26 April 2017

Which is the best automated software testing tool for my organisation?

If you were expecting a ranked list of the best automated software testing tools, which is most likely heavily adulterated by promotional payments, you have come to the wrong place. Instead of giving you a ranking of tools, I will show you how to pick the testing tool that is the best fit for your purpose.

Unfortunately, unlike Tina Turner's epic song, there is no one testing tool that is "simply the best." Selecting a automated software testing tool is like choosing a life partner: your ex may not have been great for you, but they could be perfect for someone else. Just as we subconsciously select our spouses based on data points like personality, humour, looks, you get the drift, there are 7 elements of every software testing tool that you must consider before deciding which tool is best for you and your applications ecosystem.

Software testing tools appear to be a big issue as far as implementing highly effective testing programs are concerned. The World Quality Report 2016-17 reports that 45% of don't believe you have the right testing tools, especially for mobile and multi-channel testing programs:

It then makes sense that you are reading this now! We cover these topics in greater detail in our guide to 10x your testing effectiveness. But, in short, you need to consider 7 decision points before you select your testing tool of choice.

The non-negotiables

We always say that the best automated software testing tools include the some critical features, without exception:
All good software testing tools include test management, planning and execution. Only the best software testing tools also include automated test execution, automated scope selection and comprehensive debugging tools and analytics too.
Gone are the days where your test management, test execution and defect management can be spread across multiple tools. Disregard any software testing tool that does not have all of these features in one place. If you don't, then your team will be stuck in an arduous cycle where they spend more time learning and taming their testing tool, than actually using it to their advantage.

What are goals do you want your automated software testing program to achieve?

People who set goals and write them down make 10x more money than those who don't. Apply this theory and set your goals before launching your quest to find the best automated testing tool.

Unlike setting life goals, setting goals that help you select the right testing tool only requires you to answer one question: what is that that you want to achieve through a new testing tool? Is it:
  • Reducing the time it takes to test?
  • Making it possible for team members with no testing experience to execute automated tests?
  • Giving your developers videos and screenshots of bugs that are found during tests?
  • Using objective data to improve decision making about when to release apps?
  • Making sure bugs are found before your customers find them when using your application?
  • Being able to test a process across different applications and browsers in one test?
  • The need for a tool that doesn't needs weeks of expensive training before your team can use it?
  • The ability to conduct load tests using only your functional test scripts, with no effort duplication?

Answers to these questions will get you in a better headspace to accurately deduce which features of an automated testing tool will make a real difference in your organisation. In fact ranking these answers in a prioritised order will make the decision even clearer for you. However, without these answers, you leave yourself open to being easily influenced by meaningless sales-speak, upsells and cross-sells that will leave you even more confused.

Who will use your testing tool?

This is a question of resourcing. Do you have or want to employ a pool of highly proficient test designers and test automation engineers? Or would you rather outsource the development and management of automated tests while having non-testing users who are part of your team actually execute the tests?

There is no right answer to this question. But your answer will make a difference to the types of tools you can realistically invest in for your software quality program. Most popular testing tools require expensive resources and specialist skills just to operate them. Our customers enjoy a different experience where their non-test users can execute a batch of automated tests, analyse the results and assign defects to developers using our functional test automation tool and load testing tool. There's a lot to be said for a test automation tool that does not require weeks of training.

The other issue, often spoken about in hushed tones, with maintaining a specialist testing team is that good testers are hard to recruit and even harder to retain. What is the value proposition of your testing program that will encourage and compel a team of high quality testers to buck this trend?

Want to see how our test automation tools could save you weeks every time you test?

What does your applications ecosystem look like?

Do you have a few custom-build Windows desktop apps or is your company well and truly on its digital transformation journey? If you're going digital what part do mobile apps play in your applications ecosystem? If you do have digital applications that are used by thousands or even hundreds of people, do you need to optimise them for performance?

Assuring the quality of web and mobile applications that interact with other applications requires more than just test automation. It requires your automated software testing tool to include automated scope selection and risk-based testing. Such applications ecoystems also require a different level of interaction between the business, the test team and the development team. Download our guide to 10x the effectiveness of your testing program to understand how this needs to work.

Keep in mind that very few software testing tools allow you to test a user journey that travels across applications, browsers and mobile devices in one integrated test. If this is something you need to achieve the goals you identified above, then you need a testing tool that is built for digital.

You SHOULD want defect tracking and debugging capability in one place

In this SaaS age most developers and testers are used to using multiple tools to complete a task. Just because they are used to it, doesn't mean it is the right or best way to get the job done. In fact, the most common question we get during our sales discussions is, "I do my bug tracking in Jira, can Qsome integrate with Jira?" Our response, "yes, but how will that help you?"

What follows is usually a realisation that such a set up will make life even harder for their teams. The integration question above usually stems from the school of thought that says don't fix what ain't broken. While I would generally agree with that thinking, you have to really assess the impact of splitting up your bug tracking software with your test management, test planning and test execution tool.

Apart from the intuitive and user-friendliness of our testing tools, one of the things customers really like is the ability to send a defect, including video logs, screenshots and technical results, to the right developers with only two clicks. No need for emails or manual "please fix this" annotations. Your automated testing tool should make your life easier, allow it to do its job so you can do more with your time.

Do you have the capability to set up and maintain your automated testing tool or do you need something that just works?

This is an extension of the resourcing issue I wrote about earlier. But the fact that you're looking to invest in an automated software testing tool is that you want to maximise the green zone, right?
That green zone of benefit is constantly under pressure from a few factors that creep into every software testing program:
  • Using multiple Excel files to configure and execute automated testing scripts
  • Spending endless time and money just to maintain your testing tool and the infrastructure it needs
  • Ensuring that the required results of each test matches the data set it uses
  • Training required just to learn how to operate and maintain the testing tool
  • Ensuring a stable integration with your continuous delivery processes

One of the ways of protecting your green zone is by exploiting the cloud. Cloud-based software testing tools allow you to do away with much of the headache of maintaining expensive testing infrastructure for your testing tool. Do you want a tool that maintains itself and just works? Then you will like this.

Upfront licenses or monthly subscriptions on tap?

Spending half a million dollars to set up test infrastructure with onerous licensing terms was not unheard of for even small teams using yesteryear's testing tools. It makes infinite sense to us to take advantage of subscription-based pricing models where you can dial up or dial down the number of users that need access as and when they need that access.

In fact our Ultimate Guide to Test Automation recommends that you should ask for a proof of concept before you commit to a long term agreement to use a testing tool. After all, isn't software testing about minimising the downside while preparing for the upside?

You read all the way to the bottom because you have decided that automated software testing is going to be an integral part of your future software testing strategy. The selection of an automated testing tool to bring this strategy to life is key to your success. Download the Ultimate Guide to gain a detailed understanding of your key decision points. If you prefer talking to reading, speak to us about your goals and challenges:
Or contact us on +61 8 8312 1287 or solutions[at]qsometech.com

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