Crash Course: How to Choose the Right Test Automation Tool

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Software testing is changing at lighting speed as companies look for faster, more efficient and more comprehensive ways to track and test their software application cycles, particularly in time sensitive Agile and DevOps environments.

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Increasingly, the model software engineers are using to handle software tracking procedures is Test Automation. As automation becomes the software development standard for revenue-minded companies, regular testing is required to make sure productivity and security activities are above board.

Yet even with the ascension of DevOps and Agile software operating models, automatic testing has lagged in recent years, and that’s a big problem. Data from the National Institute of Standards and Technology notes that software breaches and bugs cost U.S. businesses $59.5 billion annually, and one-third of that cost could be easily curbed or eliminated through robust software testing.

The good news? That scenario is changing quickly. The same report shows that 44% of companies expecting to automate 50% or more of their software testing activities going forward.

Companies that are moving in that forward direction cite the “higher quality and faster” workflow generated by automatic testing.

Companies that have embraced automatic testing also cite the following benefits of so-called “Dev-Testing”:

  • Faster testing cycles (88% of respondents)
  • Improved testing coverage (71% of respondents)
  • The ability to catch software bugs earlier (68% of respondents.)


Data shows that automated tests, on average, run at speeds that are at least five times faster than traditional manual software testing.

Plus, by unleashing automation on software process testing, engineers and analysts can re-run those tests over the next testing cycle, and gain more information and expand testing comprehensiveness in the process.

In contrast, manual software testing limits the amount of process defects that you’ll actually find, especially those subtle defects that can derail a software development cycle, and delay product and service releases as a result. With manual tracking, software test cycles are longer, more expensive, and more fraught with risk, as traditional software testing isn’t nearly as thorough as automated testing.

Return-on-investment-wise, industry data shows that companies that make a full commitment to automated software testing over manual testing programs can boost testing from 1,350 hours to 5,985 equivalent hours and gained $315,000 worth of testing per month – for the same price they’ve been shelling out for manual software application testing.

Choosing the Best Test Automation Tools

With those DevTest benefits so pervasive, it’s no wonder so many organizations are ready to roll on automatic testing. Once the decision is made to go forward, however, a lager one looms.

How can companies choose the best automation tools that meet their unique needs? Start your DevTesting experience with these actions steps:

Start with team-building. The old silo-based testing approach to software data tracking won’t won (and shouldn’t) work in this, the automation age.

That’s because automation works best in a collaborative software testing environment. Consequently, company decision makers must build automation testing teams that go beyond the limits of the software department.

As automation testing requires an abundance of planning and management, a team of software developers, software testing engineers, customer specialists, logistics managers, marketing managers, and other C-level personnel, with one decision-maker (preferably the information technology director) serving as the point of command.

What Tests Should You Be Automating?

After you’ve assembled a team and have company-wide buy in for your automated software testing program, job one is to figure out what company software cases to automate.

That process begins with assigning goals and objectives to your newly-minted automated testing program, what you can afford to budget for that program, and what processes you prefer to follows.

You’ll want to shape your goals and objectives outlook that results in a higher results-oriented testing outcome.

Creating a feasibility analysis, either on your own through your IT team or through an outside tech consultant, can tell you under what conditions it’s either optimal or even necessary to automate your software testing models. These test cases, do far, are undergoing the most corporate scrutiny.

Regression testing. Companies that have already begun automated software testing programs have had significant success by targeting their automated efforts on regression testing, where a specific test process already exists and would shift easily to an automate testing mode. That alone makes regressive test cases as “exhibit A” for automated testing.

High-risk and high-priority software testing. High-risk testing needs would also drive any automated testing decisions on the stakeholder level. With higher-risk and higher-priority software testing programs, failure is never an option. Consequently, they should be an early focus of any company-wide automated software testing program.

Time-sensitive testing cases. Since time is always a commodity in business, it’s also advisable to run automated tests on any complicated and time-prohibitive tests, since the human capital and cost benefits are so high with automated testing compared to manual testing.

Repetitive testing. The same can be said for repetitive testing models, where it takes a great deal of time to run the same data testing processes manually. The money and time saved on repetitive testing also makes automated testing a popular choice among companies that have already harnessed the power of automated software application testing.

Selecting Your Automated Testing Tools

Now that you’ve got a collaborative team on the ground and your automated testing project goals in place, it’s time to choose the automation tools best suited for your project.

Expedite that process by checking off these items from your automated testing tools process:

  • What’s the level of your automation task team? What’s their skill level and what are they requiring? Are they capable of “hitting the ground running” when you shift from manual software testing and automated testing?
  • What’s your budget for a good automation testing toolkit? Cost benefits are abundant with automated testing. One industry data source shows that an automated testing implementation can cut cost-per-hour levels from $78 per hour down with manual testing to $17 per hour with automated testing.

Note that automated test tools can be purchased on a one-time basis, as part of a free trial offer, as a monthly or annual subscription, or as a one-time licensing charge.)

  • Will the tools meet your unique testing requirements? Is it adaptable to the software you’re running and does it work well with all of your coding tools and objects?
  • Can you run a “free trial test” to see if the testing toolkit works for your company? Any company that doesn’t offer a free trial run should be avoided – any reputable testing provider should make a trial run available.
  • Does the automated testing toolkit support all testing types? Ideally, you’ll want an automated testing toolset that accommodates multiple software tests, such as regression testing, unit testing, and functional testing, for example. Any automated software testing toolset should also offer basic task management, graphical interface, manual testing integration, and test scripting features.

Additionally, you’ll want to make sure that the automated testing vendor offers at least an up-front training service along with easy access to technology services reps who can answer your automated testing developers questions during the implementation, rollout, and management phases.

The Takeaway on Choosing the Best Automated Software Testing Tools

Like any high-level software investment, selecting the best automated testing tools depends on the “usually suspects: that come into play in corporate decision-making processes.

Planning, cost-evaluation, feasibility studies, team-building, and old-fashioned tire-kicking, if implemented, should pave the way for a smooth automated software testing investment.

Toss into the mix the human knowledge you already have on hand in your IT department and the experiences you’ve had that demonstrate the limits of manual, and the groundwork is already laid for a successful automated software testing campaign.

Use the action steps listed above to get that campaign off the ground – with a successful outcome in your company’s short-term software management future.

About the Author

Guljeet Nagpaul is a contributing writer and the Chief Product Officer at AccelQ, the only cloud-based continuous testing platform that seamlessly automates API and web testing without writing a single line of code.