How To Select A Test Automation Tool

In today’s highly dynamic, complex, and volatile world of software development, the goal of every software development organization is to deliver superior quality products. The basic criterion is that the software should be bug-free. However, despite the efforts and precautions taken to deliver the best output, most teams will agree that defects always seem to creep in once the product is up and running in production.
 
In such a situation, software testing becomes critically important, and organizations are always looking to increase code coverage and accelerate the testing. This is where Test Automation comes into the equation. There are a variety of Test Automation tools that are available as both open source as well as licensed. These tools have multiple features and claim multiple benefits. Clearly, it is critical to choose the right automation tool as each one has its own challenges such as implementation complexity, training need, usability aspects, overall productivity and timeline impact, cost-effectiveness and so on. Here is a suggested list of factors for organizations to consider before selecting the right test automation tools:
 
Identify the scope and conclude on technical feasibility

As the first step, it is important to identify the complete scope requirements and various development technologies involved in the architecture of the application under test . The requirements need to be clear, precise, and thoroughly reviewed before the tool selection process comes into the picture. Once the requirements are well documented the appropriate tools should be shortlisted which can best meet the needs with lesser cost and implementation effort – but more about those issues later.
 
Building the business case

Organizations must first decide on their desired Return on Investment or do a cost-benefit analysis before selecting the right tool based on the scope of the project. As per the results, if the analysis of the outcome is that implementing the tool will considerably improve productivity of test execution or considerably reduce testing effort then it should be pursued further. Some of the automation tools can help create automated tests without the need to code – this impacts the type, and hence the cost of resources to be deployed. The cost of developing tests by hiring specialists versus the cost of investing in the automation tool needs to be compared and analyzed.
 
Open source vs licensed tools

There is little doubt that licensed tools have more inbuilt features, but they always come with a higher cost. For smaller and mid-size projects, open source tools along with minimal customization can serve the purpose rather than investing in licensed tools. Some of the open source tools have limited features, for example, they can execute only specific tests or have support for specific languages or operating systems, whereas some of the licensed tools have multiple features and functionality. The pros and cons of choosing the right tool need to be weighed. In the case of licensed tools, the post production or after sales support from the vendor needs to taken into consideration as well.
 
Proof of concept

Before finally drawing a conclusion, sometimes it may be advisable for organizations to do a small proof of concept project with the automation tool that is selected. Setting up the correct success criteria is an important aspect of a proof of concept for objective decision making. Licensed tools often have trial versions which can be downloaded and used for the proof of concept. Doing a proof of concept also gives an idea if test automation is indeed required or manual testing can suffice. Based on the outcome of the proof of concept organizations can narrow down the automation tool that best suits their needs which could be generating test results in a specific format, simple to implement, better test coverage, etc. In case the proof of concept is not successful or does not produce desired results, it can help to save time, effort and costs for the organization before the full-fledged project is executed.
 
Tools with enhanced features

As stated earlier, it is a must to choose the automation tool which fits the organization or project requirements. However, many automation tools have additional nice-to-have features which can benefit the organization in the long run. For a large organization working on several projects, it is good to have best of the breed automation software. Additional features like cross-platform and multi-language support, mobile device support, ability to connect to multiple test data sources, ability to generate detailed reports, integration with automated build software, and version control tools are few of the add-ons which an organization needs to consider.
 
Selecting the right automation tool is not a simple task and needs to be given considerable thought. This is because a wrong choice or decision may severely impact the project, the testing phase, or the end business goals. What has been your experience of choosing a test automation tool – what factors did you take into consideration?