Manual processes are often time-consuming processes.
They tend to be repetitive, even boring processes.
They are not the kind of work people tend to do as well as machines.
This could be why — even though he was writing long before software as we know it came to be — the poet Alexander Pope said, “To err is human.”
All it takes is one small production bug in a piece of software, for example, to show even the largest organizations why moving to automated QA testing could be one of the smartest decisions they’ll ever make.
Pick almost any application: a mobile app to better engage your customers, a web portal that connects to your supply chain or even an e-commerce site. Testing may have been done before it went into production, but many organizations continue to rely on their teams to do so manually.
There’s also lost velocity to consider. One of the major reasons to do QA automation is to manage a set of tests that are integrated in the development pipeline. This is the key to ensure that quality is baked in the Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Delivery (CD) process and this enables your team to deliver software products before your competitors beat you to the punch.
If you need help getting support and buy-in for QA automation, read on.
The Business Case For QA Automation
Mistakes happen in manual processes, but the consequences for businesses can be considerable.
Within seconds, companies can lose revenue. Teams that should be focused on activities to help grow the business are instead pulled in to triage the situation, explore the root cause analysis of the issue, and then try to restore the application.
This is one of the key considerations in the business case for automated QA testing, but it’s not the only one.
Applications could once run for some time before they needed a major update. Today, the most successful companies are developing and deploying updates multiple times a day. That means they need to be testing multiple times a day too.
The risk is that, over time, the quality of the product is going to go down. Sometimes it can be a slow degradation in quality — your application starts to respond more slowly to requests. The human eye may not even notice, until the degradation reaches a point you have disgruntled employees, angry customers, or both.
The risk of degradation is not just in application performance, but usability and even security. The latter could make the impact of a cyberattack or another incident far worse than it needs to be.
Relying on manual testing can decrease your time to market. It can also slow down other innovations you want to pursue as a company because your resources (your developers) are tied up trying to fix issues that manual testers did not and could not catch.
How To Chart A Path Towards Automated QA Testing
Sometimes I’ve found organizations have stuck with manual testing because it’s all they’ve known. It sometimes takes new people coming on board with fresh perspectives who realize the organization needs to change.
In other cases, an organization might begin to find it increasingly difficult to continue hiring the right people to do testing manually. They might not even have dedicated testers. Instead, they might have their devs spend part of their time checking each other’s work instead of forging ahead with their next breakthrough idea.
Here’s the good news: moving to automated QA testing is not that difficult, especially if you work with partners who have expertise and the resources to help you embrace automation. We do it at Architech all the time, and we do it with intentionality. In other words, we try to not only introduce new technologies and processes, but align with the unique business needs and context of every client.
Let me give you a simple walk-through of what’s involved:
1. Dive Into Discovery And Project Design
First, you need to bring all the relevant stakeholders together. This can vary depending on your organization, but the usual suspects include product owners, project managers, and any internal QA resources you may have. This becomes the team that our devs and QA engineers at Architech will work with in a collaborative way to make sure the transition is smooth.
This is also the point where I typically offer clients what I call a discovery form. It’s a standard set of questions that help unearth key pieces of information about the applications they’re developing, the business outcomes they need to achieve and any challenges that are already in the way.
From there, you need to develop a solid plan that defines the roles and responsibilities of everyone involved and the milestones you’ll need to hit. Keep in mind that you need to have some flexibility here. There are always going to be some unknowns in any software project, and as the work unfolds you’ll learn more that may need to factor into your plan.
Just make sure the goals are clearly defined. Speaking of which:
2. Aim For Both Short-Term and Long-Term Improvements
Automated QA testing is not just about replicating what you had done manually. You should be looking at how the technology can do a better job than what was done before.
This is usually when it’s a good idea to have an important discussion with all your stakeholders. Everyone involved needs to agree upon a number that represents the total runtime of tests for the applications that are going to be affected.
Let’s say you’re testing a mobile app, for example. Going through a full regression test cycle on the app manually might have taken two days in the past. Automated testing could shrink that down to only two hours, even if it means doing a full regression of the app.
Now think about what has historically happened over a six-month window, or a year. How quickly have you been able to add new features, for instance? If that could be reduced as well, what will that mean for other forecasts and plans your business has in place?
3. Bring Together The Best Of Your Documentation And The Right Tech Stack
That discovery process I mentioned earlier should also explore the quality of the available documentation you might have, such as test case management tool’s content. This allows you and a partner like Architech to draw a blueprint of sorts about the technology and framework that will best suit your environment.
If you’re developing a modern React application that has a lot for asynchronous functions, say, you might want to pick Cypress, Playwright or some other modern test automation framework. If you’re more focused on a legacy webform, you could choose a different set of tools. The point is that your testing framework and your application architecture must align.
Don’t forget to consider app stabilization. If you’re constantly making changes or rewriting the application, you need to make sure the framework has the flexibility to easily incorporate rapidly changing designs and patterns.
Also, be prepared to give your QA automation framework some love now and then. There are always going to be updates to tools, new versions or entirely new technologies that might become part of your framework. This is really about developing an automated QA practice — something you’ll maintain for the health of your business.
The ease of CI/CD pipeline integration is a very important factor in picking the right QA automation framework. All modern test automation frameworks and tools provide this, but it is important to explore which tool and language your team is most comfortable with and to ensure quick and robust integration. Reporting and Cross-platform and mobile testing needs of your organization should also be factored in.
Choosing The Right QA Testing Automation Partner
The best technology partners should be able to help you deliver the speed you want to QA testing, but also a lot more.
Look for someone that has experience automating testing for applications that run across different fields or industries. This could include fintech, marketing technology and other verticals.
You should also look for a proven track record. I know in talking to clients that being able to draw upon 12 years of experience helps me bring them the value they deserve.
Finally, consider what kind of thought leadership a partner can introduce to your organization, whether it’s the latest trends in cloud computing, updates on Azure certifications or emerging technologies they should watch. I personally love staying connected to clients and product owners to keep the strategic conversation going. Even when you’re automating an area like QA testing, it’s always more fulfilling when you keep that human touch.