Myth-busting your test automation beliefs

Close up of a magnifying glass being held over the keyboard of a Macbook | Test automation

A few years ago, the question “To test, or not to test?” emerged amongst technology upgraders. No, it’s not a quote from an almost-certainly doomed, post-modern adaptation of Hamlet, it’s a question addressed by everyone implementing new software. Most, however, would now know the answer already.

Countless upgrade fumbles have taught businesses that this was a trick question. Thankfully, everyone who uses enterprise software is now painfully aware of the need to test their software before a go-live.

So, come 2023, that question has evolved into: “to automate, or not to automate?”

Most would agree that test automation saves time and money, but only five percent of organizations carry out fully automated testing. As for future plans, up to 73 percent of companies would like to reach a ‘manual to automation’ proportion of 50:50 or 25:75. Only 14 percent reported they wish to eliminate manual testing in full. The overall takeaway? A majority of enterprises are not satisfied with their testing programs.

Why is the adoption of test automation slower than the adoption of automation in other areas, like manufacturing, copywriting and retail? 60 percent of all corporate data is now stored in the cloud. The average enterprise uses 1,295 cloud services. That’s a lot of migrations, a lot of ERPs, a lot of updates – basically a lot of testing that could be automated, but is remaining manual.

The reason for this? There’s a lot of misconceptions. Misunderstandings about the protocols, cost and requirements of automated testing often get in the way of clients making the changes they need to make to stay competitive and up to speed with their packaged app.

Here are my thoughts on the top testing myths circulating the enterprise tech industry – and what I’d say to bust ‘em.

Myth: Test automation totally eliminates the need for manual testing and replaces jobs.

Reality: Test automation is not always a replacement for manual testing. Automated testing is best used to complement manual testing, not replace it entirely. While automated testing can help speed up the testing process and catch certain types of defects, it cannot replace the human judgment that is needed for certain types of testing (such as exploratory testing).

Myth: Test automation is only suitable for large projects with ample resources.

Reality: Test automation works for any software or digital ecosystem. Automation can be used on projects of any size and it can be especially useful for smaller projects that have limited resources and tight deadlines. An automation platform can provide testing for all sorts of custom applications, mobile interfaces and websites. (For instance, Opkey as an example can test more than 15 packaged apps, including Oracle Cloud, Oracle EBS, Salesforce, SAP, and Workday.)

Myth: It’s better to use Selenium or another open-source tool to test.

Reality: Selenium is an open-source test automation tool that allows APIs to automate tests carried out in web browsers. Any action can be performed by writing a piece of custom code. Organizations are often initially attracted to it because it’s free.

However, we found that the same test that takes four hours to code with Selenium takes three minutes when powered by automation. Now multiply that time proportion across every single test in your app – it makes a pretty big difference. Any money it seems you would save at first can be eaten up in labor costs, as manual testers spend weeks and months testing simple changes.

Myth: Test automation is just a fad.

Reality: Not so. The industry has permanently changed. The increasing pace of software development and the increasing use of methodologies like agile and DevOps have made reliance on manual testing simply unfeasible.

Human hands can’t keep up, and the errors that human minds produce can derail an ERP and cost millions of dollars. The automated testing market (global) was estimated at $22.4bn in 2022 and is expected to reach around $57bn by 2030. That’s some serious growth, driven by some serious need.

Myth: Test automation is a one-time activity.

Reality: Test automation is a routine need for your system, like the upkeep of a car. Changes, updates and the natural growth of a business require systems to expand and be tested in new ways. Automated tests must be reviewed regularly to ensure they are still relevant and effective.

I’d recommend making the change as soon as possible, before the software lifecycle speeds up even more and manual testing becomes increasingly unable to keep up with the pace. Bust the myths, make the change – and your team, budget and leadership will thank you.