"By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail." Ever heard this one before? It's pretty widely applicable, and in the case of test automation, if you don't have a proper strategy in place, automation isn't going to work for you. There are several consequences that can befall you as a result of a lack of strategy. But never fear, because we will provide you with some steps to get you started!
It's near impossible to succeed with test automation without a defined strategy (if you've managed this, I would love to interview you), and there are several issues that can stem from not having one. Even if you're using manual testing, a testing strategy is vital, so consider these possible consequences of not having one:
Have you ever had a fit of inspiration to get your productivity going, so you run out and buy the perfect planner along with some colored pens, only to run out of steam a few weeks in? Then the only way to fix your problem is… buying a new planner! The same thing can happen with testing tools if you don't have a plan in place on how to use them most effectively (says the person with four, partially-used planners in their desk).
The point is that if you use a tool arbitrarily to solve your testing problem without a strategy and a plan to build good habits, you're going to cycle through tools thinking that the next one will be the one to make all your testing dreams come true when in reality, you need to sit down and hash out a plan (we'll get to the steps of building your strategy later on).
A lack of strategy will make it easier for bugs to slip through the cracks and into your production environment. A watertight testing tool and plan will help catch bugs in your testing environment instead and keep your costs down as well. Bugs that make it into production can cost your business 10-15% of operations, while a solid testing process and good tool can significantly lower those costs.
It's the nature of the software beast to grow, and everyone wants to produce an app that will become known and have a loyal user base. However, as an application scales up, testing needs to scale up too. This is even harder if you've put the burden of testing on your development team (which we dive into later). Just because the DevOps team adds more features to the app, that doesn't mean that the testing team magically has more time to test, and adding extra people to the testing team is a costly solution. A strategy paired with a scalable automation tool will ensure that testing won't become an obstacle to growing your application.
Alright, now that you know what could happen as a result of not having a strategy, here are some steps to get you started on building your own!
This one might seem like a no-brainer, but it's 2023 and there are still companies that have their developers testing their own code. The primary reason that devs should not test their own application is that they are not able to test through the eyes of a user. They know how their application works, so their tests would not be from the perspective of someone who has never used the app before and therefore not a true reflection of the user experience.
A testing strategy will start broad and get narrower the further you go along, and the widest point is defining the overall goal of your testing. It should be clear and measurable. All steps that come after should point back to this goal, even if it's as straightforward as simply automating your most business-critical tests.
This is a highly critical part of your strategy. Your requirements are more narrowed and detailed than your goal, dealing with deciding on your KPIs and categorizing what kinds of test journeys you need to run. For example, if you're an eCommerce business, your requirements should focus on testing item searches and checkout journeys.
This is just a sneak peek at the kinds of things you should be focusing on when building up your test automation strategy. Whether you're switching from manual to automated testing or you don't have a defined strategy, we have a free ebook for you!
Download "Test Automation Adoption: Doing The Right Thing In The Right Way" to kickstart the development of your testing strategy.