Note: Occasionally a client may rewrite work or change it enough that I no longer feel it accurately represents the work that I did. In those cases, I keep my version here, so that you can see what my work looks like, and so that I don’t misrepresent work as mine that wasn’t. This piece was accepted and paid for by Testlio.com and edited heavily.
There has never been development without testing, and QA has been integral to successful software launches since the dawn of computers. Traditionally, testing meant human testers putting software through its paces, and that’s still an important part of QA. But now, automation is key to keeping up with the competition and bringing QA into the modern era. This isn’t new, but not all companies have embraced automated testing yet.
If this is you, the question is where to begin. It may be that functional testing – the bread and butter of QA – is the best place to start integrating automation into your QA process.
Functional Testing is Arguably Your Most Import QA Task
The bottom line is if you’re software doesn’t work, you can’t sell it. Yet far too often companies bring apps to market before they’re thoroughly vetted. In fact, poor-quality software cost businesses nearly $2 billion in 2020. There is truly a high cost when software doesn’t live up to its promised functionality:
- Customer Churn – Consumers have choices, and more and more, they’re willing to pay more to your competitor for software that functions how they expect.
- Revenue Loss – Not only does losing customers hurt the bottom line, so do functional issues related to payments. Fail to find problems like this early, and you could be giving your software away for free for months before you notice.
- Reputation – Nothing hurts your reputation more than customer reviews revealing the app doesn’t work. Bad reviews have a cascading effect, leading to lower ratings which reduce downloads, which in turn reduces visibility.
Overall, it’s basic common sense that apps must do what they promise to do to be successful. Functional testing is simply that – testing that verifies that all functions of the software work. That’s why functional testing is the highest QA priority. Perfecting the look and feel, adding features, and streamlining can wait, and won’t matter if basic functionality isn’t there.
Functional Testing Basics
Functional testing is perfectly suited for automation. Tasks are repetitive and require accuracy and a systematic approach – the very things machines do better and faster than humans. The vast majority of functional tests are unit tests – an ideal place to start with automation. Regression tests are also well-suited to automation and are a key part of the test and fix cycle.
Yet not all teams or apps are the same. Some decision-making is involved in designing good automated functional tests. A good place to start is the test automation pyramid. While not a be-all-end-all set of rules, the pyramid can be thought of as an initial guide. Not surprisingly, at the bottom of this pyramid are unit tests. Unit tests form the foundation of an automated testing strategy, and they should be automated early and often.
Starting with that foundation in mind, remember a few key steps to create an effective automated functional test framework, based on test-driven development (TDD).
- Create a test case with data
- Write the code to fulfill the test case requirements
- Run the test
- Fix code as required to pass the test
This basic approach to functional testing integrates unit testing with development, making for simple, robust, and flexible automated testing.
Writing Automated Functional Test Cases
Automated testing doesn’t remove humans from the equation. On the contrary, automated testing works best when combined with traditional manual testing. Automated functional testing can increase coverage and speed for the most repetitive unit and regression tests, and manual testers can cover functionality that’s too complex to automate.
Not to mention, humans are needed to write test cases. To do this successfully, you need to develop a solid, repeatable strategy for creating effective automated test cases.
Part of that strategy is maximizing human resources by leveraging low-code test automation with easy functional test cases. This way, more team members – even people without a lot of coding experience – can get in on writing test cases.
Your team should know the fundamental features of a great functional test case:
- Make a clear, well-defined test purpose.
- Communicate clear prerequisites, eg: “test requires being logged in as a user with x subscription level”.
- Include “what if” scenarios like “what if the browser crashes during input?”
- Outline clear steps detailing actions and expected results.
- Validate whether the test passed or failed.
Again, the goal of automated testing isn’t to replace human testing. Instead, the ideal QA scenario is an integrated whole where automation fills in the gaps, makes repetitive tasks faster, and frees up human testers to deal with high-level questions and unique cases.
Find Out How You Can Implement Automated Functional Testing
At the end of the day, your QA strategy needs to fit you. Automated functional testing is a great place to start if you’re looking to start your automation journey, but you’ll still want a balanced, robust approach. You needn’t go it alone, though. Contact Testlio for a free demo today and find out how we can help you create your ideal QA strategy.