Introduction

Testing has become standardized and more competent, and its processes have been evolving each day. The technical adeptness of the testers also matters in the success of the complete testing stages. Testing no longer means discovering bugs only, its scope has broadened, and its importance can be seen right from the start of any development project.

When we talk about the automation testing life cycle, most of us believe it is just a part of SDLC, but it is a lot more than that. It is necessary to understand that automation testing should be a prominent part of the automation testing strategy and has a life cycle. Businesses have to adapt it to enhance the quality of their software products.

As we move ahead, we will be able to answer questions like, what is – automation testing life cycle, and what are the phases in the automation testing life cycle.

What are the phases in Automation Testing Life Cycle?

Test Automation should be backed by strong test planning. The predefined structure of the process helps to design the test plan, and strategizes the selection of automation testing tools, setting up test environments, design and script the test cases. It further defines the scope of test automation, test preparation, implementation, test validation, and reporting.

These Six phases in the Automation Testing Life Cycle run side by side with the software development cycle. Following are the stages:

1. Determining the scope of automation testing:

It is the very first step of the automation testing life cycle. In this step, the testing team identifies the viability of the automation testing. Feasibility analysis is essential for every stage to examine their workability and helps the testing team design the test scripts. Things to be considered in this stage are:

– Deciding which modules of the application should be automated and which ones shouldn’t.

– What test cases can be or need to be automated?

– Understand how to automate those test cases.

– Choose the right tools for automation considering its suitability with the testing goals.

– Analyze the budgets, the cost of implementation, available resources, and available skillset.

Test case and AUT automation feasibility analysis are performed before getting started with test automation.

2. Selecting the right automation tool

It is one of the most critical stages of ATLC because automation testing is dependent on tools. Selecting the right automation tools to automate the UI components should be thought about and decided wisely. Selecting a tool might need another level of analysis to be completed. Before you choose the tool, you should always keep the budget and cost in mind. Apart from that, the team should analyze if the resources are technically skilled and that the tool supports the technology required in the project. Additionally, the tool should provide strong technical support to answer any queries. pCloudy is one of the modern tools that can solve the tool selection problem. With more than 2000 browsers on the cloud to test on, it provides cloud-based Selenium Grid supporting automation frameworks that work on Selenium automation. pCloudy provides automated screenshots, video logs of the AUT, and other data about your automated tests scripts, bug tracking mechanism and provides all-time technical support to resolve all the queries.

3. Automation test planning, automation test strategy, and automation test designing:

Here’s another critical step in the automation test cycle that mainly explains the approach of accomplishment of your test automation strategy. The primary step in this phase of ATLC is to decide which test automation framework to work on. While selecting a suitable tool for your project, you have to keep in mind the technologies required by your software project. So, it is important to perform an in-depth analysis of the product.

While performing automation test planning, testers set up the standards and guidelines for the test procedure creation, hardware, software, and network requirements for the test environment, test data prerequisites, test schedule, error tracking mechanism and the tool, etc. Testers are also responsible for deciding the test architecture, structure of the test program, and test procedure management.

The following points are covered in the test management strategy:

  • The test management tool will capture all the manual test cases. Testers need to gather manual test cases and identify which ones need to be tested.
  • There must be thorough research done to identify the test framework and understand the advantages and disadvantages of the automation testing tool.
  • Additionally, testers also need to understand all the associated threats, backgrounds, and dependencies between the tool and the application.
  • The team also has to build a test suite for the automation test case in the test management tool.
  • Without the approval of the stakeholders and clients, the test strategy made cannot be implemented or executed.
 4. Setting up the test environment

In this phase, the testing team has to set up, track and schedule the environment for the test. In other words, it means that at this stage, a machine/remote environment is established to execute test cases. Virtual machines are needed because not all users use the same machines to access web apps. So, we need to observe various devices, browsers, and versions that the users use. Your website might not look the way it is intended to be seen by the user if not properly verified for its compatibility across different Device-Browser-OS combinations. For achieving this, Cross-browser testing becomes a top priority to ensure that your web app delivers a great user experience as intended.  

This phase needs detailed planning to tackle as many scenarios as possible and increase test coverage. With a responsible involvement of the testing team, a proper track and schedule of all the environment setup activities have to be maintained. Apart from that, everything from setting up the test environment, arranging network and hardware resources, performing test database cleansing, developing testbed and environment scripts have to be taken care of.

Performing cross-browser testing is not as easy as it sounds. It involves setting up so many browsers, their versions, devices, etc., which becomes burdensome for the team. Thinking of maintaining your browser lab isn’t easy either because it’s a costly affair for setting up from scratch and maintaining the infrastructure and not all businesses can afford it. So, it is advisable to go for a cloud-based testing infrastructure that provides testers a platform to test a variety of browser-device-OS combinations for several mobile and desktop devices hosted by virtual machines. 

Here are a few aspects covered for test environment set up: 

  • Ensure to have a front-end running environment that can perform load testing to check whether it is competent to handle high loads of web traffic.
  • Sometimes, the test environment set up is not fed with similar data to that of the production data that makes the product vulnerable to any code changes in the production environment.
  • A list of all the systems, modules, and applications that need to be put under test should undergo a maintenance check.
  • Test as many browsers and their versions as possible.
  • Test across numerous client operating systems.
  • Separate database server for the staging environment is required.
  • Ensure testing the web application on high and low network conditions to understand the actual website rendering time and overall appearance.
  • Maintaining user manuals, installation guides, and other documents in a central database is key to setting up the test environment for the future requirements as well.
5. Test scripting and execution:

After the test environment setup is configured, the next step is executing the test script. Testers should consider the following before developing the test scripts:

  • Creating scripts based on the requirements of the project.
  • Using a common method throughout the process.
  • Ensuring scripts are reusable, easy, and structured so that anyone can understand them.
  • Perform proper code review and reporting for better insights and maintain quality throughout the process.

Once the scripts are developed, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure that the scripts are running hassle-free:

  • They should include all functional aspects as per the test case.
  • They should cover all the platforms and environments to execute test scripts.
  • They must incorporate batch execution to save time and effort.
  • And always practice writing bug reports in case of any functional errors.

Test outcomes are evaluated and recorded for further references, and test result documents are created in this part of ATLC.

6. Test Analysis and Reporting:

It is the last and the most crucial stage of the Automation Testing Life Cycle. Merely saving the data does not help unless you make use of it.After all the test results are captured, all types of testing are performed, the testing team analyzes and identifies the problematic functionalities. The reports help understand if the team requires any additional procedures and provides information about different errors encountered. A thorough report is prepared and shared with the stakeholders, clients, employees, and teams crucial to the project at this stage. These reports are critical to understanding the behavior of the web applications during unfavorable scenarios.

Conclusion

There is no doubt that Software Automation Testing is an integral part of SDLC and is one of the most effective ways to achieve your testing goals. However, businesses must understand that software testing has its own set of stages that have to be followed diligently to reap the benefits of this technique. It allows achieving testing goals within stipulated timelines with whatever resources are available. Following each step of the automation testing life cycle helps achieve the best results, without requiring any manual intervention and easing the budgets and timelines. A well-planned automation testing life cycle leads to successful automation testing.

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