforts on exploratory testing, where they push your product to the limit. This in turn can give insights on where your product can improve, so automate the tests that give the most coverage and ensure the most stability, then use your team’s technical skills to handle the tests that require the most human intervention. 

4. Parallel Testing Requires a Mature Testing Infrastructure

We alluded to it briefly earlier, but parallel testing is more efficient than sequential testing. That means you’ll shorten the software development life cycle the most (and subsequently improve productivity and ROI) if you use parallel testing when possible, but that requires that your testing infrastructure be robust enough to handle multiple tests at once. 

Organizations expanding their testing environments may attempt to use multiple virtual machines (VMs) or instances to use parallel testing more effectively, but evaluating which tests you intend to perform can also help. Cross-browser tests, canary releases, or those that use multiple datasets are good candidates for parallel testing, and those involving multiple logins or credentials can be parallel tested as well. Automate these to make your testing process as efficient as possible, but make sure your testing infrastructure is mature enough that it can process all those concurrent tests. 

5. Lack of Communication Within Your Testing Team

Poor communication can weigh down your testing automation efforts, and it usually is the byproduct of poor planning. Typically occurring in the initial phase of the software development process, communication breakdowns happen when managers don’t lay out clear guidelines that articulate each team members’ role in resolving an issue when a defect occurs. 

By establishing a detailed resolution plan complete with a centrally managed defect tracking tool to alert team members when they must take an action, organizations can reduce the number of miscommunications on their team. Frequent conversations with employees, executives, and stakeholders can also help, so if you want your automation efforts to succeed, keep everyone in the loop.   

Invest in the Right Testing Tools to Fit Your Needs

Whether you’re designing operating systems or apps, leveraging test automation is a sure way to improve your product and launch it to market more efficiently than ever. As with any process, you’ll come across some challenges along the way, but using these test automation strategies can help you clear them all.

At Ranorex, our testing solutions can help you clear your biggest automation hurdles, so sign up for our instant demo today and see what our automation solution can do for you. 

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