Test is Not Dead
By Matt Angerer
In the world of software testing, test automation is hardly a newcomer. Given the length of time manual regression testing cycles can take, automation is becoming more and more commonplace. As a result there is often contention between automated testing and quality assurance, naturally leading to the question of whether automation will eventually overtake the role of quality assurance (QA). Efficiency minded IT executives often hone their attention around the bottom line benefits realized by building out an automation testing center of excellence. There is clear value when your organization can effectively build an automation framework that covers the critical business functionality of an application under test (AUT). So what’s best for your organization?
Exploring the Benefits of Test Automation
It cannot be denied that test automation offers some critical benefits. First and foremost, test automation significantly decreases the amount of time required to test a system. All it takes is to write a test script one time, which can then be run many times thereafter. What previously required days can now be performed in only minutes! Feedback is generated faster and more frequently, and it becomes easier to find bugs. As a result, teams can go to production at a faster rate. The concept of Test Automation fits beautifully into the concept of DevOps — faster, faster, faster — more, more, more. The business world wants instant gratification for their development investments — not only in the form of feedback cycles from real-world users, but in the form continuous automation testing over new builds.
Automated testing also makes it possible to avoid the inevitable mistakes that humans make. It’s just a fact of life that humans are prone to error. Automated tests can be performed over and over in a much more consistent manner. This helps to save a tremendous amount of time while producing error-free results. Perhaps the most important benefit of test automation is that it actually frees the QA team to perform their more subjective duties.
What Is the Difference Between Test Automation and QA?
A key distinction must be made between QA and automated testing; however, while an automated test is designed to check functionality, which it does quite well, it does not actually test. It is only capable of checking known scenarios. Basically, it does what we tell it to do. The benefit of this is that automated tests provide the basis for exploratory testing, which generates the feedback QA needs. With the time freed up from this type of testing, QA then has the resources available to identify and locate other vulnerabilities. Automated testing gives you both the freedom and the time to perform the type of testing you are able to handle best—those unknown scenarios that an automated system could never address.
While there may be a common concern that automated testing will overtake the role of QA, it’s important to understand that test automation has the potential to give QA more power than ever before. Rather than wasting your time on redundant and repetitive checking, you can instead delegate those tasks to automated tests and unleash your creativity on areas that you handle best. Not only will you be able to spend less time on redundant tasks, but you will also be able to turn out a better software product.
QA and Manual Testing are still critical components to ensuring the delivery of bug-free software that meets the customer’s needs. Test Automation is only one piece of the puzzle to an organization’s overall QA strategy. To learn more about implementing automated testing into your development cycle, check out our automation services or visit the HP Unified Functional Testing product page to see the software firsthand.