How to Avoid Common Test Automation Failures

Many test automation projects are doomed to failure. In many of these cases, failure is caused by easily avoidable issues. When properly implemented, automation can help optimise the testing process. However, successful automation requires realistic expectations. Furthermore, you’ll need the right tools in place beforehand. Below, we explore the most common causes of automation failures and how you can overcome them in the future.

1. Aiming for Complete Test Coverage

Many people make the mistake of assuming test automation involves a completely automated approach to testing. Although automation yields significant time-saving benefits, it still requires some manual input. This includes things like exploratory testing and probing for any unstable features. Although automation has its advantages, it’s no replacement for the advanced skill set of an experienced tester.

Rather than using automation to attain 100% test coverage, you should instead focus on gradually replacing manual testing with automated support. Identify flows that lend themselves best to automation. These flows tend to be fairly repetitive and consume considerable manpower. The time and effort saved by automating these simple flows can be redirected towards testing areas that require manual input.

2. Failure to Promote Collective Ownership

Automation tools may seem user-friendly, but they present significant technical challenges for inexperienced users. Even the best-designed tools require onboarding and can put considerable strain on support and technical teams. Ultimately, you face distracting chief testers away from their core tasks.

Automation tools usually require some programming input. In many cases, this results in split teams, populated by more technical-minded individuals and testers with relatively little technical experience.

This gulf in experience level can lead to automation failure. If only a handful of testers have true ownership of automation, they’re the only ones who can properly maintain cases and effectively utilise results. Should personnel from this exclusive group leave your organisation, you’ll also need to commit considerable time to train new testers. In certain instances, you may need to rebuild test cases entirely.

To avoid these issues, you should be striving to build teams that share collective knowledge. It’s also important to use automation platforms that are accessible to all. An easy-to-use platform will make day-to-day operations straightforward while streamlining the onboarding process for new testers.

3. Attempting to Test Too Much in a Single Case

Another way to derail a test project is attempting to test too many things in a single test case. Should a test case fail, you’ll need to pause and manually inspect results to determine which aspect has let you down.

Ideally, you should be building test cases that focus on a single test aspect. Should a case fail, it will be far easier to determine what has gone wrong. When using automation tools, avoid designing tests to verify multiple aspects. Instead, focus on creating reusable elements that can be deployed more generally. Provided that the logic of these components fits the needs of a test, you can dramatically reduce the time required to create new test cases from scratch.

4. Using the Wrong Tools

This is an obvious one, yet many automation tests fail because the wrong tools have been selected. When choosing a suitable automation platform, you must carry out due diligence to ensure it delivers the right technical requirements.

Many projects fail because platforms are chosen with short-term goals in mind. A platform might suit the needs of a current project, but it needs to deliver long-term value and functionality. You want to avoid a situation where you’re using an established platform that’s ill-suited to the demands of a new testing project.

To be confident that you’re selecting automation tools that provide long-term value, consider which areas you may be targeting with testing in the future. This involves more than spotlighting particular technologies and applications. Instead, you should be thinking about potential scenarios and realistic test cases to inform your test automation strategy. Once you’ve anticipated all of this, it’s far easier to select an automation platform that provides you with full capability for the future.

5. Being Inflexible with Testing Order

Just as you should avoid testing too many things in a single case, so too should you avoid being too rigid with your testing strategy. When it comes to testing automation, best practice dictates that test order shouldn’t matter.

The reason for this is simple. If a test case is running many individual tests in a predefined order, a single failure will require you to run the entire case from scratch. Furthermore, any failure will require you to manually inspect data to uncover errors. This approach isn’t only inefficient, it also throws any other results into question.

To overcome this issue, avoid rigid scheduling when organising automated tests. Instead, focus on self-contained projects that will produce independent results. To increase efficiency, you should instead embrace parallel testing.

Say Farewell to Automation Failures

Overcoming automation failures may seem daunting, but you can minimise the margin for error with relatively little effort. For starters, make sure you’re using the right tools. Accessible platforms with capabilities aligned with your requirements are a must. It’s also essential that you promote collective knowledge and shared ownership of projects for continuity.

You should also avoid striving for total coverage when testing. Instead, use automation to handle repetitive tasks, freeing up skilled personnel for more taxing manual tasks. Finally, ditch rigid testing orders and embrace parallel testing to increase efficiency.

About the Author

Zoe Dromgoole is the Marketing Executive at Wood Flooring Ireland. Wood Flooring Ireland sell bespoke engineered wood flooring such as herringbone flooring. Zoe has an interest in test automation.

About the Author


Zoe Dromgoole is the Marketing Executive at Wood Flooring Ireland. Wood Flooring Ireland sell bespoke engineered wood flooring. Zoe has an interest in test automation.
Find out more about @woodflooringireland

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