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Learn about the primary benefits of automated testing and why they’re crucial to current software development practices.

Automated testing has quickly become one of the cornerstones of high-quality software applications and with good reason. Unlike in the past, where manual testing was the norm and few automation tools and frameworks existed, we can now leverage automation to reach more efficient and effective testing cycles to manage the fast-paced tech environment we live in. The demand for faster development cycles and high customer standards are leading the charge toward automated solutions, with quality assurance becoming one of its primary focuses.

Using automated testing to reliably manage the repetitive and tedious steps required to validate functionality in our applications helps reduce the time and resources needed to reach a high bar of quality. Instead of having human testers spend hours or days going through an application over and over any time there’s a new change, an automated test suite can blaze through the same actions in minutes. It doesn’t just change the way we address quality in software; it transforms the entire software development lifecycle.

Why Automated Testing Is Essential

Many organizations feel like they need to jump on the automated testing bandwagon to keep up with current trends. However, automation for the sake of keeping up is a wasted endeavor. The intent behind test automation should be to adopt a shift in the way we build software. Applying test automation in software development processes will support fast iterations while maintaining stability and usability—necessary ingredients for a sustainable software business. Eliminating time-consuming testing tasks allows developers and testers to focus on higher value and more complex tasks that require their creativity and critical thinking, where humans trump machines every time.

Automated testing also plays a vital role in building software for the long haul. Methodologies like Agile and DevOps focus on short and iterative development, fast feedback loops and continuous delivery practices. Automated testing fits in perfectly with these processes by performing validations with each code update, quickly alerting the team of any issues and providing the confidence that these changes are safe to deploy anytime. Without test automation, teams wouldn’t be able to undertake the rapid cycles required by these approaches to software development.

The Benefits of an Automated Test Suite

So far, this article has explored the importance of building and maintaining an automated test suite. Let’s dig deeper into the many benefits that test automation can yield to any software development team.

Benefit 1: Increased Efficiency and Speed

The most noticeable benefit of automated testing is speed. A computer can go through automated test scenarios in minutes or even seconds. Unlike a manual testing process where one or more testers must execute dozens of steps by hand, an automated test goes through those same steps in a fraction of the time. The scope and complexity of modern applications mean that we need to validate hundreds or thousands of actions, events and edge cases. Without automation, organizations could not release stable software products on time, especially as the application expands in size and functionality.

For example, I once worked on a team building a complex web application in the financial space, where a bug could potentially cause millions of dollars worth of damage to their customers. Because of these stakes, the team took two weeks to perform a full manual regression test across the entire system. In an effort to accelerate the pace of our schedule, we began working on automating most of the repetitive parts of QA. After a few months, we reduced the same regression test to 4 hours. The team went from deploying new functionality every few months to deploying weekly. The rapid release cycles increased customer satisfaction and boosted product sales.

Benefit 2: Enhanced Accuracy

Besides running tests quickly, automation saves tons of time by eliminating human error while going through test cases. The repetitive nature of manual testing often leads to mistakes and oversights that become more expensive to deal with later in the project’s schedule. Before discovering the wonders of test automation early in my career, I would painstakingly go through my changes in an application manually. Since I had to juggle both development and testing in my head simultaneously, I would inevitably get distracted or tired and forget to check something, causing production bugs.

With test automation, this issue will become a thing of the past. Automation will handle those repetitious tasks the same way every time you execute them, increasing the consistency and reliability of each test run. It won’t get interrupted by a co-worker or become exhausted after checking the same section of the application for the hundredth time. A dependable test suite catches bugs with a higher degree of accuracy and increases the development team’s confidence in building and deploying their products. All of this leads to stable and frequent releases and happier customers.

Benefit 3: Improved Coverage of Complex Test Scenarios

Automated testing helps improve speed and accuracy thanks to managing repetitive tasks programmatically. However, it’s not only about performing the same functions with increased velocity and precision. Your applications might contain intricate business logic, lots of moving parts or specific requirements beyond what a manual test can do on time. Automation can assist with handling complicated test scenarios that are unfeasible to perform manually due to resource and time restraints. You can take a long user flow that requires an intricate series of steps, write an automated script covering those actions, and get it running without worrying about spending precious time or mental bandwidth on it again.

For some scenarios, you can’t perform them with human testers alone. One type of testing that emphasizes this is performance testing. These tests need to simulate hundreds or thousands of virtual users interacting with an application to verify how it holds up under heavy load. Unless your team has hundreds of testers at its disposal to hammer your infrastructure with traffic, it’s impossible to replicate this scenario for testing purposes. On the other hand, automated performance testing tools like Telerik Test Studio can easily handle performance tests. This example shows how automation helps address challenging testing conditions that we can’t manage without it.

Benefit 4: Save Money in the Long Run

One of the reasons why organizations decide to defer automated testing to the future is because of the initial costs involved. This kind of work doesn’t come for free and requires people and plenty of time to get up and running at the start. There is also some maintenance overhead as the test suite expands and needs regular upkeep by the team to continue working smoothly. However, the money spent upfront is eventually offset by the savings that come from leaner and more effective software development across the board. Automated testing isn’t a cost-consuming process. When done well, it’s a cost-effective solution.

Once a team has its test automation systems in place, it can use them again and again at a fraction of the cost that it would take a team of human testers. The organization can then move these testers to perform tasks better suited to their unique skills to make the most out of their QA efforts. Additionally, organizations will save money with early detection since fixing defects early in the software development lifecycle is faster and cheaper. Any organization resisting the move toward automated testing solutions due to costs needs to look beyond the initial expenses and see the incredible value it yields.

Benefit 5: A Highly Collaborative Team

An argument that often pops up online regarding automated testing concerns who owns it in a project. Should developers be the ones solely responsible for writing tests? Should QA handle the test cases and execution on their own? The truth is that the responsibility should belong to everyone involved in building the software, from the early stages of development to the time the code is shipped out the door. It’s a shared responsibility because automated testing is essential to the entire software development process. Teams can’t expect to work in silos without taking a hit on the overall quality of the end product.

The cooperation that stems from automated testing helps accelerate the pace of development and testing. The teams I’ve worked with that have the most collaboration tend to work in parallel, with developers writing and running unit and functional tests, while testers improve test coverage with end-to-end and exploratory testing at the same time. DevOps engineers also jump in by implementing continuous integration pipelines to provide immediate feedback for all changes in the codebase. This accountability from developers, testers and operations teams leads to a more collaborative environment where teams share their knowledge and work together to ensure they release a high-quality product.

Conclusion: Automated Testing Is the Foundation for Agile and High-Quality Software

As shown in this article, the benefits of automated testing make it a vital part of software development, providing plenty of advantages for organizations that want to build and ship new products and features consistently. Quicker testing cycles, increased accuracy, cost savings and improved teamwork allow teams to keep up with the fast pace of technology and high customer standards. With excellent testing tools like Telerik Test Studio helping make automated testing a breeze, there’s no excuse not to adopt this practice. The future of automated testing is also bright, with advances in machine learning and AI facilitating the existing work of developers and testers.

Implementing automated testing in your organization isn’t about making development cycles faster or cheaper. While these results make for a better end product, the primary benefit it yields is building a solid foundation for high-quality software in the long run. Reducing the tedious and repetitive work involved in testing frees up the time to tackle more important tasks that will improve your products. Over time, it adds up to an efficient development process where organizations can rapidly deliver value and quality to their customers, something every software development organization should strive toward.

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About the Author

Dennis Martinez

Dennis Martinez is a freelance automation tester and DevOps engineer living in Osaka, Japan. He has over 19 years of professional experience working at startups in New York City, San Francisco, and Tokyo. Dennis also maintains Dev Tester, writing about automated testing and test automation to help you become a better tester. You can also find him on LinkedIn and his website.

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