Automated Mobile App Testing

When Is Automated Mobile App Testing The Right Solution?

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Automated mobile app testing seems like a silver bullet to the problem of testing your mobile app quickly and inexpensively. After all, computers can run tests faster than humans and don’t need breaks or time off. And, seldom does a day go by that you don’t hear a story about a business using process automation to improve their speed to market and lower their human costs. Seems like a good idea, right?

Well, one of my business mentors taught me that all my biggest problems started as a good idea that I failed to explore in detail before starting on it.

Here are three things you should consider before starting your automated mobile app testing.

Issues To Consider About Automated Mobile App Testing

  1. Automated testing is more expensive than manual testing but the cycles times should be shorter.
  2. Automated tests have to be constantly maintained and updated just like your mobile application.
  3. Automated tests with false positives are worse than no testing at all.

Speed Versus The Rise of False Positives

One of the primary benefits of automated mobile app testing is the speed at which the testing can be completed. Faster testing cycles means faster mobile app releases which allows you to seize more opportunities. The higher up-front costs for automated mobile app testing should be offset by faster release cycles. But, is your mobile app development team really ready to go faster? How much faster and what might happen if it’s too fast?

A distinct drawback to automated mobile app testing is the constant need to update your automated test scripts to match the new and changed functionality in your mobile app. An automated mobile app testing system can only test when it has been told to test and nothing more. If you change your mobile app, then you need to change your automated mobile app tests – every time.

And a common failure in automated mobile app testing is the rise of false positives over time. A false positive is when your automated mobile app testing systems reports a defect but it isn’t really a defect. Your mobile app is correct and your automated mobile app testing system is wrong. It is probably out of date and trying to test the last version of your mobile app and not the current version where functionality has changed. This results in false positives that have to be categorized, prioritized, verified and then resolved. If your automated mobile app testing system is reporting false positives, you will waste and enormous amount of time and money chasing them down.

The ideal situation for automating your mobile app testing is when you have a relatively stable mobile application and you and your development team are committed to increasing your process automation. The best reason to automate your mobile app testing is to improve your software release speeds and reduce human error due to repetition in your testing cycle.

Automating the testing of a relatively stable mobile app produces far better results than trying to automate a young or new mobile app. There is a minimum investment required to build a test automation harness that will then be filled with automated tests. A young mobile app presents a very difficult target to automate due to the highly dynamic and changeable nature of the app. A young mobile app, by definition, is subject to numerous changes as the team works to try a variety of different approaches to please their customers. Automated testing for a stable app is easier to build, less costly to maintain and more accurate in it’s results.

The Impact You Can Expect

Make no mistake, automated mobile app testing will have an impact on your development process. You’re probably using a small collection of dev automation tools to help you manage your codebase and produce a releasable version. Adding automated mobile app testing into your automation stack will require someone on your team to manage and integrate it into your overall system. You and your team will need to be ready for this.

Lastly, automated mobile app testing is more expensive than manual testing but it is faster and more accurate. Since that’s the case, the only really compelling reason (and it is compelling in a *lot* of cases) is to increase the speed and reduce the time needed to release new features into your mobile app. If getting “faster” isn’t a distinct market advantage, it may make more sense to look at other alternatives to automated mobile app testing.

Confused Yet?

Automated testing, especially for mobile applications, is an important decision and worth evaluating (and re-evaluating) on a regular basis. It can be an expensive investment and you’ll want to make sure you’re getting the biggest bang for your buck.

The best place to start is a conversation about what might be possible for you, the goal you’re working to achieve, the strategies available to you to achieve your goal, and the costs and benefits of each strategy.

I help managers straighten out their mobile testing strategies every day. Sometime I even get paid for it.  If you’d like to talk about your options, I’d  like to listen. Call me at 888-254-9709, or click the green button on this page to request a call back.