Automation Testing

Unraveling the Automation Scorecard: Where Do You Stand?

By Test Guild
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Do you know what your Automation Scorecard Score is?


Not sure you even know what it is? No worries!

Read on to learn how to find your score and some ways to improve it.

Introducing the Automation Scorecard

Today I want to introduce you to an Automation Scorecard, a handy way to evaluate your automation testing efforts.

The Scorecard evaluates the current quality of your test automation scripts in six crucial areas.

No matter what automation testing tool you use–Selenium, Cypress, Playwright, UFT, etc.–it doesn't matter. These six principles apply universally.

Moreover, we've created a fun quiz to help you and your teams evaluate your performance based on these six areas and provide ways to improve.

So, let’s review the six key areas of the Scorecard.

1. Maintainability

Think of it like this: it's all about how simply you can tweak and fine-tune a Test Script or Suite when the software you're testing gets a makeover. It's about spotting and fixing problems in the test, no sweat.

But that's not all.

It's also about how clear the code looks to the person who wrote it up and anyone else who takes a peek.

A maintainable test script is well structured, follows good coding practices, is well documented, and can be readily understood and updated, reducing the time and effort required for its upkeep.

There are many ways you can improve your automation Maintainability.

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I'll cover a few of them here.

However, you can access much more in the Scorecard checklist when you take the quiz.

The first one is Readability.

You spend more time reading scripts than writing them, so if your tests aren't readable, they won't be maintainable.

The second one is writing Modular code, which means breaking your test scripts or test cases into smaller, more manageable, easily updated or reused functions.

Automation Testing Maintainability (1)

2. Relevant to the Business

I believe it’s imperative that your tests align with and validate the business requirements and objectives.

It's basically about ensuring the functionality test is meaningful to end users. It contributes to the overall business goals, and the test catches any deviations that might impact business operations or user experience. It also underscores the importance of prioritizing test automation efforts on the most impactful aspects of the software from a business perspective.

Focusing mainly on risk is what I find key in this area.

As I see it, two key ways to make automation more relevant to the business exist.

The first one is to ensure that it aligns with the business goal. When running a test, ask yourself, “Is this aligning with the business goals? Do I understand the business goals? Am I designing my test to validate the most important features and functionality to achieve those goals?” If the answer to any of those is No, delete the test or don't write the test.

The second one is risk-based testing. You want to identify and prioritize tests based on the risk and impact of the potential failure. Features with high business impacts should be tested more thoroughly.

3. Clear Traceability

This is about linking test cases easily and results back to the respective requirements or user stories. This ensures that each test has a specific purpose tied to the functionality or performance of the application or software under test.

Clear traceability allows stakeholders to understand what is being tested, why it's being tested, and how the results relate to the project's objectives. That's crucial for effective reporting, understanding test coverage, and verifying that all business requirements are properly validated.

You’ll want to map the test to the requirements, so explicitly link each test case to the specific requirement or user story it validates. When I did this back in the day, we had a Behavior Driver Development (BDD) Cucumber-based framework. I would use a @tag to help trace and identify a test for a specific requirement.

Tags are a great way to organize your features and scenarios.

They are also handy for running a subset of scenarios.

Any time I needed to run tests that linked back to that requirement, I would pass that tag at the command line, and it would run only the tests with that tag.

For example, this would run all my tests with tag referencing requirement 123.

mvn test -Dcucumber.filter.tags="@req123"

Another tip is to name your tests in a way that clearly indicates their purpose and the functionality of the testing.

Giving your testing ambiguous names like X or Foo make it difficult to know what the test even does.

You should be able to look at it and immediately know what it does, what it means, and what it will test for you.

Proper naming will also help you debug later because if it fails, you’ll know what area of your application to check.

Automation Testing Relevant to the Business (1)

4. Reusability

This is the ability of test scripts or components thereof to be used in multiple test scenarios across different projects.

Reusability reduces the effort and time needed to create and maintain test scripts and increase consistency. It's all about crafting modularly designed tests where current functionalities are encapsulated into reusable functions or classes.

In the past, I've been on teams that have multiple sprint teams, and each team has its own login, but they all do the same thing. This code smell lets you know that your tests probably are not readable.

You should avoid duplication as much as possible, which will help make your tests more reusable.

Once again, there's more in the quiz checklist.

You should always modulize your test scripts by breaking them down into smaller, more reusable functions and methods. That will enable you to reuse these components across multiple tests.

It will also be important to leverage a test framework that supports reusability from the start, such as those that provide setup and teardown methods and support data-driven testing.

Leveraging an existing framework with multiple features out of the box will save you time from coding from scratch.

5. Manageable and Scalable

Manageable means the test suite is well organized, easy to navigate, and can be efficiently updated or adjusted. It also implies that the test execution, monitoring, and reporting are streamlined and user-friendly.

The Scalable piece refers to the test suite's capability or capacity to handle growth, whether in the form of increased test cases, more complex scenarios, or expanded software functionality.

Scalable tests can be easily extended and can maintain performance despite increased demands. I speak to many folks, and sometimes writing the automation tests is okay. The problem comes when you're trying to scale it.

So, if you don't start thinking about making your tests manageable and scalable from the beginning, it will be difficult to scale up from that initial small test suite to thousands of automated tests.

You can use two key ways to make your automation more manageable and scalable.

The first is following coding standards; you’ll want to adhere to consistent coding convention standards. This makes the code base easier to understand, maintain and expand.

If you're not doing code reviews for your automated tests, you should at least have some sort of sniffer that can help ensure that it's following a convention or standard.

This will help your team immensely, especially if you work across multiple sprint teams.

You’ll also want consistency across each team when writing their automated tests.

A second best practice is running your tests as often as possible; this will help you determine whether your tests are reliable, making them more manageable and scalable.

You should definitely look into continuous integration and continuous delivery. If you're not doing so already, you’ll want to incorporate your tests into a CI/CD pipeline to manage them, run them automatically, and make the process more manageable and scalable for everybody.

Automation Testing Clear Traceabilit

6. Accessible Across the Company

Your test scripts, results, and related documentation must be readily available and understandable to various organizational stakeholders.

This includes testers, developers, project managers, business analysts, and sometimes upper management. I used to have two management reports run each quarter to determine where we were with our tests. What were the results? What was a failure? What was successful? How were we going to improve?

The reports were helpful because we didn't have a real, accessible dashboard then, although we eventually built one that made it easy for anyone to look at the results and was a great time saver.

Your test suite and its outputs should be in a format that's also easily digestible for non-technical staff. And ideally, the tool you use for testing should have user-friendly interfaces that multiple team members can navigate. This will encourage transparency for its collaboration and ensure that everyone involved can gain insight from the testing process.

You want to be sure to have the entire team involved in doing automation as opposed to one person on a sprint team. It should be a full team effort; one way to do that is to ensure you make your tests as accessible as possible.

One way to do that is to clearly document your test cases processes and results so they're easy for all stakeholders to understand. You’ll also want to implement a testing dashboard.

Use dashboards that provide high-level overviews of test results, making the information readily digestible for non-technical stakeholders and your whole team.
All this should be automated into a dashboard that folks on your team can easily find and act on.

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More Actionable Automation Advice

The Automation Scorecard approach was one of Jonathon Wright's tips in Automation Awesomeness 260 Actual Affirmations to Improve your QA and Automation Testing Skills.

Drawing from over 600 interviews conducted across 9 years, I've distilled bite-sized, actionable daily advice for your benefit.

I call it a “one-page-a-day” book, which only requires 5-10 minutes of your day.

Here's how it works: Each business day, you'll read a page featuring a quote from an expert. You'll then learn how to put this advice into action. Plus, there's a dedicated space to note down your thoughts.

Get Your Copy of the Book Now

Automaton Challenge for You

Before we wrap it up, I have a challenge for you.

Think about your last test automation script or test execution.

Using the scorecard quiz to help evaluate how well it performed.

How can it be improved? What could be improved? What can you do to make things better?

And share your score in the comments section below.

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