Why Your Test Automation Approach May be Ineffective And How You Can Fix It by@mikkelsorseth

Why Your Test Automation Approach May be Ineffective And How You Can Fix It

Mikkel Sørseth HackerNoon profile picture

Mikkel Sørseth

MSc student av Copenhagen Business School, working in the RPA and test automation industry.

Test automation has for a long time been synonymous with programming. Why? Because the majority of available test automation frameworks and tools require some level of programming. These tools are developed with a programming mindset, similar to the way that operating systems before Windows 95 were developed - without a visual interface that helped users interact with it. 

An example of a test automation tool that requires strong coding skills is Selenium. Although it works  across many browsers and operating systems, programming skills are required in order to set up automation flows.

But not all testers know how to program. And not all of those who does are good at it. In this sense, test automation is a bit of a paradox: test automation, which was supposed to free up resources for testers, now requires those same testers to spend their time on learning how to program in order to automate their tests. 

Managers who view testing as a simple task and think programming can be done by “copying and pasting” existing samples from the web, do arguably have a faulty approach to automation.

An undesired outcome of this approach can be poorly scripted automation cases that are fragile, hard to troubleshoot, hard to re-use and impossible to update when the tested system changes. When the tests turn red after a change in the software, the testers risk re-scripting entire testing suites. And the testers are met with skeptical eyes for coding such unstable tests. 

It is a dysfunctional process because testers spend substantial amounts of time doing (potentially bad) programming. 

The solution to this problem lies in a change of mindset: testers are not programmers (and they shouldn’t have to be). Testers’ time is best spent on exploratory testing and evaluating user experiences - not on writing code.

So how can this mindset be changed? And how can businesses ensure that their employees skill sets are used to the fullest, and that they can focus on what they are best at? The answer lies in the tool. By implementing an easy-to-use testing tool with a visual interface, test automation becomes time and cost efficient. Here, low-code tools (e.g. UiPath or Blueprism) will get you a long way. The same goes for no-code tools (LEAPWORK), which are rapidly gaining popularity. They shorten the learning curve and make set-up and maintenance of automation flows far more manageable for everyone on the testing team.

There are several tools on the market with a visual approach to designing test cases, but a word of caution: Most of them are in fact based on programming disguised by a very superficial layer of visualization. So make informed decisions before investing in any automation tool.