7 Common QA Automation Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Common QA Automation Mistakes

Software development faces increased demands in speed and quality of delivery. To meet these needs, companies must rely on automation in the QA testing process or risk being unable to keep up.

Yet only 5% of companies truly embrace progressive delivery and automation in their development operations. The other 95% are stuck in traditional pipelines and time wasted on maintenance, menial tasks in testing and validation, and manual remediation.

For those that are considering or in the process of implementing automation, there are some common QA automation mistakes that can decrease effectiveness. By avoiding these mistakes, your team can achieve your testing automation goals.

1. Wrong Tool Selection 

From the outset, selecting the right tool is critical. You need to carefully evaluate the requirements for a test tool prior to beginning a search.

Sometimes tools are selected solely because they are open source. While open source is accepted in the market, you should be cautious. Open source tools often require more technical skills and may not solve the problems outlined. 

When evaluating, due diligence should be performed on both the vendor and the capabilities of the tool. No tool will meet every need of every team, but the most critical needs should be met.

2. Poorly Defined Scope

At the beginning of testing, the team needs to identify the objectives of the testing automation. Teams should ask themselves:

  • Why are we going to automate this?
  • What are the risks being mitigated?
  • How will this speed up the testing process?

By defining the goals and expectations, you can ensure that you focus on the areas where QA testing will be most improved.

3. Attempting to Replace Manual Testing

There are still parts of QA testing that better suited for manual review. A human should perform the tasks of reviewing usability or scenarios that require complex problems.

While automation can speed up some areas of testing, it cannot do everything. When testing beings, identify which tasks to automate and which are better performed by QA testers. Automation should be considered a complement to QA testing, not a replacement.

4. Automating the Wrong Tasks

Testing automation should focus on tasks that are repetitive or have a high value. Infrequent or overly complex tasks not good for automation due to the time involved in setup.

Teams that spend time trying to replicate existing test script-for-script with automation may find that they are spinning their wheels. Optimize your tool’s capabilities, rather than look to replace existing tasks in exactly the same manner.

Focus first on simple use cases. You can then show good progress and move on to more complex scenarios with your testing automation tools.

5. Insufficient Validation

Testing needs to include all levels of functionality. Focusing only on the UI, for example, leaves open potential problems that could exist in the database with data integrity or committing data. If the issues are not uncovered, it could lead to bugs or failures in the future.

The testing automation needs to validate all areas, from UI to database. 

6. Not Considering People Involved

As a whole, your company needs to foster a culture that embraces automation. Resistance from staff to adopt the new tools for developers and QA testers will hinder testing automation outcomes.

When a tool is initially selected, consider the testers’ skill set as a factor in adoption and ongoing maintenance. Expect to spend some time providing training for automation to the staff. Identify the QA testers who will lead the implementation of the new tools, and use the train-the-trainer approach to bring other staff on board.

The overall testing must also have proper supervision and the right person in place to do this. Supervision ranges from overall project management to monitoring the automation to ensure all tasks are successful. If there is a failure in the testing automation, the supervisor should be the first to know.

7. Maintenance Overhead

Testing is not static and will require regular automation maintenance, whether via automatic or manual. Do not overlook time/effort cost in maintenance.

Test teams must also keep up with changes in the application’s functionality. Continually evaluate the test scripts, so they are kept up-to-date. Factor the maintenance required into the cost of tool ownership.

Using Workflows to Create Automation

An example of testing automation can be in the workflows that you define. In a typical Development – Staging – Production environment, you can use automation to determine when to move to the next stage and even facilitate that movement.

For example, when an update is pushed into the development environment, you can use automation to run tests. Review the monitoring and service level objectives and automatically promote the update into the staging environment. From there, you can run more tests and may or may not automatically promote to production.

After deployment, if issues are reported in production, you can use automation to execute an action based on the type of problem. Your tools may incorporate self-healing, or you may have automatic rollbacks for serious issues.

Selecting the Right Automation Tool

Testing automation is critical, and the tool selected should be consistent with business operations and objectives. Aligning the right tool and investing the time and effort will yield the greatest test coverage and automation ROI. Key features to consider include:

  • automation workflows
  • flexibility to add your own code
  • scheduled tasks
  • robust monitoring
  • easy troubleshooting and debugging
  • management and enforcement of policies

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