When should we automate tests

Posted by Aditya Chourasiya on Wed 26 January 2022

This article is gist of brainstorming session among Quality Assurance (QA) team.

Automation is advised when tests are prone to human error or complex or if they need repeating, reporting , execution speed and off course fetch good return on investment.

On the contrary, test cases for aesthetics, accessibility, one-time, urgent non-regression(hotfixes), exploratory, with unpredictable results and/or with less return on investment, should not be automated.

Navigating the Future

Let's dive in reasons and examples

These are few reasons to automate (not in order)

  • Repeating - Apart from typical regression suite this will include running large number of tests, multi platform, multi browser, performance tests, overnight tests or tests with big set of data.
  • Critical path - If the user action sequence / path or application function is critical to your business, it's recommended to automate.
  • Prone to human error - large number of data fields, complex technical steps like Database test, Security tests should be automated.
  • Reporting - Legal, audit, low confidence or high stake tests should be automated for reporting and logs.
  • Execution speed - parallel and automated execution can help run all sort of test much faster, however planning, automation, triage may take more time depending on type of tests.
  • Return on investment - While there is no exact number, as a rule of thumb anytime you're saving more money with automation, you should.

These are few reasons not to automate (not in order)

  • Aesthetics - User experience , look and feel, colour and images verification require complex human context and interpretation.
  • Accessibility - Similar to aesthetics, accessibility, usability, language, grammar, etc should be verified manually
  • One-time - Urgent non-regression hotfix, non-critical, or very small changes can/may be manually verified
  • Unpredictable results - Exploratory, time delay tests, random tests can/will rely on manual execution
  • Inadequate return on investment - Automated test for short lived products, small scale development, duplicate tests should be avoided

Summary and invite

While ability and enthusiasm to automate is important, it is more important to know when to automate and avoid gold plating. I will link the video for discussion in next commit. Thank you for reading. Please feel free to submit a pull request to suggest any changes.