Once you or your team decide you’re ready to get started with automated testing, then comes time to choose your tool.
You’ll quickly find that there are a lot of different options to make your decision difficult, but there are going to be many differences between them as well. Looking a little bit closer will help you find the right fit, but first, you have to ask a few questions during the evaluation.
How long will it take to get started? – Depending on the tool, you may have to do some downloading, installation, and setup. You may have the time and patience for this, but if you want a tool that’ll take minimal effort to set up, then it’s something to take into consideration when looking. You also want to think about what the onboarding process is like. Some platforms will be fairly straightforward, while others take a while to get the hang of. This is something you can usually evaluate during the free trial. Determine how quickly you can get into the tool and start building out tests and if the interface is simple and clear, or if it will take some time to get familiar with the tool. Many tools will be intuitive and easy to dive into, but not all are. If it’s something that will take weeks of setup and training during onboarding, it may be worthwhile to consider another option.
How is customer support? – The trial is also a good time to evaluate some of the intangibles, such as customer support. Try contacting the support team to see how responsive they are if you run into issues during trial, whether that be setting up and getting started or running an automated test. Consider how helpful they when getting to know the tool, since you will likely rely on them as a regular resource. Check out the documentation and resources they provide in addition — tutorials, webinars, and other learning materials may be your best friend as you get started with automation. Open source options will be lacking in providing actual human support engineers, but it also helps to have a robust user community, or rely on the support team from a third-party integration tool.
Who will be using it? – How many people will be using the tool? Will it mainly be used by automation engineers and developers who are familiar with programming, or will you need something a bit more flexible for different technical levels? Some automation tools will require programming knowledge and other technical expertise, while others may be better suited for beginners or those with little automation experience. Has your team done automation before? If you’re moving from manual to automated, it might be worth it to look at which tools will help with the on-ramp. Look at your options with a Record & Replay tool versus a scripting tool, and decide which option makes more sense. Keep in mind that some tools offer both, which may be helpful if you have a wide range of technical skill sets on your team.
What systems does your organization already have in place? – Your choice may be confined to a few pre-determined details in your organization and the way it already runs, so it’s important to look at the integrations. If your team works in specific programming languages, you want something that can support those and has documentation for them. You also want to think about unit and end to end frameworks, CI/CD platforms, open source tools, and even your methods of communication like Slack and Jira. If your new tool doesn’t work with your former tools, you’re going to have to find different workarounds. Instead, make life easier on yourself by scoping it out first.
What will you be testing? – Are you testing desktop, web, mobile applications, or all of the above? Some tools are better suited for testing different environments or for certain kinds of applications, but others will provide an all-in-one solution. How many browsers and devices will you want to test on, and which ones do you need? It may be a good idea to look at the most popular browsers and devices your customers using, so you can evaluate whether the tool you’re looking at that offers them for automation. Additionally, consider how many test cases you have that you want to automate and how expansive your application and test coverage is. Thinking about the need for the tool and knowing what you’re specifically looking to test is paramount to finding a solution that will help you achieve your business goals.
How is it to maintain tests? Like your application, your tests will change over time. In addition to building tests, automation also demands that you spend time on maintenance for reusability and editing. Does the tool keep a comprehensive history or archive of your test cases and suites? Is it simple reuse or rerun previous test cases for regression testing? How easy is it to go in and edit a test that may need to be changed? With automation, you have to think beyond the first execution of the test to determine longevity, which means you want the tool to support this as well.
What does reporting look like? – Perhaps the only thing as important as the execution of your tests is the reporting of your tests, which means that paying special attention to reporting features should be one of your considerations when choosing a test automation tool. How is reporting handled and displayed in the tool you’re looking at? Is it easy to share results with different team members, both within and outside the tool? Screenshots, notes, and tracking features can make all the difference when it comes to making results are properly communicated.
What are the requirements and nice-to-haves? – You should be going into your tool research with a checklist of requirements. Look at some of the previous touchpoints to decide what you need in a tool, and make sure that your choice checks all the boxes. However, some tools might overlap and you might find you have more than one option. In that case, it’s also a good idea to consider what value-add features would be nice to have. Keep in mind the complexity of the application, though — just because it’s large and popular doesn’t mean it’s the right choice. Make sure that features that are included are ones you use and that you’re not spending extra money or time on things your team doesn’t need.
Finding the Right Test Automation Tool
There is no one answer when it comes to finding the best test automation tool, and everyone will have a different opinion. At the end of the day, your choice should be what’s right for your team. Spending the time coming up with the most important criteria will ensure the tool you choose now and into the future as you continue to expand automation across your organization.