9-step success formula for small QA teams to switch from manual to automated testing in 2021

Do you or your team currently test manually and trying to break into test automation? In this article, we outline how can small QA teams make transition from manual to codeless testing to full fledged automated testing. The transition will not happen overnight but can be successfully achieved much easier than anticipated.


1 – Say no to mundane repetitive manual testing

Your willingness to say no to mundane and boring repetitive manual testing is the first real step towards automated testing! As a team you need to acknowledge that manual testing is haunted by repetitiveness and is error prone. Any team will eventually get bogged down by doing the same thing over and over again impacting team motivation. Some teams will overcome this challenge by automating small bits and pieces of repetitive work. For example, a script to import test data into a database, a utility to generate random test data, etc.

2 – Know impediments to switch to automated testing

Once you acknowledge as a team that you need to move to automated testing, the next step is to know what is stopping your team from making this move. In most cases, it is the fear of complexities involved in automation ie., learning programming. “Can we learn a new programming language and implement a successful test automation project?” are the kind of questions that come to mind. To allay such fears, teams should start small and pick the right tools that suit their testing needs. For example, think before picking a tool that does not work well with iFrames if your application is using iFrames heavily, or start to build out a test automation framework if your team doesn’t have any automation experience, etc.

3 – Start simple and small but make it successful

A good beginning is half the job done. It is very important to pick the simple and small test cases when your team is new to automated testing. Pick the test cases that you manually test very often but are easy to test. Simple and small test cases are easy to automate, debug, maintain and reuse. Don’t go crazy with automation and start with most time taking or complex ones first or you will make your beginning harder and reduce your chances of success. For example, start with a simple login test case, creating a user, etc.

4 – Pick the right tools and frameworks

Making the process easier for your team to adopt is the key to success. It will be easier when you choose combination of tools and frameworks. Yes, you heard it right! It has to be combination of tools. You can no longer rely on one single tool to get success on your test automation. Selenium execution will probably be the foundation as it is the most popular and convenient tool to use with different programming languages. Start with codeless testing tools built on top of Selenium. Codeless testing tools could cover most of your simple to medium complex manual tests.

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5 – Learn and practice programming

Pick up the programming language that your team is most comfortable with. Codeless testing might be able to cover most of your manual testing but for complex steps or tests, you would need to write scripts. Learning is not enough, you should put your learning to practice to understand and write good code. But do not go deep where you cannot stand. Remember as a team, your goal is to ensure quality of the software by automating repetitive manual tests.

6 – Be very clear on what to automate

Your team has to prioritize which tests to automate. Just because you have this new-found knowledge of automated testing, does not mean it should be applied to everything — in fact, it is impossible to automate all tests, and many things are better off being done manually. Trying to automate complex and less often used tests is a formula for failure and is not worth your team’s effort. Here is where your manual and exploratory testing skills should be put to use whenever a new feature is released.  Run risk analysis to determine parts of your application that should be automated. In addition you will have to pay attention to details like if your application is web based, you will want to create a list of the browsers and devices that are going to be essential to your particular test suite.

7 – Zero tolerance to unreliable automated tests

Just like, as manual testers, you refuse to be content with failing tests, you should not tolerate automated tests that pass at times and fail at other times. Unreliable tests will lose your team’s confidence and is a stepping stone for failure. As an example, if there is a failure in the initial steps of a lengthy test case, you can not be sure if there’s no bug beyond that step. Such uncertainties will be bad for team morale and make the whole automation effort less fruitful.

8 – Do not neglect team collaboration

Successful outcomes for any project are guaranteed by a collaborative team. It is no different for test automation. All your team’s automated tests have to be in a single repository accessible anytime & anywhere. A change log indicating who made change to which test case for traceability and accountability should always exist. The tool you pick should allow for collaboration and also make it easier to categorize, tag, sort and filter the 100’s of tests that you would have created over time.

9 – Get the fundamentals right

Do not forget the testing fundamentals. Whether it is manual or automated testing, testing concepts and fundamentals always apply. Refer these articles to understand the fundamentals of test automation

Automated testing might seem daunting when you start, but all it really takes is a consistent effort to make it a success. Continuous learning and practice using your resources will help. Take comfort in knowing that even the experts don’t know it all. No matter how good an automation engineer you become, there’s always more to learn.

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