What Is Test Automation? Definition, Process and Test Types


In the present day agile world, iterative development and continuous improvement are some of the most crucial aspects of achieving business value. To adequately mitigate the security risk and vulnerabilities with these fast releases, enterprises must leverage the two types of testing: manual and automated testing. 

Manual testing requires a substantial amount of work or effort for the developers. Although manual testing is essential for usability testing and research/experimentation, test automation is critical for many testing scenarios, such as functional, regression, and performance testing.

Several enterprises have embraced test automation as an essential solution to delivering high-quality products. According to MarketsandMarkets.com, the global test automation market will grow from $12.6 billion in 2019 to $12.6 billion in 2019 at a CAGR of 18.0%.

In this blog post, you’ll learn about test automation, and why you need it.

What Is Automated Testing?

Test automation involves leveraging automation tools to control the execution of tests and compare the actual results to those predicted. Testing automation automates repetitive but essential tasks of a formalized testing process, enabling additional testing not otherwise possible. For instance, regression tests, which are representative, can be automated.

In an agile or DevOps environment, automated testing is crucial to continuous development and testing. It relies on automation testing tools to execute tests rather than a human tester. By leveraging testing tools, you don’t just have the opportunity to automate regression tests. You can also automate data entry for tests, GUI interaction, product installation, and log the defects.

In essence, you can use these tools for both functional and non-functional testing. Once tests are completed, you must compare the outcomes with expected results. This way, you get better efficiency, reliability, and a shorter time to market. On the contrary, manual tests—although still necessary for some testing scenarios— are carried out by humans and may be prone to errors and bias. Test automation aims at reducing the number of tests that need to be run manually while not eliminating them entirely.

The Types of Automated Tests

It is possible to automate most manual tests. To do that, you’ll need a user capable of writing automation scripts on a per-scenario basis. The following is a list of test types you can automate.

Functional Testing

After all the components are working, you need to check whether the system meets your requirements and needs. With functional tests, you can ensure that your applications conform to specifications and requirements. It evaluates API security, User Interface, database, and other functions. 

In this case, the testing process uses the Black Box testing approach, and the tester doesn't know how the system works internally. Although it’s much harder to automate Black Box testing, there are several automation solutions that you can leverage to conduct the testing. 

Some popular open-source functional testing tools include Selenium IDE (Integrated Development Environment) and Appium. You can easily record your interactions with Selenium thanks to the GUI (Graphical User Interface). Meanwhile, Appium is ideal for integrating with Selenium for testing mobile apps.

Unit Testing

Your finished product will not function as expected if individual parts of your code don't work. It doesn't matter whether your code comes in JavaScript or Python; each component needs testing. A unit test isolates the smallest piece of code in a system.

Most programming languages have functions, methods, properties, and subroutines as their units. Units can be lines of code, functions, methods, or classes. You'll gain a better understanding of your product as you reduce the amount of code under test.

However, the smaller the amount of code under testing, the more granular the view you’ll receive of your product. With automation, you can execute small amounts of code in bulk without requiring human intervention. 

Unit testing involves understanding an application's internal structure, which is a type of White Box Testing. In essence, it’s an essential part of the software development process because it can take place at any point. You will receive continuous feedback that will speed up the development process. 

Regression Testing

Do you recall ever updating software or mobile applications and finding bugs within the system as a result? Regression testing ensures existing features are not adversely affected by recent updates. Simply put, it assures that any change to the system won't adversely affect any previously working functionality. 

During every test process, you’ll modify and add changes to your application codebase. In light of this, a regression test is essential. For regression testing, you pull test cases that correspond to the modified or affected code from the test suite. It’s an integral part of continuous integration and development (CI/CD).

Regression testing is part of the automated acceptance tests. These tests follow a similar principle of creating acceptance tests before implementing a feature. With these tests, you can determine whether a component matches up with the desired result. That's why it's crucial to write tests with developers, businesses, and QA.

Integration Testing

When it comes to automation, integration tests are one of a kind. Because integration tests engage with external dependencies, they're more challenging to set up. When dealing with resources located outside of your control, it's often a good idea to create fake external resources.

For instance, if you’re dependent on a particular external service, you might fail your test unexpectedly if the vendor's service is down. With this make your app crash? Although it may happen, you should have the ability to control the whole test environment so that you can create each scenario individually. Test scenarios should never be affected by external factors.

Performance Testing 

For this particular test, there are several kinds. And they all test the performance of the application. For instance, can your application handle traffic in the thousands? Is the response time fast enough? Is it scalable? 

Unless your product goes through performance tests, you won't know how it will perform under different conditions. Often with these tests, you have to simulate a large number of users. The application and environment have to function as expected. As a result, performance testing helps to evaluate your application's responsiveness, stability, and speed.

Why You Need Automated Tests

Ensure Consistency

For an application to meet user satisfaction, it’s crucial to provide a consistent experience across all digital touchpoints and devices. Users expect seamless, immediate responses while using your application. 

The fact is, every digital interaction reflects your brand. As a result, you should consider integrating app testing into your entire strategy.

Secure Agile and DevOps Pipeline

Most enterprises use the Agile or DevOps approach as their core software development practice. These approaches have changed how businesses, developers, and consumers develop, test, build, and release applications. Both practices champion frequent, modular releases. In light of that, testing every single component, subunit, or service is crucial to the success of every release cycle.

In the industry today, businesses are delivering more frequent and faster releases. For your company to stay relevant, it’s essential to keep your testing as accurate and efficient as possible to stay ahead of the competition.


For every application that you develop, there’s an expected level of performance. In addition to that, it may be necessary to anticipate situations that may arise in the future. For instance, handling hundreds of user traffic each day instead of managing millions of transactions on a black Friday. 

With that in mind, automated tests can help you prepare your application for such scenarios. To do that, you can simulate scenarios with millions of users to help test. 

Reduce Repetitive Tasks With Automation

Most businesses have several digital touchpoints spanning mobile devices, web, AR/VR, IoT devices, and more. With so many different scenarios and possibilities to test, repeating each test every time can be very lengthy. What’s the point of having a test that you can only run once? 

Test automation enables you to easily automate tests, consequently accelerating delivery and enabling high scalability. On top of that, it keys in with the DevOps practice of continuous testing.

Save Time and Resources

Test automation can save you a substantial amount of time and, eventually, a great deal of money. Every time a software change occurs, it can be tedious to check every feature manually to make sure that it isn't affected by another change. This process will only become increasingly problematic over time. 

By leveraging automated tests, you can successfully achieve one of the primary goals of DevOps automation - saving time, money, and effort.

How to Select Tests to Automate

The simple truth is: not all tests can be automated. The following use cases are a perfect fit for test automation:

  • Repeatability and large volume: Ensure tests can run more than once. Especially useful for automating time-consuming and high-volume batch testing.

  • Determinant: Having repeatable and deterministic tests is the key to automating tests. The test script should be able to capture all possible outcomes because the results are fairly predictable. Stress or load tests fall into this category.

  • Business-Critical tests: Automating tests can help ensure that new features do not break existing ones and cause a service disruption. When it comes to smoke and regression tests, test automation provides the most benefit.

  • Test environment and data: The goal of test automation goes beyond automating tests. You can also use it to automate tasks such as setting up test environments and data.

Getting Started With Test Automation Best Practices

Test automation enables businesses to manage test data, conduct tests, and track test results. Although manual testing is equally as crucial, you will save a lot of time, effort, and resources with test automation. In this way, you will improve the effectiveness of your feedback cycle, increase your test coverage, and more, thus ensuring a timely and cost-effective release of your product.

The fact is, test automation increases application quality and also speeds up the development process. Some tests can be automated; some are not. Given the variety of tests available, getting the right selection of tests is crucial. You can also leverage test automation tools to help you implement scripts that’ll help secure your development application. 

Want to get started with test automation? Find out how to choose the right DevOps tools for your team.

Topics: WebDev