What is test automation and how can it boost your business?

What is test automation?

Test automation is the process through which an information system is tested by an application or a test robot instead of a human to find errors that need to be fixed. The application uses a specific brief or “script” to automate repetitive processes or testing tasks which are otherwise difficult to perform manually.

An information system error could refer to everything from faulty features, malfunctions, disruptions, maintenance breaks or other IT issues. These repetitive or sporadic failures can significantly impair business processes, customer experience and business performance. In rare cases, critical malfunctions could even endanger life, health, property or confidential information.

Testing helps identify and fix design and implementation errors in complex system entities before their widespread use. And nothing matches the speed and accuracy of programmed artificial intelligence (AI) when it comes to testing.

Automation can complete 20 tests in the same amount of time that a software application tester takes to run a single test.

Additionally, smart and self-learning AI does not make ‘human errors’. The speed and quality of the feedback loop at work too gets better — the quicker the test automation feedback, the faster flaws are fixed leading to optimal productivity.

Case in point is one of our clients who previously tested their critical information systems three to four times a year, which meant they could not update the system’s features more than a few times a year. Today, test automation allows the company to test three to four times a week. As a result, the business is constantly updating itself with new features on-demand or within days.

“Automation can complete 20 tests in the same amount of time that a software application tester takes to run a single test.“

Test automation as part of business strategy and product development

The success of any business depends on the smooth operation of information systems. Faulty or malfunctioning software can have an adverse impact on the lives of millions of people at once. Imagine what would happen if Google Maps were to display wrong routes for even half an hour! Although not everyone realizes it, test automation is a crucial part of business strategy and product development.

Effective test automation can accelerate business and keep it competitive — new, tested products can be introduced to the market every week.

If that sounds exciting to you, then you are in the right place! But first you need to think about what you want to achieve by harnessing the power of test automation.

Is your primary goal to

  • ensure quality in all situations?
  • achieve comprehensive and error-free testing?
  • save money by reducing testing time and workload?
  • speed up the process?

Your end goal will help in customizing the test automation application to suit your business needs.

Why choose test automation?

Fast software release cycles are almost impossible to manage without test automation. Manual testing is too slow to keep up with agile software development. When it comes to verification, validation and integration of software, manual testing can be cumbersome and even prove impossible over time.

On an average, testing consumes 30-40 percent of a company's IT development costs. It is also becoming increasingly clear that manual testing is not adequate to verify the functioning of complex ecosystems. This makes testing a major bottleneck in software development. It is no wonder than that test automation is becoming more important than ever.

“Effective test automation can accelerate business and keep it competitive — new, tested products can be introduced to the market every week.“

What are the benefits of test automation?

One of the obvious benefits of test automation is that it works out almost always cheaper and faster than a manual tester, especially when you have to run a large number of tests quite frequently. Test automation applications or machines are always available to work — they don’t take breaks, fall sick or have a busy schedule!

At its weakest, test automation is three times faster than humans and at its strongest, up to 100 times faster and undoubtedly more accurate. Artificial intelligence eliminates errors that humans inevitably make.

Testausautomaatio on heikoimmillaan kolme kertaa ihmistä nopeampi, vahvimmillaan jopa 100 kertaa nopeampi. Ja aina tarkempi. Tekoäly karsii inhimilliset virheet, joita ihmisille syntyy väistämättä.

Read also: Test automation ensures agile development

All this makes test automation a more efficient, comprehensive and cost-effective solution. Another major benefit of test automation is that it allows for quicker testing of newer versions which in turn speeds up the process of feedback.

The quicker you get information, the faster you can fix issues and go into production.

Apart from being able to handle new changes, test automation also has the ability to review new updates against older ones to present a much clearer big picture.

All these advantages bring up one of the most important questions around test automation — how important is human contribution when testing can be fully automated?

The answer however remains that there will always be a need for skilled workers as machines are not capable of doing absolutely everything yet. Currently, humans are superior to machines in two areas of testing — test design and user experience evaluation.

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How quickly does test automation pay off?

With projects varying in nature and duration, the costs can vary too. However, a good rule of thumb is that test automation is not worth it if you plan to repeat the test less than 10 times.

On the other hand, businesses can be overly optimistic about their product and service and often underestimate the number of tests they need — results are rarely achieved in just one or even three test attempts.

Since building a test automation process requires the use of different tools, the tests have to be repeated frequently to reap the full benefits of automation.

In Qentinel’s history, at its fastest, test automation has paid off in three weeks.

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How much does test automation cost?

The primary costs of test automation include the cost of purchasing and maintaining automation technology created for testing, designing and maintaining the test, along with analyzing and reporting test results.

We often come across the idea that once automated, testing should be free. Unfortunately, this is not the reality. It is important to remember that while tools automate much of the work, human resources are still needed to at least maintain the tests.

“The quicker you get information, the faster you can fix issues and go into production.“

When do you need test automation?

Test automation is undoubtedly useful when you need quick feedback and multiple test iterations. Anything that requires external dependencies, or that occurs at a regular and accelerating pace is worth automating. Test automation is also a great solution when the time taken to do the tests is an important factor — such as in product development.

Automating the testing of maintenance changes and version upgrade deployment is also recommended. A classic example is SAP system updates. Often, when end-users from a company who are allocated to do the test gather at the agreed time to do so, the upgrade is not found ready for testing. Sometimes, tests have such fundamental flaws that they are no longer worth performing. Myös ylläpitoa koskevien muutosten testaus kannattaa automatisoida, samoin versiopäivitysten käyttöönottotestaus.

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Test automation reduces workload

Like SAP, all enterprise core systems such as Oracle, Salesforce, Temenos, Guidewire and Epic have in common a complex information system, huge data volumes, a large number of users and numerous integrations with other systems. They also have customised data models and business processes to suit different customers. As a result, successful deployment is not always guaranteed — a failed deployment could prove very expensive for the business.

The company’s IT professionals are also burdened with a growing number of tests. In different interdependent information systems, one can never be sure how a single change can affect the system as a whole. In such cases, test automation has the capacity to spot potential flaws and fix them much faster than any human can.

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When is test automation not the right solution?

Automation is just a part of the software development chain — if only one part is in good condition, it is highly unlikely that automation could improve the overall performance.

As we at Qentinel say, "If you automate a bad process, all you have is a bad automatic process!”

Moreover, automation is still not too easy or cheap today, which makes it an effective solution only when a large number of tests have to be performed at a high frequency.

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What are the risks associated with test automation?

As with any technology, there are certain risks associated with test automation. You could select the wrong automation technology at the beginning of the project or use an application which is unable to scale up with future business growth and needs, becoming outdated. Lack of understanding about testing usually sets up wrong expectations and causes issues.

It is also risky to build an automation solution which is dependent on specific people or experts — what happens if they change jobs or retire? It is however good to note that automation does not replace humans fully, although it does reduce the number of people required for the task. It can in fact, raise the required skill levels of those on the job. Which could mean that the company has to invest more time and effort in recruiting and training new specialized talent.

We have witnessed this scenario in the world of industrial production — automation has eliminated a large number of people from production lines, but has increased the number of automation experts needed.

“What if users could only test the application once after which the process is automated?“

What kind of technology does test automation need?

There are various types of test automation technology. At the minimum, you need a software tool called a test executor that performs tests on your behalf.

There are several intelligent applications that provide test automation — some are based on open source, some are free and some are paid.

When you start out, you can choose to:

  1. practice with a free program, for which you need a basic understanding of the subject.
  2. use a trial or affordable version of commercial tools.

With time, both options can produce results, but note that the lightest or cheapest models is rarely scalable for large-scale usage. This is the primary difference between free and large-scale test automation.

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Qentinel Pace — the next-generation AI platform

Qentinel Pace is a cloud-based, next-generation artificial intelligence platform that revolutionizes software testing by eliminating the most common quality assurance challenges — slow feedback cycles, high maintenance costs, lack of scalability and zero visibility.

Unleash the potential of robotic test automation with Qentinel Pace — a scalable, low-maintenance and productive solution.

Apart from accelerating the speed and frequency of product releases, Qentinel Pace also provides a comprehensive view of DevOps functionality and quality through proactive analytics. It offers easy maintenance and comprehensive testing even in the most complex of environments.

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quality of test automation

How to identify high-quality and functional test automation?

Test autiomation is of good quality if the automation in itself works. Test automation needs maintenance to work, so the amount of time, energy and resources required to maintain it is a good indicator of high-quality and functional test automation.

The scalability of the test automation also plays a significant role. The current test automation should be able to keep up with growing testing needs and be scalable to larger integrated systems.

Ei tule myöskään vähätellä sitä, pitävätkö käyttäjät sovelluksesta vai eivät, sillä nimestään huolimatta automaatio ei toimi ilman ihmistä. 

The application should be user-friendly too — despite its name, automation will not work without a human being. A user-friendly application frees up about 40% of our clients’ working hours in a month for other tasks.

How would you use that extra time to develop your business?

“A user-friendly application frees up about 40% of our clients’ working hours in a month for other tasks.“

Where and when to use test automation?

Test automation is an ideal solution when tests need to be repeated frequently, but major changes are rarely made. It is recommended to start small, learn through experience and increase the degree of automation over time. However, automation solutions that start out cheap and convenient won’t necessarily scale up easily for large-scale use.
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Who leads test automation management?

In test automation, both the testing and the tool that is used for it are managed by the team. The people responsible for the technology should have a background in system architectures and can takes responsibility for the business-centric software tools. They should also be capable of seeing board eanough view to make informed decisions as to how test work should be done. Actual testing is best led by a project manager, a testing manager or a business manager.

The results of the test is directly affected by how well the test is conducted. The process of running the test automation also has an impact on the overall cost.

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How to choose the right test automation partner?

When you are looking for an ideal test partner, it is important to consider:

  1. how much time can be spent on testing
  2. how widely do you want to test
  3. how often do you want to test

Are you looking for a partner who:

  1. is a technology vendor
  2. implements automation as a service
  3. supports your own test efforts
  4. acts as a resource to work with if you run the project by yourself

Once you understand your needs, finding the right partner to build and implement your test automation is easier. A trustworthy partner with a long-term vision can be an asset to your business.

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Qentinel offers a solutions that meets your needs

Do you want to handle the testing and its automation by yourself or do you want to buy automation as a service?

No matter what your need, Qentinel Pace test automation platform enables you to have a solution exactly according to your needs. You can choose to fully automate testing with our tools, purchase test automation as a service Qentinelilta or automate by yourself with our support and training.

We will be happy to evaluate your business and offer our expertise on the steps you could take to get started with test automation. A well-planned roadmap right at the start can go a long way in ensuring that your business has the ability to scale up in the right direction.

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