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Let’s explore some of the common myths about automated testing and what magic might actually be there.

Automated testing has been around for a while now and is constantly improving. The tools from 20 years ago are not nearly as easy to use, intuitive or effective as newer tools that offer more options to record, code and edit test scripts. Testing tools now include some early AI technology to make test maintenance easier and failure analysis less time-consuming.

Test automation is valuable and has continued to grow in popularity. However, there are still many myths out there that keep some organizations from attempting test automation. These misconceptions or myths about test automation get in the way of organizations evolving with test automation and passing up the competition.

There is also magic in test automation. With proper test planning and design, organizations can leverage automated testing to improve software quality, improve test efficiency and reduce costs.

This guide discusses the myths and magic of automated testing, and the importance of starting with a test automation plan or strategy.

What Myths Are Associated with Automated Testing?

For this article, we define myths as data or information passed through discussion over many years. People share information all the time, including what they’ve heard or experienced. Much of this information is a judgment or a belief rather than a fact.

Here are 10 of the most common myths associated with automated testing and more context that they often lack:

  1. Test automation is expensive and often fails to generate a positive ROI.
  • There is an initial substantial cost for upfront investment in training, tool(s) and creating new processes.
  • In the long run, test automation generates a positive ROI when it follows a detailed test strategy or plan that includes all the requirements including a dedicated environment and refreshable test data.
  1. Start test automation by developing scripts from manual tests.
  • Manual tests are designed by humans for humans and are often missing explicit steps needed for proper automation, and they tend to include multiple verification points.
  • Consider creating automated test scripts from scratch to be sure they cover all application functionalities.
  1. Test automation replaces all manual testing needs.
  • Test automation will not replace all your manual testing needs. Some manual testing is always required to ensure the application works from a human point of view.
  • Test automation works better as a complement to manual testing efforts and increases the speed of test execution.
  1. It eliminates the need for a QA testing team.
  • Unless you’re going to make developers code both the application and the test cases, you’ll still need a QA testing team of variable size depending on the complexity of the application.
  • Test automation works best with a dedicated team to develop and support it.
  1. Automated test suites break so often they’re nearly useless.
  • The quality of the script design is critical. Automated scripts need to be flexible.
  • Consider adding code markers or IDs to identify objects that frequently move.
  • Try using the AI feature for self-healing in low- or no-code automation tools.
  1. Test automation guarantees testing success.
  • Just because you automate a test doesn’t mean the test is valid.
  • Test automation requires the scripter to understand the application functionality fully and add in verification points to check that the functionality works as expected.
  • Automated test scripts may generate false failures or false pass status due to an issue in the software application being tested or because of an issue with the automation tool.
  1. Test automation only works for small projects and simple applications.
  • It’s easier the simpler the application, that’s true, but any functionality or test type can be automated outside of usability or acceptance testing with the proper design.
  • Consider using test automation for exploratory testing and even end-to-end testing of complex and highly integrated applications using a modular design.
  1. Testers need to understand multiple coding languages to develop tests.
  • This depends on the tool you select. Many no-code or low-code tools require only a general understanding of programming.
  • Testers can learn how to code if desired, but likely a general understanding of coding is enough.
  1. Test automation only works for simplistic tests, like smoke tests.
  • Test automation can work on any type of testing including smoke, regression, system or end-to-end, performance, basic security and integration.
  • Include the types of testing in your automation test strategy and add design principles for test development.
  • Consider using a modular test design to create more complex test cases.
  1. There is a single universally applicable test automation tool.
  • Not possible based on the variances in system operating systems and browsers.
  • A tool that supports all applications and platforms simply would be so complex, it’d be next to impossible to configure and use.
  • Plan time to find the automation tool that works for your application architecture. Consider using one that works with the development tool used for coding to ensure compatibility.

Creating successful test automation requires a solid, well-thought-out plan. Without a plan, you’ll end up with a mishmash of test designs and styles that are difficult to troubleshoot and maintain.

What Is the Magic of Automated Testing?

Test automation magic begins with increasing options, expanding test coverage and improving test execution speed. It’s not just creating scripts to test application functionality.

Test automation can be leveraged to:

  • Install libraries
  • Set configuration variables
  • Create test data
  • Refresh test data after each execution
  • Promote a QA tester career path
  • Mock component behaviors
  • Test reporting and updating test status
  • Schedule test execution runs
  • Monitor error logs
  • And, of course, be used for test execution for unit, regression, functional, performance, smoke, integration and basic security testing

In reality, you can automate any type of testing outside of usability. Usability and user acceptance testing are best judged by a human. Although AI may provide input, some testing is best left to humans for greater effectiveness.

The magic of test automation is all the tasks it can be used for to save time and improve test coverage. Test automation is more than simply creating automated test suites for an application. There are so many testing tasks where you can effectively use and leverage test automation.

Want more magic? Consider using a codeless or low-code test automation tool. Many new tools include the added magic of AI technology to assist with test development, maintenance and failure analysis. AI can update test cases that are affected by an application change. Additionally, AI tools can review tests and offer suggestions for improving test quality and coverage.

If low or no-code tools aren’t your cup of tea, then consider automating tests within the code or creating test automation on the fly with recording tools. Some organizations prefer to continuously automate tests for each release. The tests are stored but not reused except for reference or as a base for creating new tests. In this way, test automation is continuously following the development path and there is no need for maintenance.

When choosing test automation within the code base, you’ll need developer resources and testers to work closely together. First, testers will need to learn how to access the code base and insert test scripts without negatively impacting development. Consider choosing specific testers with an interest in, or existing coding experience, to make the transition faster.

The advantage of test automation in the code base is it’s all in one location and under version control. The disadvantage is it requires more time, detailed planning, and the talents of the developer team working with designated testers.

About the Author

Amy Reichert

A QA test professional with 23+ years of QA testing experience within a variety of software development teams, Amy Reichert has extensive experience in QA process development & planning, team leadership/management, and QA project management.  She has worked on multiple types of software development methodologies including waterfall, agile, scrum, kanban and customized combinations. Amy enjoys continuing to improve her software testing craft by researching and writing on a variety of related topics. In her spare time, she enjoys gardening, cat management and the outdoors.


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