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How mobile automation testing can help save costs

(Image credit: Image Credit: MNBB Studio / Shutterstock)

Mobile automation testing has benefits such as being faster, more accurate, reliable and less costly. The process involves using automatic tools to execute predefined test actions on mobile apps. However, the mobile app development companies need to plan well, define the scope of automation and select the right tools. In addition, a good automation strategy ensures success and better ROI.

Challenges mobile automation testing addresses

Testing mobile apps to ensure that they will work on different devices, operating systems, and software versions is usually a challenge due to the diversity of hardware, software, connectivity, and operating environments.

Some of the challenges developers face when testing mobile applications includes;

  • Multiplatform compatibility issues which increase the complexity and time for testing applications
  • Different types of connectivity and modes such as Wi-Fi, Edge, 3G, 4G, roaming, etc.
  • Lack of reliable testing tools
  • Difficult end-to-end testing due to the variety of devices and platforms. This type of testing establishes how the app integrates with other systems and ability to seamlessly connect to the back end, access data and present results on the front end.
  • Difficult end-to-end testing due to the variety of devices and platforms. This type of testing establishes how the app integrates with other systems and ability to seamlessly connect to the back end, access data and present results on the front end.

Carrying out all the tests manually is time-consuming, prone to errors and costly. In addition, it is practically impossible to manually test all the apps on thousands of combinations of different types of devices, operating systems and conditions.

However, automation, which has a wider coverage and scalable, has the ability to perform the tests faster, easily, efficiently and at lower costs. Automation has the potential to reduce the testing time and cost by 20 per cent and 40 per cent respectively. Usually, it is not possible to entirely eliminate the manual tests. As such, the best practice is to use automation to supplement the processes in manual testing.

For mobile automation testing to work, the software company needs to

  • Set reasonable expectations
  • Treat the mobile test automation as a component of the software development cycle
  • Develop a clear strategy
  • Assign adequate resources for automation
  • Be flexible to learn and adjust accordingly

Where is automated testing applicable

Unlike manual testing which is time-consuming, cumbersome and costly, automated tests are faster, easier, and less costly. Generally, automation is ideal for a wide range of repetitive tasks as well as performance and regression testing. It supports testing of native, web and hybrid apps.

Mobile automation testing is applicable to both functional and non-functional tests. In particular, it allows the software companies to perform cost-effective

  • Unit testing
  • GUI testing
  • API testing
  • Integration tests
  • Smoke tests
  • Regression testing
  • Acceptance testing
  • Apps performance testing and more

There are mobile-specific test scenarios that ensure that the software will work on target devices and market. The main issues to check are;

  • The ability for users to download and install the app in all supported devices
  • The app runs as designed on all target devices, OSs and environments
  • Successfully interact with the backend infrastructure and supporting services
  • Ability to push updates to the apps whenever they are released and consequent acceptance by end users. Alternatively, the ability to automatically update existing software whenever there are newer versions or patches
  • Withstanding fluctuations or reduced levels of the network signal levels, storage and battery

Benefits of automated testing

Automated testing enables the developers to easily and quickly check the new apps and updates for errors, defects, and other weaknesses. Manual testing is usually time-consuming, tedious, costly, and requires higher technical skills and manpower. Because of the time constraints in the manual testing methods, it is sometimes difficult to test each feature of an application and this may leave several weaknesses that affect the performance and user experience when the app enters the market.

By automating the repetitive tasks, the automated testing offers benefits such as;

  • Ability to perform tests quickly than when using manual methods
  • Run tests on multiple devices simultaneously
  • Reusable tests that Quality Assurance teams can use on different versions of the app
  • More reliable, accurate, and ability to eliminate the human error factor
  • Wider coverage and comprehensive testing that covers almost every feature of the software under test.
  • Ability to analyse complex features of an app
  • Better ROI
  • Lower manpower requirements and costs
  • Ability to run tests anytime hence saving time

Easily perform cost-effective cross-platform tests

Most apps are designed to work on a wide range of devices. As such, there is a need to test them on different combinations of devices, operating systems, and versions. A manual method would take a lot of time and delay the release of the app to the market. However, using automation tools enables the teams to quickly test a wide range of devices with different configurations and operating environments.

In addition, it eliminates the need to purchase the different types of target devices for testing purposes hence reducing testing costs further.

Reducing the testing time and cost

Software companies are nowadays facing time limitations and have to meet tight deadlines to develop and release apps, updates of additional features. However, maintaining quality requires testing the apps and addressing any issues before releasing them to the market.

Manuals tests are usually time-consuming and may not be appropriate under such conditions. As such, automation helps to ease the work and make it faster; hence allowing the companies to meet tight deadlines while maintaining quality.

The automatic tools enable the teams to quickly test the app at various stages of the development cycle. This enables the QA teams to identify problems faster and fix them in good time hence shortening the time to market. Generally, automated testing reduces the man-hours, hence, savings on the development costs.

In addition, the teams do not spend a lot of time looking for problems but rather creating better apps and user experience.

Schedule test execution any time of the day

Automation gives the ability and flexibility to execute tests at any time and from anywhere. It gives the ability to remotely schedule and run tests, as well as analyse the results. This eliminates the need for a staff member to be physically present or be in possession of the testing hardware and resources.

By enabling the company to use its resources 24/7, automation provides a better ROI and ability to perform the tests in the shortest time possible.

Reducing business expenses

Automation reduces the amount of work that team members need to perform to test the apps manually. As such, the company can utilise its manpower much better and spend time on doing more productive works as opposed to carrying out repetitive and time-consuming tasks.

Improving the morale of the development and QA teams

Using the automated tools eliminates the time-consuming and repetitive testing tasks by the staff, hence giving them more time to dedicate to rewarding projects and other challenging duties.

Mobile testing automation strategy

Each software company must develop a suitable testing automation strategy so as to reduce testing time, shorten time to market, minimise QA bottlenecks and deliver great apps. A good strategy ensures cost savings, efficiency, and success in automated testing. This requires an understanding of the app to test, deciding which areas to automate, developing a good testing plan, choosing the right automation tools, platforms and frameworks.

Mobile testing automation tool

The tool selection is critical since it impacts on the outcome of the test results. Generally, there is no single automation tool with the ability to achieve all the testing goals. Most companies rely on a combination of solutions. However, it is important to analyse or review the performance of each tool that a developer intends to use.

Important factors to consider include checking

  • The tool specifications, features, abilities, and ease of use. This determines if it will meet current and future testing needs.
  • If it is compatible with the mobile apps that require testing
  • Supports for multiple programming languages
  • Ability to support the generation of reports
  • Flexibility, scalability, and support
  • Cost and budget

Type of application

When developing the automation strategy, it is important to understand the type of the app to test. Generally, each of the three main types of apps, (native, and hybrid and web apps) has unique testing requirements. As such, understanding the app will help the QA teams to develop a suitable strategy that will ensure reduced costs while improving the test coverage and results.

Planning the test cases

It is important to develop test cases that clearly show the steps, requirements as well as expected results and data. In addition, the plan should be clear on which type of tests to conduct, whether functional or no- functional, as well as important parameters such as the type of defects to look for, the coverage area, etc.

The plans must include ways to establish how the app behaves under different scenarios such as when there are network problems, unreliable traffic, low storage, low battery or multiple apps running, etc.

Tests to automate

Despite the many benefits, it is not possible to automate all the tests. As such, it is important to determine what requires automation.

The potential tests where automation is ideals include;

  • Repetitive and time-consuming tasks
  • Load testing
  • When there is need to execute many tests cases on a wide variety of hardware devices, software platforms, versions of operating systems and configurations
  • Testing apps that require multiple data sets
  • Tests cases that are easy to automate
  • Test cases that have predictable results
  • Where manual testing is impossible

Premium and free automation tools

Today, there is a wide range of powerful premium and free automation tools that developers can use to streamline and improve their testing processes.

With a proper strategy and planning, automation offers multiple benefits including a significant reduction on testing costs, time and errors while allowing them to create better and reliable apps. However, the cost of deploying an efficient and comprehensive premium automation testing infrastructure is usually high and may have an ROI of about 2 years or longer.

Due to the high initial investment, most startups or small companies with limited budgets may find it a challenge to automate. However, they have the option of turning to the free open source automation tools that are equally effective. However, they may lack some advanced features, but they are adequate for automating most of the basic processes.

Most of these have upgrade options that allows the software developers to access advanced features as their requirements grow.

Conclusion

Automated mobile testing provides a faster and efficient process with wider coverage and better results. This is ideal for repetitive tasks and has the benefits of reducing the time as well as the cost of developing and testing mobile apps.

Ideally, the software companies should aim at automating almost all the testing, and only use manual where the automation cannot work or is not economical.

Stella