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Risks of Test Automation Project: How to Mitigate?

Test automation is a great strategic decision that you can make to save costs, reduce the time of a testing cycle, and free up resources up for other tasks. However, there are potential pitfalls you should be aware of when steering your company towards automation testing.
By Leo Prada, Technical Project Manager
October 4, 2021
Test Automation Benefits
If you wish to maximize key project elements, such as time, budget, and scope, you should choose your best-fit test automation type: automated, manual, or a combination of both.

You might be confused when it comes to automated testing vs. manual testing since both testing methods have their own pros and cons.
Manual testing requires substantial human involvement, which increases the likelihood of human errors. It is time-consuming and allows you to only test the interface and usability.

On the other hand, manual testers or QA engineers don't need much technical expertise to enter the profession. This position is a great starting point for someone with little experience but a keen eye for detail and a basic understanding of how apps work. Hiring and onboarding such specialists won't take you long.

Automated testing is somewhat different. Test automation engineers - sometimes also referred to as SDET (Software Development Engineer in Test) - design test cases and write code or pseudo-code to test the software automatically. Their solid technical background, test automation skills, and experience may become a perfect addition to your project.

So, what specialists should you bring on your team first?

Focus on engineers who can contribute test automation best practices to your project but always have manual testing opportunities at hand.

Manual and automated testing shouldn't be mutually exclusive. Using manual testing makes more sense at the initial project stages. Likewise, it works for testing tasks at which a computer program is not quite as good. But if you are working on a mature product with a solid codebase, invest in building automated test cases as a way to run effective regression testing.
Why Test Automation Fails and How to Fix Failures
When running a test automation project, you may stumble over different types of risks:
  • Operational risks

  • Limitations of test automation tools

  • Poor test reporting or lack of reporting tools

  • Tools costs and budget limits don't coincide
Operational risks may result from making changes to the interface while a test automation process is in progress. You can mitigate that by having changes communicated as soon as possible. After the automation code is adjusted accordingly, testing should be monitored to root out any irrelevant results.

Also, you may face operational risks on the business side. It is very importance to tackle all changes, make updates in a timely manner, and ensure that all team members keep abreast of the newest changes.

Another operational risk that lurks behind is having too many blocking defects. That may result in tests failing downstream and an intermingled myriad of failures that will require a sieve analysis and will entail encroaching costs.

When managing test automation projects, you should always scrutinize the potential risks and pitfalls before implementation to determine the best timing for automation to begin.
Test automation isn't enough to test all possible scenarios. Sometimes you will also need manual testing. You should be aware of any automation tool limitations to avoid unrealistic expectations, which may cost you time, resources, and a positive image with your clients. Keeping the focus on a robust test automation plan and adequate task distribution will help keep you on the safe side.

Automation testing may and will alter the test data. While planning your test automation suite, consider the test data you chaff off and include a procedure to refresh wasted or altered data. A supplementary test automation strategy is to keep separate sets of data for manual and automated testing, which will help avoid one set interfering with the other.

On average, about 50% of all cases are redundant. A good approach towards designing the test cases is to evaluate their relative weight. Having redundant tests reduces the value of test suites. Pick tests that can make it to the finish line and require the least amount of effort to generate the broadest coverage.

Maintaining test scripts and thorough reporting will help minimize the risk of accumulating a massive amount of time-consuming errors that will need to be corrected.

When analyzing the results of your test automation report, always remember to identify which test failure is a show-stopper. Not all test failures have the same relative weight towards the overall success or lack thereof on a project. You can employ helpful test automation reporting tools like Zebrunner to help make the processes easier.

Make sure that your code is somewhat stable before plunging into the effort of automating its testing. Even though you are highly likely to be working in agile environments, the timing of the automation testing has to coincide with points where the application is stable enough. Otherwise, your work will be pointless and incur excess costs for substantial reworking both on the development and testing sides.

By assessing the timeline and learning curve for the chosen testing tool, you will facilitate the planning of team effort and budget. Consider specialists with a proper level of expertise who may assist you and how long additional training or retraining them might take. Also, pick tools that match the existing budget to have a promising start to your project.
Test automation is an excellent tool to help take the burden off the testers. It frees up resources for doing the testing that a computer can't handle.

One of the fundamental risks you may face building your test automation roadmap is the lack of understanding that automation, by definition, is limited. Test automation is unlikely to take over from an experienced human engineer, who may conduct, for instance, exploratory testing.

Focus on conducting an adequate project assessment and use a combination of testing methods to consider all the possible risks and avoid pitfalls. You can apply for team augmentation from a reliable test automation company to take the weight of strategizing off your shoulders.

At the end of the day, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. The same project at different stages may require different approaches to be predominant in testing.