8 Steps to Implement Testing Automation and Boost Your Team’s Productivity
Automated software testing is a well-known practice, but it’s often not implemented well — or at all. But transitioning from a manual testing process doesn’t have to painful. We’ll outline 8 steps to take when making the change, so you can accomplish more by doing less.
Though forgotten or underestimated in many companies, the automation of software testing is one of the key factors in boosting the productivity of your software projects.
Many software vendors face clients who introduce new and complex requirements throughout their projects. Other software companies are always pushing the envelope to stay ahead of competition. Either way, software development teams across the world face the same challenge: finding new and fast ways to test their products. Thus, automation can be one of your most helpful allies.
As a tech team lead at PagBank, the automation of testing for each of our projects is my responsibility. Based on a series of variables, like costs and resources, manageability, execution time, QA, and new features, I decide how the automation will take place.
We have a motto for testing: “Where there’s repetitive manual testing, there’s room for automation.” In this post, we’ll go over 8 practical steps you can take to improve (or start) testing automation at your own company, so your team can focus on the project at hand, rather than on testing.
8 Steps to Improve Software Testing Automation and Boost Your Team’s Productivity
- Determine your toolkit
- Set up a training process
- Identify key players
- Consider adopting an agile methodology
- Automate tracking and reporting
- Define a solid process
- Implement a CI/CD solution
- Transform your culture
Before diving into each step, it’s important to note that every project is different. Some of these steps might not be applicable for your team, company, or platform, but as a whole, it’s a good jumping off point for implementing automated testing.
1. Determine Your Toolkit
Just as each type of project requires a specific environmental setup, software testing automation will look different depending on the parameters of your project. Mobile is different from web, which are different from back-end only systems, and so on.
As today's project requirements get more and more complex, software development teams must pay special attention to which tools best suit each solution. During this initial toolkit selection phase, it’s important to try to predict as much as you can on this phase. Ask questions like:
- Will your system have integrations?
- If so, what types (databases, external services, etc.)?
- Will it require any type of security implementations?
- Is there anything to be asynchronous?
Once you gather that relevant information, you can make a more informed decision about the best testing tools to test your software appropriately.
2. Set Up a Training Process
It’s crucial to train your teams, especially if you’ve never done automated testing before.
Here, it’s important to remember that delegating all the training to a third-party vendor isn’t necessarily a good option. You need to be able to fully understand your testing process in order to implement it effectively. Consider bringing a skillful person onto your team for a while who can help you understand where to start.
Keep in mind the main goal of effective training: take the best and most cutting-edge ideas from outside your organization, and insert that knowledge into your organization.
3. Identify Key Players
Often, we tend to think that the Quality Assurance (QA) team are the only ones involved in the testing process. However, your testing process should begin well before you make it to the QA stage.
At some point throughout the process the product owner (PO), the developer, and any other stakeholder involved in a particular feature should be brought into the testing process. Doing so will guarantee that the test meets the requirements of the product team and that the implementation is performed by the development team.
This process is made easier by tools like Cucumber, an open-source resource that provides a neutral and agnostic language to build software tests.
With the ability to outline the details of error scenarios, Cucumber unites the entire team in coming up with testing solutions. Tools like these allow the POs, developers and any other stakeholders to collaborate together and shape how the tests should look.
4. Consider Adopting an Agile Methodology
Many organizations already consider the agile methodology to be a must. Agile development refers to an iterative development methodology that emphasizes communication, feedback, the ability to adapt to change, and delivering successful results.
Agile methodologies have proven to increase productivity with simple processes and quick techniques. When applied to software testing automation, being agile can help make the entire process more efficient and effective.
5. Automate Tracking and Reporting
For a long time, testers relied on spreadsheets to manually track bugs and issues in their software. However, if you’re automating your testing, you should automate your tracking and reporting, too.
There are tons of available tools (free and paid) you can use to easily integrate your testing suite and get rich reports of the test results. You can even program how they’ll execute based on a set of your own conditions. Get creative!
In order to ensure efficiency and productivity, the ideal tool is one that runs as independently as possible, and will only interrupt you when a problem occurs. From there, you can implement fallbacks that instruct your automation on what to do after each warning, like opening a ticket to the developers' team, or restarting the test itself.
When your tracking and reporting are both automated, it only makes sense that your testing should be as well.
6. Define a Solid Process
One of the best ways to ensure success is by making sure you’ve defined your testing automation process in detail. A strong process serves as the official guideline in terms of testing, and is a fantastic resource for onboarding or for team members who are facing uncertainty.
A word of caution: be careful when deciding where to host your documentation. To be most effective, your process documents should be easily accessible and editable by anyone significantly involved in the testing process.
7. Implement a CI/CD Solution
CI/CD is a great tool to make aspects of your project more automated. If you’re not familiar, don’t worry — CI/CD stands for Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery. Let’s dive into what those practices mean.
Continuous Integration is an automated development process that helps develops keep track of changes in files over time. It also facilitates the parallel work of many people over the same repositories.
Continuous Delivery is an automated practice that assures your software — and, of course, tests — will roll out in small pieces, so you can easily isolate bugs and deliver at a higher pace.
What CI/CD Implementation Looks Like
Here’s a report sample of an integration between Cucumber (the tool we mentioned previously) and a common CD tool, Jenkins.
As you can see, the two work in tandem to easily outline the progress of the platform’s features and success rates of various tests. This view includes insight not only into the testing process, but also details about the project, platform, and other relevant information.
8. Transform Your Culture
Making the shift to automated testing won’t happen overnight, so it’s important to make the practice a part of your culture. Train your team, focus on building a strong process, and dive in headfirst.
This team culture transformation must also extend to your recruiting efforts. Make sure you make it clear in any interviews that you take on projects where most tests are automated.
Automated Tests Boost Productivity — and Value
At PagBank, everything we build is based on a single question: Does this add real value? Whether the value is to the customers, to a process, or even to the team, it’s key to always question not just what you’re doing, but why you’re doing it.
By automating your testing, you allow your team to test more efficiently and effectively, so you can not only get your products to launch more quickly, you also ensure your team can focus on delivering new and improved solutions.