Setting Up Test Automation for Success – The Right Test Cases to Automate

As any software developer can attest to, time is a precious commodity, and as much as we may want to put our personal stamp on each step of the development process, sometimes you have to take a step back and allow the machines to take over for a little while. Running automated testing software on a regular basis is the only way to meet the demands of the increasingly hectic schedules and release timetables in today’s software game.

A reliable automated test is especially important for organizations that have outsourced sections of the development team. In an agile development environment, team members need access to constant progress updates to make sure they have all the relevant information regarding a project, including any bugs that might be lurking in the code. Having a quality assurance department in another country or continent can make that a difficult prospect, and businesses can’t afford to have development come to a screeching halt because their testers are still asleep half the world away. Automated test management tools can give developers the updates they need when a real-life tester is indisposed or unavailable. Still, it’s important to make sure that these programs are effectively catching defects and reporting the right metrics, because otherwise, what value is it providing?

Getting the most out of test automation

Many software testing experts agree that getting the most out of your automated testing application begins by choosing the right test cases to automate. Quality assurance teams can’t automate every testing process, so they might have to make some tough choices deciding which test cases make the cut. Generally, it’s better to automate the test cases that need to be run the most often or require a lot of data or resources to operate.

QA veteran and Software Testing Help contributor Shilpa Chatterjee Roy recommended that QA managers utilize automation with test cases that deal with large volumes of complex data or need to be carried out by various users. Teams should also look for the following criteria when choosing to automate a test case:

  • Any test cases that have easily measurable and objective results
  • Processes that don’t require customized controls or any kind of improvisation
  • Any test that would require a large amount of time and effort to be conducted manually

Choosing the right test approach

Once the quality assurance team has its test cases lined up for automation, it’s time to choose the approach that’s right for the organization. There are several formats for QA managers to choose from when launching an automated test, each with different strengths to consider.

Software Testing Genius outlined two of the most notable examples of automated test approaches:

  • Keyword-driven testing – Many companies like this approach because it gets non-IT members involved in the testing process. Employees build a set of keywords and data tables that describe automated test actions in a language that those without advanced computer science degrees can understand.
  • Data-driven testing – QA teams looking to streamline their test maintenance duties will find a lot to like with this methodology. Instead of hard-coding data into the test scripts themselves, data-driven testing stores that information in a separate file that can be used to test the entire range of values. It also protects the test script from any changes that might occur with the data.
About the Author


As the VP of Client Service for Zephyr, Sanjay brings over 15 years of leadership experience in IT and Technical Support Services. Throughout his career, Sanjay has successfully established and grown premier IT and Support Services teams across multiple geographies for both large and small companies. Most recently, he was Associate Vice President at Patni Computers (NYSE: PTI) responsible for the Telecoms IT Managed Services Practice where he established IT Operations teams supporting Virgin Mobile, ESPN Mobile, Disney Mobile and Carphone Warehouse. Prior to this Sanjay was responsible for Global Technical Support at Bay Networks, a leading routing and switching vendor, which was acquired by Nortel. Sanjay has also held management positions in Support Service organizations at start-up Silicon Valley Networks, a vendor of Test Management software, and SynOptics.
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