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    Test automation: debunking 5 popular myths

    While small projects may not require test automation, comprehensive testing becomes essential as your project and product grow. A dilemma arises when manual testing becomes time-consuming: releasing software with incomplete test coverage or delaying the release for thorough checking. Test automation emerges as a practical solution to identify and resolve potential bugs while saving crucial time. In this article, in collaboration with Zebrunner, a test automation reporting solution developer, we will debunk common myths surrounding test automation.

    Myth #1. Test automation works only in large companies

    This myth likely arose from the perception that only large companies with extensive resources can afford and implement test automation effectively. However, the reality is quite different. Test automation is not exclusive to big companies; it can be beneficial and feasible for businesses of all sizes.

    While large companies might have more resources, test automation tools and frameworks can scale to suit the needs of smaller companies as well. Automation can be tailored to fit the scope and complexity of most projects. Also, in smaller companies, where teams may not be very large, test automation can significantly free up testers’ time. This enables them to focus on critical testing aspects that require human judgment and creativity.

    Regardless of company size, maintaining consistency in testing is important. Automation ensures that test cases are executed uniformly across different projects, preventing gaps in coverage.

     

    In reality, test automation is adaptable to a company’s size and needs. Smaller companies can benefit immensely by automating repetitive tasks, improving efficiency, and delivering reliable software. 

    Myth #2. Test automation is expensive

    This myth stems from the perception that test automation requires significant upfront investment in terms of tools, resources, and expertise. However, the cost-effectiveness of test automation depends on various factors and can vary in different scenarios. Let’s see in detail:

    • Initial investment vs. Long-term savings. While there might be an initial cost to acquire tools and set up automation frameworks, the long-term savings are substantial. Automated tests can be executed repeatedly with minimal additional cost, unlike manual testing, which incurs ongoing labor expenses.
    • Resource allocation. Automation reduces the time testers spend on repetitive tasks, allowing them to focus on critical testing aspects. This optimized resource allocation can lead to overall cost savings.
    • Regression testing. Automated tests excel in regression testing, ensuring that new code changes don’t break existing functionalities. Manual regression testing can be time-consuming and error-prone, resulting in higher long-term costs.
    • Faster feedback loop. Automated tests provide faster feedback on code changes, helping developers identify and fix issues early. This efficiency reduces the cost of addressing defects later in the development cycle.
    • Continuous Integration and Deployment (CI/CD). In a CI/CD environment, automated tests play a pivotal role. They contribute to more frequent and reliable software releases, which can translate to faster time-to-market and competitive advantage.
    • Reduced manual labor. Automated tests minimize the need for extensive manual labor, reducing the risk of human errors and potential costs associated with fixing these errors.

    But sometimes this myth can be true. Setting up an automation framework requires an initial investment in tools, training, and possibly hiring skilled automation engineers. For some organizations, this upfront cost might be perceived as expensive. Moreover, automated tests require ongoing maintenance to stay aligned with changes in the software. Failing to maintain them properly can lead to additional costs.

    Myth #3. Test automation will replace manual testing soon

    This myth likely arose from the rapid advancement of test automation technologies and the belief that automation can handle all testing scenarios. However, the role of manual testing remains essential and complementary to automation.

    In real conditions, test automation and manual testing coexist as complementary approaches. They each have their strengths, and the choice depends on the nature of the testing requirement. While automation improves efficiency and coverage, manual testing remains indispensable for its critical thinking, adaptability, and human touch in evaluating software quality.

    So, for now, this myth can’t be true for the following reasons:


    • Critical thinking. Automation excels at repetitive and scripted tasks, but human testers bring critical thinking and creativity to exploratory testing, identifying nuanced issues that automated tests might miss.
    • User experience. Manual testing assesses usability, user experience, and subjective aspects that require human perception, making it difficult for automation to entirely replace these aspects.
    • New and unpredictable scenarios. New features and complex scenarios often require manual testing initially. Automated tests might not adapt quickly to these changes, whereas human testers can quickly explore uncharted territories.
    • Edge cases and usability. Human testers can better simulate real-world conditions, uncovering edge cases and usability issues that automated tests might not detect.
    • Early testing phases. In early development phases or for prototype testing, where requirements might be evolving, manual testing offers flexibility and adaptability.

    Myth #4. Test automation requires hard skills in coding

    This myth has been raised due to several misconceptions and misunderstandings about test automation and its relation to coding skills. Let’s address why it’s not entirely true in real conditions:

     

    • Many automation tools don’t require coding skills. It allows testers to create automated tests with minimal to no coding experience. These tools provide a user-friendly interface and offer options for scripting using simpler languages like JavaScript, Python, or even plain English. 
    • With the emergence of low-code and no-code automation platforms, the need for hardcore coding skills is diminishing. These platforms allow testers to create automation scripts using visual interfaces or predefined building blocks, eliminating the need for writing complex code.
    • In some organizations, there are specialized test automation engineers roles who focus on test automation. These individuals often have more coding skills than traditional manual testers, but not to the extent of software developers. This specialization allows teams to balance the need for coding skills within the testing process.

    Myth #5. Test automation is suitable for any project

    The myth that test automation is universally suitable for any project has been raised due to several misconceptions and idealistic assumptions. This myth is not entirely true in real conditions because of the list of reasons:

    • Test automation is best suited for projects with repetitive and well-defined test cases. However, for highly complex projects with frequently changing requirements, automating tests can be challenging and sometimes counterproductive. Automation may not keep up with rapidly evolving features and require constant maintenance.
    • Test automation is not well-suited for exploratory testing, where testers need to explore the application dynamically, discover new issues, and adapt test cases on the fly. Human testers are better equipped for such tasks.
    • Manual testing may provide a higher level of assurance and adaptability to unexpected scenarios compared to automation.
    • Automation may not effectively evaluate the user experience and usability aspects of a project, which are often best assessed through manual testing and user feedback.

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