Top 3 Reasons Test Automation Projects Fail

At this point, many of us understand the benefits of test automation. It reduces manual repetitive testing over the life cycle of our application, reduces defects, and increases the quality of our code.

So why isn’t everyone doing it? Well, test automation projects don’t always succeed. For some, these projects are abandoned as the effort to automate becomes too great. For others, improper test automation can result in hard-to-maintain test suites that add little value. Either way, teams sometimes fall back on their tried and true methods of manual testing.

Although that can be disappointing, all is not lost. With the right knowledge, your team can build a robust and valuable test suite. But in order to succeed, we need to first understand why they often fail.

In this post, we’ll look at three reasons why test automation projects fail and what we can do about them.

Forgetting Agile in Test Automation

Though many of us spend time working on agile principles when programming our application, we forget to use the same principles when developing our test suite. And that’s because many of us still see testing as an afterthought.

<AWhat can we do to change that? Instead of an afterthought, we need to look at our automated tests as a critical part of our software product. And as a part of the product, we need to address automated testing in an agile way.

First, we should focus on the highest value tests. Work on tests that will offer the greatest value for our team, as well as our customers.

Additionally, when we look at the stories that add features to our application, we need to incorporate testing strategies and use cases into the mix. It’s not enough to know what feature we’re building. We also need to know how we will prove that it works.

And finally, we need to iterate and improve our tests over time. Without a well-maintained test suite, we’ll eventually see decreasing value over time.

In short, to avoid this reason for failure, remember that your testing suite requires an agile mindset too.

Not Using the Right Tools

As developers, we can fall into repeated patterns when solving problems. And we often reach for the same tools that are already in our toolbox.

But when we begin our test automation project, we need to step back and learn more about the tools available to us because different tools solve different problems.

For example, Selenium provides a great testing framework for testing the GUI on our web apps. But using Selenium for all your testing may result in long-term slowdowns in product delivery.

Additionally, when we consider our user stories, we can leverage tools like Cucumber or Gherkin to make sure we’re validating the right behavior. And we can use these tools to create tests that everyone can read and understand.

Testing automation has been around for a while. And many in the field have worked diligently on creating the right tools to solve testing problems. So, learn the tools of the trade, and work to incorporate them properly in your test automation plan.

Trying to Automate Too Much

Our third common reason for failure involves automating too much. In test automation, some automated tests offer more value than others.

Overall, we want to automate the portions of the application that offer the most ROI.

So, does that mean we shouldn’t automate everything right away? Yes! In fact, some tests, like exploratory tests, should always stay manual.

As another example, automating the happy path of your application’s functionality always provides value. This test covers the path of most of your customers and should be automated and integrated with your application pipeline. However, building and maintaining a Selenium test that covers a scenario that occurs rarely might not offer the value you need.

When you first embark on your test automation journey, focus on where you can add automation easily. This will ensure getting a good ROI for your testing efforts.

To Sum It Up

We’ve now covered three ways in which our test automation projects can go wrong. If you’re ready to learn more about how to use the tools and processes you need, head over to our Test Automation Bootcamp. With this course, you’ll learn how to introduce fast, repeatable tests into your application life cycle. And you’ll learn how to avoid the pitfalls that cause the failures we’ve talked about here.

Sylvia Fronczak
Sylvia Fronczak