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How to Choose the Best Time to Start Test Automation

Knowing if your software project is mature enough for test automation is the key to making the best decision: to invest in automation or not at a given point.

You may go for automated testing on having your project maturity estimation and calculating the ROI of test automation to ensure this strategic decision will add value.

Let's dive into the ways of estimating your project maturity towards test automation.

By Leo Prada, Technical Project Manager
October 20, 2021
Which Projects Need Automated Testing
If your project involves a considerable volume of software functionality and an increasing level of repetitive tasks, this project is a priority candidate for test automation.

Using test automation best practices is vital for a DevOps approach to software development. Your engineers will have more thorough testing included in the continuous development/continuous deployment process.

For some projects, you may need automation at the stage of functional testing, including smoke, regression, and repetitive testing tasks. Such non-functional testing as performance, security firmness, and stress testing may also require automated testing.

So, what is the right time to introduce test automation?

Once your manual QA team starts to envision repetitive tasks being a burden.

If you see that the number of release features is growing, it makes sense to invest in automation. Besides, you should also consider including test automation in a CI/CD implementation plan.
How to Determine Project Maturity: A Scientific Guide
You may stick to a scientific approach to identifying the essential project components that require automation. You will have to estimate every component to get a comprehensive project maturity assessment.

The following 14-item list will guide you:

  • Test Automation Strategy. Check your strategic plan. Are the goals for test automation clear and risks identified? Does your team understand roles and responsibilities?

  • Resources. You will need quite a few skilled people, reliable financing opportunities, and the correct assessment of time and effort.

  • Test organization. A test group should be motivated and experienced in choosing the best test automation tools and writing and maintaining tests. You will need problem-solving mechanisms in place that will work smoothly.

  • Knowledge Transfer. Take into account the time and effort required for efficient knowledge transfer to communicate best practices and nourish collective knowledge.

  • Test tool selection. Select the right tool, taking into account the features needed for your project, such as a need for mock testing. Think about technical constraints like programming languages, test environment, available budget, and local regulations.

  • Test tool usage. New tools require testing in pilot projects. You should set clear goals and reevaluate them from time to time.

  • Test environment. Make sure all the requirements on a test environment are simple, environment configuration is under control.

  • Test requirements. Your engineers need a defined way to derive test automation requirements.

  • Test design. There are specific test design techniques to choose from. When your engineers create test cases, select those that fit different purposes like smoke, regression tests, and more.

  • Test execution. Make sure your engineers prioritize test cases to meet your schedule. They should pre-process tasks before the execution and have post-processing tasks performed automatically.

  • Verdicts. They indicate the results of executing automated test cases. You will need them to see the results collected from different sources, managed, and integrated into the big picture.

  • Test automation process. This process should go in parallel to development cycles.

  • Software under test (SUT). The execution speed of a SUT should be high enough to conduct test automation.

  • Measurements and quality attributes. Consider such key aspects of test automation as test thoroughness, effectiveness, efficiency, reliability, portability, maintainability, usability, and functionality.
You have to estimate all the components thoroughly before deciding if your project needs automation right away or should you wait for the right moment to come.
Launching Test Automation on a Real Project
Marko Miloš, CTO at Undabot, a software service provider from Croatia, told us that they don't automate everything just because but perform an internal analysis first. They allocate QA engineers to analyze a given case and decide if automation is going to add value.

He said that automated testing candidates are projects likely to face regular changes, require re-testing, and where re-testing may take long.

Marko mentioned that automation significantly saves them time and frees up more QA resources, but that is not the point. Automation provides a great level of confidence that critical processes are stable.

Among the automated testing tools they use are Selenium, Python, Appium, and Browserstack. We would also recommend Zebrunner MCloud. This test automation software resembles a private device farm for doing mobile app testing 24/7 and in-depth test automation of your product on many different devices.
How to Understand Your Project Is Ready for Automation
Start with an internal assessment and discuss your plans with all stakeholders to understand if the project is ripe for analysis.

After that, conduct a detailed systemic analysis of all vital elements. Follow our list from a previous section and use it as a template. And remember to be as conscientious as possible.

Then you will need to decide on your best-fit implementation strategy, keeping in mind the importance of staying coherent with your CI/CD plan.

Ezequiel Schwemmer, Engineering manager at Wolox, shared that if automation is implemented in a correct manner, it may become an excellent assistant to elevate overall process quality. That depends on many variables, for instance, whether you have already defined the needed level of automation or not.

You may use the Cohns' Test Pyramid that is well described here. The concept encourages you to focus on different layers of testing and the amount of testing needed on each layer.

By reviewing your schedule and budget and adjusting them to the automation planning, you can set the right moment to start the automation.
Conclusion
If you wish to get the most out of test automation, you need to understand how and when you will implement test automation on each particular project. Each key element requires your attention to make a comprehensive project estimation.

The template we've provided can make this easier for you and your team. Solvd can also support your testing efforts by providing all the necessary consulting and test automation engineering teams.

When you have everything done in line with the planning, you may expect considerable savings on time and resources. You may also receive new opportunities to rearrange your QA teams, increase their efficiency, and mitigate the risks associated with testing critical project parts.