Automation testing has become an integral part of the entire product release cycle since it helps in expediting the release of a quality product. However, executing an automation testing strategy requires immense requirements analysis, top-notch planning, and frictionless execution. The old adage ‘Planning and Execution go hand-in-hand’ also applies to automation testing’ 🙂
There is always a risk of failures if there is no proper planning. Charting out a detailed automation testing plan by involving the necessary project stakeholders can be a good starting point to make way into automation testing. Irrespective of the team size or project complexity, it is essential to perform a detailed study about the benefits that automation testing will bring to the table.
When considering the evaluation, the respective stakeholders can do a micro-level project analysis and macro-level organization analysis. It is recommended to consider the ROI of test automation by taking short-term and long-term benefits into account. Such a detailed evaluation will help in realizing the benefits of automation testing across teams and projects.
In this blog, we will cover the important aspects related to the creation of an impactful automation testing plan. You can use the learnings of this blog to create plans that suit the needs of your project. Let’s get started…
What is Automation Testing Plan?
For starters, automation testing is a software testing approach where functional and non-functional tests are conducted on the software product. Test automation frameworks and tools are leveraged to realize reliable and scalable secure test strategies.
There are a number of test automation frameworks like Selenium, Cypress, WebDriverIO, etc. that are primarily used for web automation testing. On similar lines, there are a number of tools (commercial and open-source) for running automated performance tests, stress tests, and other forms of tests.
A software testing plan is a blueprint that covers the major aspects of automation testing of the project. The document contains the following:
- Scope of test automation
- Goals & objectives of test automation
- R&R (roles & responsibilities) at a macro-level
- Cost estimation
- Estimated ROI of test automation [optional]
- Details about QA outsourcing [optional]
Almost all the automated testing tools can be integrated with CI/CD tools; thereby helping teams run tests in a continuous fashion. Many product-based companies seek the benefits of test automation services to expedite the execution of test automation strategy.
Steps to create a Test Automation Plan
Now that we have touched upon the basics of test automation planning, let us look into the nitty-gritty of test planning. The steps mentioned in this section are agnostic of the project type and size; the learnings of which will be extremely helpful in executing a perfect test plan.
Here are the major steps involved in the creation of test automation plan:
1. Defining Test Objectives
This is a part of the planning and analysis phase. Unless and until you know what you need to achieve, how can you do planning for the same? Hence, every stakeholder must be on the same page as far as the test objectives are concerned.
The objectives of the plan encompasses the expectations of the test automation plan. It is important to note that too many details are not added in the objectives section since that will be a part of the execution.
All the major project stakeholders (i.e. test leads, QA managers, QA director, etc.) help in defining the overall objectives in the plan.
2. Project Overview
This section covers the project details at a very high level. The macro-level project details included in this section helps in ensuring that anyone reading the document gets an understanding about the project and the objectives of testing.
The learnings from this section helps in connecting the dots with the sections that follow next in the automation testing plan.
This section consists of the overall assumptions that were taken into consideration when drafting the plan. The assumption could be about resources, tools, frameworks, or the overall project timeline.
The assumptions must be called out to the respective stakeholders so that they have a clear understanding on the points basis of which the plan is drafted.
Also Read – Automation Testing Vs. Manual Testing
4. Estimated ROI of test automation
It is a known fact that not every test scenario can be automated. A mix of manual and automation testing is the way forward. Automated testing involves investment in terms of resources, tools, frameworks, infrastructure, and more.
Choosing the best-suited tool (or framework) and opting for a scalable & reliable infrastructure can go a long way in reaping the maximum benefits of automation testing. Many companies partner with an experienced automation testing company to make an informed decision related to test automation.
There are a number of ways to deep dive into how to measure ROI of test automation. A negative ROI can cause a significant dent on the overall planning of the project. The ROI must be considered from short-term and long-term perspectives.
The test automation ROI formula depends on the infrastructure costs, on-time & recurring costs, resource costs, and more. Considering there are so many variables involved, it can be inferred that there is no single formula to calculate test automation ROI.
At a very high-level, the ROI of test automation can be deduced by dividing the net savings by the cost of the investment (i.e. software + implementation). This value is then multiplied with 100 to get the approximate ROI of test automation.
5. Identification of tools and frameworks
This step is a part of the broader automation testing strategy. The choice of the right tool or framework can drive significant returns in the long term. Let’s consider a hypothetical example where your team is evaluating frameworks or tools for realizing scalable and reliable web automation testing. There are ample choices like Selenium, PlayWright, Cypress, etc. through which web automation can be performed.
The team of major project stakeholders must evaluate the potential options for tools and frameworks taking the in-house expertise into consideration. Many enterprises also partner with outsourced QA vendors that have expertise in providing automation testing services to their clients.
The wisest choice of automation tool (or framework) can expedite the entire automation testing process. The automation testing plan must include a comprehensive list of the test automation frameworks (and tools) detailing their pros, cons, pricing, and in-house expertise of the same.
For more scalable and reliable tests, it is recommended to add details about cloud-based automated test platforms since it will help in reducing the overall infrastructure and maintenance costs.
6. Defining scope of automation tests
It is a given that unit tests will be conducted by the developer. However, unit tests alone do not suffice to ship a quality product. In this step, the test scenarios are identified and later categorized into different buckets – smoke, regression, stress, performance, etc.
The number of test scenarios depends on the overall features in the product. It is likely that the number of test scenarios will increase incrementally based on the number of product features. This is where scope and design of automation tests becomes extremely important.
Maintainability and reliability of the test cases goes a long way in generating the maximum ROI from test automation.
The plan must also mention the review frequency, bug reporting tools, and other aspects related to code review and maintenance.
Also Read – Tips to Define Test Scope for Software Testing
7. Execution of test scenarios
This section in the plan details about the execution of the planned test scenarios. Here you need to list down details regarding implementation and execution of tests at the project level, test data management, and test case deployment.
The list of CI/CD tools for realizing continuous integration with automated testing must be also detailed in this section. Detailing every aspect about test execution and test deployment is the highlight of this section.
8. Test Automation Reporting
Mere execution of test scenarios might not be very useful. It must be complemented with a detailed reporting mechanism to measure the effectiveness of automation runs.
The automation reports must detail information related to:
- Number of tests executed,
- Number of tests passed, and
- Number of tests failed
A lower test coverage could negatively impact the product quality. Hence, test coverage must also be included in the test reports so that appropriate actions can be taken to improve the test coverage.
To conclude, an automation testing plan documents every aspect related to the planning and execution of activities that would be helpful in shipping a top-notch product. A standardized test automation planning template can be devised to ensure there is uniformity in the test plans when used across teams (or projects).
Onboarding an experienced automation testing company will help in expediting the steps mentioned in the automation testing plan. It’s time to execute the plan!