Automated Testing: Process, Planning, Tool Selection

Manual testing is performed by a human sitting in front of a computer carefully executing the test steps. Automation Testing means using an automation tool to execute your test case suite.   The automation software can also enter test data into the System Under Test ,  compare  expected and actual  results and generate detailed test  reports.

Test Automation demands considerable investments of money and resources. Successive development cycles will require execution of same test suite repeatedly. Using a test automation tool it's possible to record this test suite  and re-play it  as required. Once the  test suite is automated,  no human intervention is required . This improved ROI of Test Automation.

Goal of Automation is to reduce number of test cases to be run manually and not eliminate manual testing all together.

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Why Automated Testing?

Automated Testing: Process, Planning, Tool Selection


  Automated testing is important due to following reasons: 

  • Manual Testing of all work flows, all fields , all negative scenarios is time and cost consuming
  • It is difficult to test for multi lingual sites manually
  • Automation does not require Human intervention. You can run automated test unattended (overnight)
  • Automation increases  speed of test execution
  • Automation helps increase  Test Coverage
  • Manual Testing can become boring and hence error prone.


Which Test Cases to Automate?

Test cases to be automated can be selected using the following criterion to increase the automation ROI

  • High Risk - Business Critical test cases
  • Test cases that are executed repeatedly
  • Test Cases that are very tedious or difficult to perform manually
  • Test Cases which are time consuming

The following category of test cases are not suitable for automation:

  • Test Cases that are newly designed and not executed manually  atleast once
  • Test Cases for which the requirements are changing frequently
  • Test cases which are executed on ad-hoc basis.

Automation Process

Following steps are followed in an Automation Process

 Automated Testing: Process, Planning, Tool Selection


Test tool selection

Test Tool selection largely depends on the technology the Application Under Test is built on. For instance QTP does not support Informatica.  So QTP cannot be used for testing Informatica applications. It's a good idea to conduct Proof of Concept of Tool on AUT

Define the scope of Automation

Scope of automation is the area of your Application Under Test which will be automated. Following points help determine scope:

  • Feature that are important for the business
  • Scenarios which have large amount of data
  • Common functionalities across applications
  • Technical feasibility
  • Extent to which business components are reused
  • Complexity of test cases
  • Ability to use the same test cases for cross browser testing

Planning, Design and Development 

During this phase you create  Automation strategy & plan, which contains following details-

  • Automation tools selected
  • Framework design and its features
  • In-Scope and Out-of-scope items of automation
  • Automation test bed preparation
  • Schedule and Timeline of scripting and execution
  • Deliverables of automation testing

Test Execution

Automation Scripts are executed during this phase. The scripts need input test data before there are set to run. Once executed they provide detailed test reports.  

Execution can be performed using the automation tool directly or through the Test Management tool which will invoke the automation tool.

Example: Quality center is the Test Management tool which in turn it will invoke QTP for execution of automation scripts. Scripts can be executed in a single machine or a group of  machines. The execution can be done during night , to save time.


 As new functionalities are added to the System Under Test with successive cycles, Automation Scripts need to be added, reviewed and maintained for each release cycle. Maintenance becomes necessary to improve effectiveness of Automation Scripts. 

Automation tools

Following are the most popular test tools :

Automated Testing: Process, Planning, Tool Selection

 QTP HP's  Quick Test Professional ( now known as HP Functional Test) is the market leader in Functional Testing Tool. The tool supports plethora of environments including SAP , Java , Delphi amongst others. QTP can be used  in conjunction with Quality Center which is a comprehensive Test  Management Tool.  know  is light tool which can be recommended for web or client/server applications.

Rational Robot: It  is an IBM tool used to automate regression, functional and configuration tests for client server, e-commerce as well as  ERP applications. It can be used with Rational Test Manager which aided in Test Management Activities 

Selenium: Its an open source Web Automation Tool. It supports all types of web browsers. Despite being open source its actively developed and supported


How to Choose an Automation Tool? 

Selecting the right tool can be a tricky task. Following criterion will help you select the best tool for your requirement-

  • Environment Support
  • Ease of use
  • Testing of Database
  • Object identification
  • Image Testing
  • Error Recovery Testing
  • Object Mapping
  • Scripting Language Used
  • Support for various types of test - including functional, test management, mobile, etc...
  • Support for multiple testing frameworks
  • Easy to debug the automation software scripts
  • Ability to recognize objects in any environment
  • Extensive test reports and results
  • Minimize training cost of selected tools 

Tool selection is one of biggest challenges to be tackled before going for automation. First, Identify the requirements, explore various tools and its capabilities, set the expectation from the tool and go for a Proof Of Concept.

Framework in Automation 

A framework is  set of automation guidelines  which help in  

  • Maintaining consistency of Testing
  • Improves test structuring
  • Minimum usage of code
  • Less Maintenance of code
  • Improve re-usability
  • Non Technical testers can be involved in code
  • Training period of using the tool can be reduced
  • Involves Data wherever appropriate 

There are four types of framework used in software automation testing:

  1. Data Driven Automation Framework
  2. Keyword Driven Automation Framework
  3. Modular Automation Framework
  4. Hybrid Automation Framework 


Automation Best Practices: 

To get maximum ROI of automation, observe the following

  • Scope of Automation needs to be determined in detail before the start of the project. This sets expectations from Automation right.
  • Select the right automation tool: A tool must not be selected based on its popularity but it's fit to the automation requirements.
  • Choose appropriate framework
  • Scripting Standards- Standards have to be followed while writing the scripts for Automation .Some of them are-
    • Create uniform scripts, comments and indentation of the code
    • Adequate Exception handling - How error is handled on system  failure or unexpected behavior of the application.
    • User defined messages should be coded or standardized for Error Logging for testers to understand.
  • Measure metrics- Success of automation cannot be determined by   comparing the manual effort with the automation effort but by also capturing the following metrics.
    • Percent of defects found
    • Time required for automation testing for each and every release cycle
    • Minimal Time taken for release   
    • Customer satisfaction Index
    • Productivity improvement

The above guidelines if observed can greatly help in making your automation successful.

Benefits of automated testing

 Following are benefits of automated testing:

Automated Testing: Process, Planning, Tool Selection

  • 70% faster than the manual testing
  • Wider test coverage of application features
  • Reliable in results
  • Ensure Consistency
  • Saves Time and Cost
  • Improves accuracy
  • Human Intervention is not required while execution
  • Increases Efficiency
  • Better speed in executing tests
  • Re-usable test scripts
  • Test Frequently and thoroughly
  • More  cycle of execution can be achieved through automation 
  • Early time to market


Right selection of automation tool, testing process and team, are important players for automation to be successful. Manual and automation methods go hand-in hand for successful testing.

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