Test Automation Best Practices

Test Automation Best Practices: Regression testing (automation testing) is important when a new feature is developed for an application. The QA team tries to execute different scenarios to bring to light any flaws present in the existing codebase because including a new feature can also hamper the integrity of the existing functionalities.

But manually testing every minute feature of an application on a regular basis is not only an expensive affair but also impractical. This is why automation testing is part of every project, especially in agile projects, where testing plays an important role.

Test Automation Best Practices

To automate an application, all the QA team requires is basic coding skills and a list of test cases that need to be automated. But should automation testing be solely driven by the QA team’s technical expertise and available test cases? The answer is NO.

If not planned properly, automation testing can do more harm than good. In this article, we will discuss the different pointers that every QA team should keep in mind while aiming towards automation testing of the application.

Automation Testing at a Glance

Incorporating automation testing in the project reduces testing efforts and provides valuable time that can be utilized in other QA processes.

The following points enlist what a tester should look for while starting with automation testing.

Figuring out which test cases Need to be Automated

  • Every application, depending on its complexity, can have numerous test cases. But all of these test cases can’t be automated.
  • The test cases that are less important or rarely used in the application can be kept aside and covered as part of manual testing.
  • The tests that handle validation and comparison of big data lists should be considered for automation.
  • For example, e-commerce application price filters display products within the mentioned price range. As a huge volume of products can come under any selected range, verifying the price of each and every commodity is not logical. For this reason, verification of valid filter responses should be automated.
  • Test cases that require much time and effort to execute should also be converted into automation scripts.

Using the Right Automation Tool

  • The automation testing tool used in a project decides how stable and valuable the upcoming scripts will be.
  • There are a lot of different automation tools available in the market, and the number is rising each day. Each tool possesses a flavor and provides a distinct advantage over the other. But despite the availability of such a wide variety of tools, the QA team should choose the one that perfectly suits their needs.
  • If an automation testing tool is randomly selected, it can have disastrous consequences. Impulsively selecting an automation testing tool can not only create hurdles within short intervals but can even prove to be a roadblock for application automation in the near future.
  • Under any circumstances, the selection of the automation tool should depend on the application that needs to be automated and the preference of the QA team. Some of the criteria for selection are:
    • Technology dependence– The application’s technology and platform must be considered while selecting the automation testing tool. Is it a .Net or Java application? Such questions must be answered first to determine the application scope that needs to be covered.
    • O.S. and platform – Is this a web, mobile, or hybrid application? This answer can further aid in narrowing down the right tool for automation testing. In the case of mobile applications, the tool should be selected depending on the platform: Android, Windows, or iOS.
    • Technical skill in the team – If QA team members lack programming expertise, a tool that is easy to use and doesn’t require much coding to create scripts should be used. Under such scenarios, keyword-driven testing frameworks would be the right option.

Repetitive Testing

  • Using automation testing tools, tests can be executed without much manual intervention. So, these tests should be run frequently to reap the most benefit.
  • This will keep the application stable and prompt the QA team at an early stage if any major issues are encountered. Such early detected issues are easier and cheaper to fix than at a later stage when the build is moved to production.
  • As all the automated tests can’t be built overnight, it should be considered an incremental process. For example, once a single automation testing script is created, it should be run at least daily. With each passing day, as new scripts are created, they should also be added to the group of executable tests.
  • Web applications are generally accessed using different browsers. Every application has a list of favorite browsers. As manually testing each and every feature of the application on different browsers is a cumbersome task, such scenarios should be automated on different browsers to validate the application’s browser compatibility.

Utilization of Testing Resources

  • Time of every testing resource is precious. So, automation testing tasks should be assigned in such a fashion that, effective and quality scripts are efficiently created in short durations.
  • If few team members of the QA team have better programming knowledge, they should be involved in creating the automation testing scripts. While other testers can be involved in fabricating the test cases.
  • Once a couple of test cases are automated, the members writing the test cases can go through the code and take the other team members’ help to understand the code’s logic.
  • As the number of automation testing increases, so will the knowledge transfer, and gradually most of the QA team would have a decent understanding of the coding practice to follow while creating such scripts.

Creating Quality Test Data

  • Most automation deal with data inputs from the users. In order to successfully automate such applications, choosing the right set of test data is very important.
  • The test data that are used to automate different scenarios should closely resemble the data used by clients after each release or by dummy users during user acceptance testing.
  • Such test data should be requested from the client in order to add further value to the automated tests.
  • If getting such data from the client is not a viable option, external data should be used from different sources. Different inputs for each field can be mapped in an external excel sheet, which in turn would be utilized by the automation script.
  • Such practice would create well-structured data and help test each field against different sets of data. The sooner such test data is created, the better.

UI Independent Automation Testing

  • In almost every project, one or the other UI component is affected due to changes made in every build. Such changes not only make the automation script unstable but also call for maintenance.
  • If a project has short release cycles, UI dependent automation scripts can be majorly affected, and fixing them can require ample QA effort. The best bet is to focus on automation scripts that don’t rely on the application’s UI.
  • Testing the database entries and the application’s interaction with the back-end through automation is one such way. If the application used any APIs, the response can be validated against a set of requests.

Proper Automation Planning

  • When the QA team has selected the automation tool, they should start creating a test plan for automation.
  • Even though automation adds a lot of value and improves the testing efficiency of the project, if not planned well, automated tests would not be beneficial.
  • The project goals should be kept in mind while planning the automation scripts.
  • As shown above, a value vs effort graph can be really helpful to find out the tests that need to be automated first.
  • The graph shows two curves. The tip of the red curve depicts the automation scripts which has high value and takes less effort to create, and the end signifies the scripts that have low value and high effort.
  • In the case of the green curve, it’s starting point shows the script which has less value and takes less effort, while the end of the curve shows the tests which would take a considerable amount of effort to automate, but would be of high value.
  • Once the value and effort required to create automation testing scripts are figured out, the high value, low effort scripts should be automated first. This will ensure that the major functionalities are automated and tested often from an early stage.


  • The right automation testing tool should be selected after considering the technology and platform the application works on.
  • Only those tests should be considered for automation testing that adds value to the project and reduces manual efforts.
  • All automation tests must be run daily, in order to trace issues at the earliest.
  • QA team should properly plan the automation testing tasks among team members and prioritize tests that need to be automated.

I love open-source technologies and am very passionate about software development. I like to share my knowledge with others, especially on technology that's why I have given all the examples as simple as possible to understand for beginners. All the code posted on my blog is developed, compiled, and tested in my development environment. If you find any mistakes or bugs, Please drop an email to softwaretestingo.com@gmail.com, or You can join me on Linkedin.

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