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Automated testing does not happen automatically

December 5, 2019

Automated testing, we hear and read a lot about it. Higher management in particular seems to be seduced by it. Visions and promises of cost and time savings do well within those circles. This also applies to organisations where the test process still leaves a lot to be desired. The leitmotiv of 'convenience' often plays an important role. People fail to realise that a mature test process is a condition for starting test automation. The question is of course whether test automation is the promised land...

Episode 1 of the cartoon test cees and kees.


Automated testing can certainly be a solution. For example in Agile/SCRUM environments where the same regression tests have to be carried out very frequently. There are many examples of organisations that successfully apply automated testing. However, a lot of work has gone into this. The preconditions for test automation have been filled in, a test tool has been selected, purchased and implemented and the regression test set has been automated with the tool. However, after that it becomes quite a challenge to keep the overview, to prevent proliferation and to keep the automated tests working. And this is exactly the point where, in many cases, there is underestimation.


Quickly automating something just for the sake of it does not work. It requires insight into the testing process but also knowledge of the possibilities of test automation. Besides, you cannot automate everything. The question you should ask yourself is whether you have sufficient insight in all (manual) tests which are being performed within your organisation. Which regression tests are being performed or should be performed? For which applications and on which platforms? Who is performing the tests? How often are the same tests performed? If these questions cannot be answered clearly, automated testing is still far away.


When cost management is the driving force for automated testing, you can also be disappointed. Not only the implementation costs money. Costs must also be incurred to manage the automated testing process. After all, new systems/integrations and releases mean that new scripts have to be written. Automated testing works on the basis of algorithms and/or scenarios that have been devised in advance. If something changes in the software, adjustments will have to be made in the scripts. Who is going to do this and how much time will it take? This cannot be realised with a single push of a button.

Automated testing costs time and money

As described above, automated testing means that you have to invest time and money. Not only at the start of automated testing but also for management. If you intend to start with test automation, a good impact analysis of the advantages and disadvantages is necessary. An important question is whether your organisation is ready for it. A mature test process and test organisation are indispensable. Make a business case to determine whether test automation will add sufficient value. And as mentioned before, you cannot test everything automatically.

A mature test process as a vestibule

Organisations that have their test process in order will have less difficulty automating recurring tests. Typical for this kind of organisations is that they have arranged the following things:

  • Testing is risk and requirement based;
  • There is a manual regression test set that is used;
  • There is central test coordination of test cycles;
  • There is a structured testing process.

In other words, there is a mature testing process.

Having the test process in order goes hand in hand with having a good test management tool. This will enable you to take the step towards automated testing. A test management tool is important to have grip on the manual tests and the automated tests. It is also a central place where the defects that originates from the manual and the automated tests are managed. With a test management tool you want to report on test progress and test coverage. It does not really matter whether tests are performed automatically or manually. And don't forget the importance of exploratory testing. As long as A.I. does not operate on the same level as humans, exploratory testing remains a manual activity. A good test management tool supports this too.

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