Debunking 6 Automated Testing Myths

  October 09, 2017

Automated testing has been the answer for many teams who wanted to speed up and increase their testing efforts, but misconceptions surrounding automation mean that testers don’t always get the most out of their tools.

In an attempt to correct frequent misunderstandings, we’re busting common automated testing myths to give you the truth.

Myth: You should automate 100% of your tests.

Fact: You can’t test everything. Though the ability to automate testing is a great skill, it’s impossible to automate every test. And even if you could, it wouldn’t be an efficient testing solution. Automated tests are based off source code that’s built based on manual tests. Meanwhile, some tests are better off being executed manually. Anytime a new integration is added, a new test has to be done because automated tests will only check previous scripts. Experienced automation engineers know that prioritizing tests and knowing when to automate is just as important as knowing how to automate. However, though you’re not able to automate every test, automation will greatly increase the number of tests you’re able to run.

Myth: Developers should lead automated testing efforts.

Fact: Automation Engineers should drive automation. While it does take programming and coding knowledge, most of the time it’s the testers that are building automated test scripts. As the software industry begins to depend on new testing methods and development processes, test automation architects and engineers will be in high demand. In fact, most of the time having an automation engineer is preferred to a developer because testers have the mindset, training, and specialized skills for different automation tasks, which include much more than just coding.

Myth: Automation is more expensive than manual testing

Fact: If utilized correctly, automation can save money. While the initial investment in automated testing tools and hiring testers may seem more expensive, the ROI of test automation is often worth it since it saves time that would usually be spent on manual testing and increases productivity. For example, if you’re manually running tests that could be automated, it’s costing you in wasted time because your testers could be doing something more constructive. If you think about this scenario over weeks, months, or years, that’s a huge opportunity cost. Test automation is also a cost effective way to extend testing coverage, scale testing efforts, and mitigate risks as your application grows.

Myth: Automated testing is better than manual testing

Fact: Neither automated or manual testing is better or worse than each other, they just have different uses. The most effective testing strategy will find a happy medium between automation and manual testing. Manual testing is better for one-off tests or tests that require human observation, so exploratory tests, smoke tests, and usability testing should all be manual. Automation is usually best for repeated tests or things that need to be frequently tested, such as regression tests. Familiarizing yourself with the different uses and applying them to the appropriate test cases is the best way to get the most out of your time, money, and testing efforts.

Myth: Automated Testing is an easy fix.

Fact: Automated testing isn’t a one-and-done solution. You can’t set up an automated test and expect that you’ll never have to look at it again. In fact, the source code of your automated tests takes a good amount of maintenance to check that it’s doing its job. Not to mention that changing an organization’s testing and development processes will require new training and onboarding to familiarize stakeholders with automation and writing sophisticated tests. Though the ROI of test automation will likely be apparent over time, the transition to a mostly-automated process from a mostly-manual one will take commitment, patience, and financial investment.

Myth: Automation will solve all of your problems.

Fact: Automation is not a silver bullet. Automation engineers experience false positives and flaky builds that come from a lack of human observation, maintenance, and company-wide collaboration. For example, common challenges using Selenium for automated testing might include coding for cases with more complicated elements like dynamic content, multiple tabs, and pop-up windows that are easier to test manually. Testing will still require the specialized skills of a talented testing team to troubleshoot problems, write scripts, manage tools, and maintain test cases. For some best practices of Selenium testing, check out this guide.