How to Determine What Kinds of Tests Should Be Automated: A Guide to Strategic Test Automation Selection

Determining which tests to automate is crucial in the realm of software development, as automation can significantly boost efficiency and reliability throughout the testing process. Automated testing serves as a steadfast ally, relentlessly executing prescribed test cases and instantly delivering feedback to developers. It enables the consistent validation of an application’s functionality, performance, and security without the tedium and error potential of manual intervention. As a strategic component of quality assurance, automated testing seamlessly integrates into the continuous development pipeline, escalating the quality of the software to meet the dynamic demands of users and markets.

Key concepts of automation testing by Functionize will illuminate what kind of tests benefit most from automation, when it is better to automate and what will you get from the process. The selection process should begin with recognizing tests that are repetitive and can run without manual oversight, such as regression tests where the same areas of an application need to be verified over and over again. Tests that are prone to human error due to their complex or monotonous nature are also prime candidates. Moreover, automation is a powerful instrument for making sophisticated testing scenarios simpler to manage, such as load testing where the application’s behavior under stress is measured. However, it’s not just about automating everything in sight; strategic planning ensures valuable resources are pointed where they will yield the highest return on investment.

A balanced automation strategy calls for a thoughtful approach, weighing the benefits of speed and repeatability against the initial costs of setting up and maintaining the automation suite. Automation should not replace all forms of testing but should be viewed as a complementary tool that enhances the strengths of manual testing where it shines—exploratory, usability, and ad-hoc tests, for instance. The aim is to create a cohesive testing framework that utilizes the best of both worlds, emphasizing accuracy, efficiency, and above all, the utility to shepherd the software through each phase of its lifecycle with confidence.

Identifying Tests for Automation

The process of identifying which tests to automate is crucial for a successful test automation strategy. This involves carefully analyzing test cases for their automation feasibility and potential benefits.

Defining the Scope and Feasibility

The first step in Defining the Scope and Feasibility involves the identification of the scope. This means understanding the extent of the test coverage required and the type of tests that could be automated. Common candidates for automation include regression tests, repetitive tasks, and tests that need to run on multiple configurations or platforms.

One should consider if the test automation aligns with the business goals and delivers a positive return on investment (ROI). Factors such as the initial cost of setting up an automation framework, the longevity of the application, and potential time-saving benefits are essential in determining the feasibility.

Evaluating the Automation Potential of Various Tests

When evaluating tests for automation, one must prioritize test cases based on their automation potential. Certain types of tests—like unit tests and integration tests—are inherently more suitable for automation. They are discrete and speedy, providing immediate feedback. On the other hand, manual testing might still be preferable for complex functionality or user experience-focused tests that require human intuition.

Testing teams should analyze each test case for its perceived benefits and challenges with automation. Factors like test stability, reusability, and maintainability play a crucial role in this analysis. Additionally, the choice of an automation tool is pivotal, as it should support the technical needs of the tests, for instance, supporting various languages or platforms.

Tests that exhibit high value but low complexity are promising candidates for automation, leading to increased efficiency and a more stringent QA process. Conversely, tests that are often subject to change may not be immediate contenders due to the need for frequent updates to automated tests, which can reduce the overall ROI. Hence, teams must strike a balance by selecting tests that make the most out of automation while complementing existing manual testing efforts.

Implementing Automated Testing

When approaching automated testing in software development, precision in selecting the right tools, establishing robust integration within development pipelines, and ongoing refinement of test suites are crucial for success.

Selecting Appropriate Tools and Frameworks

Selecting the appropriate automation tool is a foundational step in the implementation of automated testing. Open-source tools often provide the flexibility and community support desired for agile development practices. Tools should align with the project’s technology stack and testing needs. For instance, codeless test automation tools allow QA teams to automate tests without writing extensive code, enhancing efficiency. On the other hand, tools requiring code provide deeper customization and integration capabilities.

Building or Integrating into CI/CD Pipelines

Integrating automated tests into Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) pipelines is a key to achieving continuous testing and delivery. This integration ensures that automated tests are run consistently against new code changes, facilitating early detection of defects. The successful incorporation of automated testing within the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) demands regular documentation of test results to evaluate the effectiveness of the testing approach.

Maintaining and Improving Automated Test Suites

Maintaining automated test suites requires regular updates to tests as software development progresses. Automated testing should not be static; it necessarily involves continuous refinement to adapt to new features and changes in code. A beneficial practice is to review test suites periodically to remove redundancies and update test documentation. This iterative process ensures that the QA service provided by the automated suite remains effective and that tests continue to reflect the software’s current state.


When it comes to test automation, strategic selection is crucial for maximizing efficiency and maintaining a robust testing regime. It is essential to prioritize tests that are repetitive, have a high defect capture rate, and are critical for the core features of the application. Those involved in the testing process should define clear objectives and continuously review and adjust the test suite to align with those goals. In crafting an effective automation strategy, the balance between automated and manual testing must be carefully managed to ensure comprehensive coverage and high-quality assurance.


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