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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 resources up for other tasks. However, there are 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 test automation vs. manual testing since both testing methods have pros and cons.
Manual testing requires substantial human involvement, which increases the likelihood of human errors. It is time-consuming and allows you to test only 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 exist separately. Using manual testing makes sense at the initial project stages. Likewise, it works for testing tasks at which a computer program is not quite good. But if you are working on a mature product with a solid codebase, invest in building automated test cases, for instance, to run effective regression testing.
Why Test Automation Fails and How to Fix That
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 and budget limits mismatch
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 readjusted accordingly, testing should be monitored for sifting out irrelevant results.

Similarly, you may face operational risks on the business side. The best you can do is tackle changes, make updates on time, and ensure all team members keep in line with the newest changes.

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

Managing test automation projects, you should always scrutinize risks and pitfalls to determine the best timing for automation to begin.
Test automation is not enough to test all possible scenarios. Sometimes you need manual testing. You should be well aware of automation tools limitations to avoid unrealistic expectations, which may cost you time, resources, and clients' negative image of you. Keeping the focus on a robust test automation plan and adequate task distribution will let you stay 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 keeping separate sets of data for manual and automated testing, which will save you from one set interfering with the other.

On average, 50% of cases are redundant. A good approach towards designing the test cases is to ponder over their relative weight. Having redundant tests reduces the value of test suites. Pick tests that can make it to the finish line and require less effort to receive the broadest coverage.

Maintaining test scripts and thorough reporting will help you mitigate the risk of accumulating a massive amount of errors so hard to work out.

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 of success on a project. You can employ helpful test automation reporting tools, like Zebrunner, to make the processes easy.

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 costs for substantial reworking both on the development and testing sides.

Assessing the timeline and learning curve for the chosen testing tool will facilitate your planning of team effort and drafting the project budget. Consider which specialists with what level of expertise you need and how long additional training or retraining might take. Also, pick tools that match the existing budget to have a promising start to your project.
Test automation will be a great tool to take the burden off the testers. It frees 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. It is unlikely to take over from an experienced human engineer, who may conduct, for instance, exploratory testing.

Focus on owning an adequate project assessment and use a combination of testing methods to avoid the pitfalls, given all possible risks. You can apply for team augmentation by a reliable test automation company to have 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 one or the other type to be predominant in testing.