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Test automation: pros and cons

Software testing is an integral part of any software development process. Quality is a key to the success. On early stages of computer technologies development testing was performed only manually. But with time it became necessary to automate performed tests in order to improve verification of complicated software functionality.

Automated testing is a process of software verification, whereby program tools run tests automatically, meaning that a machine performs the testing instead of a person.

One of the popular questions of many software testing companies is “Is it necessary to perform test automation and when it is appropriate?”

Let’s consider main advantages and disadvantages of automated testing and when it is necessary to use.

Pros of Automated Testing:

  • Reliability. In course of automated testing tools and/or scripts are used. It eliminates the human factor.
  • Effectiveness. With help of automation tools software testing can be performed faster, than by a manual software tester. In comparison with manual testing, creating an automated script takes less efforts.
  • Clarity. Test automation allows to create reports on the basis of performed checks. When all team members see the testing results, cooperation is more effective and quality of the product is higher as well.
  • Independence. Automated tests are performed without any extra participation of a software tester. Therefore, a specialist has more time for fulfilling other important tasks.

Cons of Automated Testing:

  • Cost. Automation tools help to perform effective software testing, but, as practice shows, such tools can be pretty expensive.
  • Time and efforts spent on tests development and support. Creation of automated tests requires particular skills and experience of a tester, as well as funding. The more complicated the checked software is, the more complicated written scripts are. Moreover, automation testing tools must be supported and regularly updated.
  • Loss of small errors that can be crucial for the client. Automated tests check only those parts of the functionality which are prescribed in the code. A manual software tester, unlike a script, can notice details and pay more attention to them.
  • Limitation of covered functionality. Some software testing types like, for example, usability testing, cannot be automated, since visual aspects should be checked.

Undoubtedly, automation plays an important role, but at the same time it cannot substitute manual testing.

It is preferable to perform automated testing by regression, load and performance testing, since it comes to high volume of data. But such software testing types like exploratory, usability and ad-hoc testing require attention and skills of a manual tester. The application can endure high loads, be secure and scalable, however, if it is not user-friendly, it is ineffective.

Weighing all pros and cons, software testing company can decide whether to deploy test automation. If the project is small or disadvantages prevail over advantages, there is no use to perform automated testing. But when automation is applied in a proper way, it can become a productive tool allowing to achieve good results within particular budget and time frame.