Quality assurance (QA) is a crucial part of software development that ensures the quality and functionality of the software products delivered to the customers. QA involves various testing activities such as unit testing, integration testing, system testing, regression testing, performance testing, usability testing, security testing, and more.
Efficient quality assurance systems are crucial to maintaining a competitive advantage amidst the omnipresent digitalization and increased demand for high-quality software. A thorough approach to software QA practices results in a wide range of tangible business benefits, such as the ability to predict future software development issues, top-quality software, lower costs, and higher customer satisfaction.
Companies, however, struggle to set up efficient QA processes, which has a negative impact on the company’s overall revenue generation. According to the Consortium for IT Software Quality (CISQ), the cost of low-quality software has reached $2.84 trillion just in the US.
According to a study by GMInsights, the size of the global QA market exceeded $15 billion in 2020. Researchers predict the CAGR of the market to be 16% by the end of 2027. The majority of IT product developers employ the leading approaches of today: Agile and DevOps. These methodologies have a higher success ratio as they were created as a result of years of modernization and experimentation. However, these tests are incompetent, time-consuming, and expensive when performed manually.
Put simply, manual testing can be time-consuming, error-prone, and costly. Manual testers have to perform repetitive tasks that can be tedious and boring. They also have to keep up with the changing requirements and technologies of the software industry. Moreover, manual testing can be inconsistent and unreliable due to human factors such as fatigue, distraction, or bias.
This is where automation comes into the picture. Test automation solves the major challenge of software QA teams: it accelerates routine procedures and streamlines the ratio of work/time spent on testing all software features.
How Does Automation Streamline QA Processes?
In today’s digitized world, the value of automation is far greater than ever. It might have begun with the goal of bringing down the price of routine procedures. However, automating to lower costs is not the only thing about automation. In fact, the journey becomes even more thrilling because of disruptive technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), which take automation to the next level.
In contrast to traditional automation, smart automation goes a step further and allows companies to automate non-routine operations by utilizing AI and ML to reimagine software testing and address complicated issues.
In a Gartner study titled “Predicts 2018: Application Development,” it was found that applying AI and ML to quality assurance processes will help determine how such advanced technologies can support new ways of working in IoT, mobile, and DevOps environments. The research firm also reported that companies should invest more in application testing agility by working with application leaders to explore automation use cases, including test insights, optimization, data generation, anomaly prediction, and model-based testing.
That being said, here are some of the common ways automation streamlines QA processes:
- Saving Time and Resources: Automation can reduce the testing cycle time by executing tests faster and more efficiently than humans. Automation can also run tests in parallel or overnight without human supervision. This can free up testers’ time for more creative and complex tasks.
- Improving Accuracy and Reliability: Automation can eliminate human errors and inconsistencies by following predefined scripts and scenarios. It can also ensure that tests are executed the same way across different environments and platforms.
- Enhancing Coverage and Quality: Automation can increase test coverage by executing more tests with less effort. Automation can also detect more defects earlier in the development process by performing regression tests whenever there are changes in the code or requirements.
- Providing Feedback and Insights: Automation can generate detailed reports and metrics that show the test results, performance indicators, defect trends, and root causes. This data can help developers identify issues quickly and fix them accordingly. They can also help stakeholders monitor progress and make informed decisions.
Steps to Success in Automating Workflows and QA Processes
Leveraging automation into your workflows and QA processes is a profitable investment since it can improve the team’s productivity by significantly reducing the workload required for repetitive tests, such as smoke or regression testing. Moreover, when you have leveraged automation in more than a million test cases, you learn what works and what does not – you learn what works the best.
We have compiled a list of best practices to streamline your QA processes. These steps will help you better prepare, implement, and support your test cases, thereby delivering an enhanced user experience.
1. Plan for Successful Automation
Every QA process must begin with a precise understanding of the goals of the software product and the key components that deliver them. Understanding which elements may be automated and which require manual testing is the first step in streamlining your QA process.
After determining which tests require automation, your next focus should be to prioritize test cases that are:
- Business critical
- Steady enough to be implemented
- Tedious and challenging to execute through manual testing
The main objective of your automation should be a perfect balance between the time taken to implement test cases and the amount of testing required to deliver maximum coverage.
2. Choose the Right Tool for Automation
Each product is distinct, and each testing environment is unique. You must choose the automation tool and framework to achieve your objectives. Streamlining this combination not only accelerates testing but also decreases the cost of maintenance and complexity.
The top test automation frameworks to reap the benefits of automated testing are as follows:
- Selenium: Selenium is an open-source tool to manage automation testing. It comprises various tools, plugins, and libraries to support test automation.
- Cypress: QA engineers and developers use Cypress more frequently for front-end testing because it’s developer friendly.
- Playwright: Modern web applications can be managed through end-to-end testing thanks to Playwright. It works with a variety of browsers and operating systems, so you don’t have to be concerned about flaky tests.
- Puppeteer: Puppeteer is a Node package that automates web testing via Chrome browser. It offers a high-level API for managing headless Chrome or Chromium through DevTools Protocol.
- Appium: The most popular test automation framework for testing native, hybrid, and mobile web applications is called Appium.
Be aware that changes to your test suites may require your automation framework to be adaptable. The requirements placed on the test framework that delivers your QA evolve as your product does. While selecting a tool for automation, it’s crucial to consider several factors, including an in-depth understanding of the market, devices, platforms, operating systems, performance, and security.
3. Choosing the Appropriate Test Data
According to research, testing consumes around 60% of the SDLC. Only when that time is well utilized can it prove to be productive. Your test data is essential for validating the product code, so extreme caution must be exercised when choosing input for automation scenarios.
The goal should be maximizing the number of test case combinations your test data can cover. In order to achieve coverage of priority test cases and simplify complex scenarios, ensure that your dynamic and static data are handled effectively.
4. Leverage the Right Browser Metrics
To maximize user satisfaction, it’s crucial to prioritize test cases based on their significance to the business-critical components of your product, as well as to focus equally on the OS and browsers. Execution of the script should follow your OS/browser chart so that the priorities are taken care of first.
Design your automation suite so that you can run test scripts frequently on various platforms and browsers, resulting in a reliable final product that is in accordance with consumer demands and market trends.
5. Proper Cleanup and Maintenance of Test Cases
The effectiveness of your test suite can be maintained by regularly and effectively cleaning up old tests. Information stored in the repository may become unlinked and unusable when you modify your tests.
It is usually acceptable to automate the cleanup procedure because it can be time-consuming. Nevertheless, remember that relevant automation scripts should also be refactored such that updated scripts are executed with each new test run. This guarantees that the automated code is free of pointless or irrelevant features and that your automated tests are consistent with the constantly evolving product.
The Bottom Line
Automation is a powerful way to streamline QA processes by saving time, improving accuracy, enhancing coverage, and providing feedback. Moreover, leveraging AI/ML capabilities into a QA process can improve productivity and significantly impact software quality.
However, given the numerous benefits it provides for QA teams – from identifying issues to minimizing testing time – it is important to remember that automation cannot take the position of human testers. Instead, it handles tedious and complicated jobs for QA teams, thus streamlining and simplifying testing processes.
Moreover, it also requires careful planning, selection, implementation, and maintenance to achieve its full potential. Hence, it is essential to have a clear vision of what you want to accomplish with automation and how you will measure its success. It is also necessary to have a skilled team that understands both software development and testing principles and practices.