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Even as the software testing industry evolves, there exists a situation what I'd call "scattered islands," in terms of differing levels of maturity and capability across the entire testing landscape. Many enterprises are deploying testing practices that require intensive time and effort, while also facing increased pressure to do more and work faster. Automation is impacting all the phases of software testing, from test planning to defect analysis and repair. And the industry has just scratched the surface.
AI-driven automation holds the potential to completely transform software testing from an end-to-end testing life cycle perspective. Let's examine the role automation is playing in software testing, as well as some of the key elements you need to understand.
Gap Between Knowledge and Action
The lack of test automation is one of the biggest bottlenecks when it comes to releasing new software to the market — most software testing is still done manually. Although enterprises are embracing Agile and DevOps approaches for faster software release cycles to meet customer expectations, 75% of the testing life cycle — especially the planning and design stages — continue to be manual and inefficient. The resultant leakage of undetected software quality issues into production and the reduced speed-to-market are costing businesses trillions of dollars.
Strangely, automation still isn't widespread in the software testing industry. A study by Kobiton found that while the majority of respondents (55%) think automating testing would be an asset to software quality, most aren't doing it. In addition, 76% of respondents manually conduct the bulk of their testing; 73% are running at least 100 tests prior to each software release manually — not automatically.
How Software Testing is Adopting Automation
To address the aforementioned issues, organizations are starting to deeply look at how they adopt assisted and automated practices across the testing life cycle — from test creation to data management and beyond. Automation is quickly becoming essential to meet customer requirements, effectively. It offers three significant benefits: faster time–to-market, improved quality and increased efficiency.
Currently, organizations are applying automation mostly in smaller doses to improve productivity and stay at par with the demands of development and release cycles. For example, they may just apply it to test execution or defect management. This stilted approach being inadequate for today's scale remains a concern.
Perhaps, some organizations are leery of full-scale automation because of the looming fear that it would cost the testers their jobs. However, automation will not curb job opportunities; it will just change them. Testing will become more about predictive rather than preventive methods. And with the agile development environment, these methods are being implemented starting with the design phase.
Organizations will conduct testing through automation tools and issues will get addressed faster. So, what roles do the testers play? They'll be able to upgrade their skills, and with their domain knowledge (the tester community have in-depth knowledge and understanding of the flow and application, even in comparison to the developer), they will become eligible for other business roles and not just IT roles.
Start Off on the Right Foot
The ultimate goal with automation is to become autonomous. Hence, it's important to understand that not all tools are created equal. Several startups have entered the market with test automation tools, some of which claim to provide up to 70% faster testing of products and applications. However, there is no tool that automates test scenario creation or provides intelligent test selection. What organizations can do is identify those areas where it makes the most sense to start introducing automation, gradually.
Having said that, organizational support is key to the whole project. Without it, projects aren't likely to succeed. It's easy to get stuck in the status quo because "that's always how we've done it". Moving to automation requires a desire for change, so it's important to be the change agent in the organization and find support before embarking on this journey.
Take the Automation Plunge
As AI becomes a key part of every industry and function, the software industry, in particular, is taking advantage of what this technology can offer. AI-based automation enables enterprises to take their software to market faster and reap unparalleled business benefits that come with agility, speed and reliability in their software release cycles. One application of this type of automation is in the area of software testing. Test automation not only relieves testers of the burden of repetitive tasks but can also perform additional testing that might not otherwise get done because it is hard to do manually.
The numbers clearly show that bugs and rework incur higher costs for organizations to maintain the status quo. Most organizations agree that automated testing would be of tremendous benefit, but many are still hesitant to embrace the needed change. This means, the early adopters will have a competitive advantage. Know your facts, find one or more champions, and start slowly. Test automation can enable you to deliver better software, faster and transform your business exponentially.