State of Test Automation: Trends and Priorities for 2023
April 18, 2023

Stephen Feloney
Perforce Software

As consumers increasingly rely on digital channels, DevOps teams who lack proper testing parameters will experience costly failures. Consider Ticketmaster's now infamous web and mobile crashes during the Taylor Swift Eras Tour sale, as an example, which resulted in lawsuits and senate hearings over the complications, signaling the imperative need for better testing approaches.

To understand the ever-changing testing landscape, we surveyed hundreds of DevOps professionals for our fourth annual 2023 State of Test Automation report. This year's report sought to uncover the top testing trends, developer challenges, and priorities for the future. Here are the top four insights and takeaways.

1. Resource challenges hinder automation adoption

Developers navigate the complexity of software builds and projects often under tight timelines. With the rapid growth of software development, teams increasingly turn to test automation to complete tasks in a timely, efficient manner.

The survey found that 36% of developers view manual testing as the most time-consuming activity in a test cycle. Yet, 22% of developers cite a lack of available resources as one of the top test automation challenges, with limited support to implement proper testing into their strategies.

Developers need ways to quickly generate environments, create test data (positive and negative), and focus on the component or service they need to test. This is just one reason why shift-left testing isn't as ubiquitous as it should be.

In 2023, practitioners and agile teams must better justify, measure, and showcase the benefits of test automation to leaders — proving its ROI through greater test automation maturity, reduction in manual testing costs, and developer productivity gains.

2. Test coverage improvements grow in importance

Over the next six to 12 months, improving test coverage will be a top priority for teams (18%). Everything from test requirements to different user scenarios will be evaluated to measure testing efforts' effectiveness and ensure defects are found before they reach users.

Even though continuous testing/delivery/deployment have been considered best practices for over a decade, many companies are finally getting to that release cadence. The speed of releases dictates a change in how groups know when an application or code is ready for release. Test coverage is one metric that is needed to make the release decision (whether that is manual or automated).

3. Non-functional testing remains top of mind

Traditional testing measures fail to prioritize areas like performance, security and accessibility until it reaches the late stages of development. In worst-case scenarios, teams can put the platform at risk for vulnerabilities by waiting to test until an error occurs. The report reinforced the importance that developers must evolve the testing lifecycle by shifting testing left to identify errors and weaknesses early, ultimately avoiding unanticipated and unwanted issues.

One-third (32%) of respondents stated that expanding shift-left testing across more non-functional capabilities will remain critical to broadening API, performance, and application security testing.

Going further, it's important to stop talking about these forms of testing (performance, security, accessibility) as "non-functional."

By saying it this way, we undervalue these types of tests, thus giving them less priority. Most users won't see a difference between an app functioning, being performant, and securing their data. If the app isn't accessible to the user trying to use it, is it functioning? If any one of those fail, it's a big problem for the user.

4. Low-code/no-code investments capture developer interest

Organizations must continue investing in tools that can be easily used by entire teams, regardless of an individual's coding knowledge and experience. Solutions such as low-code/no-code are rising in popularity for these reasons across the testing landscape.

Given the interest in behavior-driven development (BDD) tools and scriptless automation options, it's no surprise that 43% of developers have codeless frameworks top of mind. Leveraging codeless tools allows agile teams to see improvements in test speed and quality, while also embracing automation on an accessible level for teammates with varying degrees of skill. To create holistic testing strategies, teams must be able to collaborate, and using low-code/no-code will allow developers and testing teams to work closely together without stumbling over roadblocks that may come with traditional tools.

What's next for test automation?

Over the next year, expect to see increased interest in solving the lack of automation resource challenges, improving test coverage, focusing on non-functional testing, and embracing low-code/no-code solutions. The most agile organizations will consider what support and investments are needed to drive short and long-term success to scale test automation and mature their testing strategies.

Optimizing for testing excellence will only grow in importance as industries strive to deliver the best outcomes for customers, partners, and stakeholders — moving away from manual testing activities and embracing test automation will play a pivotal role in organizational success. Are you ready?

Stephen Feloney is VP of Products - Continuous Testing at Perforce Software
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