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Best Practices for Building Maintainable and Scalable Test Automation

Maria Homann

Maria Homann

There’s a major difference between automating twenty test cases and automating 2000 test cases; while it’s completely possible to take an ad-hoc approach when there are only a few test cases, it becomes an entirely different story when test cases run into the thousands.

Enterprises who have begun automating tests, and eventually tried to scale that automation, will know that it pays off to take a strategic approach that follows a thought-through plan and best practices, and that utilizes the right tools.

If you’re looking to build test automation that scales, it’s a good idea to take a step back, carefully consider the process that lies ahead, create a test automation strategy, and decide which tool will serve you best and let you achieve truly scalable automation that you can maintain with ease.

Even if you’re not looking to scale right now, but just at the starting point of your automation journey, automation yields the best benefits if it is created by following best practices from the beginning.

Below we briefly outline best practices which you can follow as you build your suite of automated test cases. You can see an extended version of the following points in the guide linked below.

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1. Identify what to automate

Automate too little and the ROI of test automation will be low as you’ll spend too much time on initial setup and learning, compared to the time saved on the automated tasks. Automate too much, and you’ll risk spending an unnecessary amount of time on maintaining tests that aren’t giving you sufficient value.

Learn how to calculate the ROI of test automation.

2. Build your test automation flows

There are a number of best practices you want to follow when building test cases. In summary, you want to build isolated flows, rethink the way your manual test cases are built, build reusable flows, create naming conventions, and parameterize.

3. Test frequently

If you have the right automation setup and the right tool, you can run more test execution cycles. If your test suites are large, you can set up parallel testing to test wider and shorten the testing cycle. The end goal is to achieve continuous testing where you always have an up-to-date quality status on all builds.

4. Finding a test automation tool

A key indicator for scalability is the level of coding the tool requires; is it code-based, low-code, or no-code. Does the tool integrate with your CI/CD pipeline. Last, try to find a tool that will allow you to follow the best practices for building and executing your flows.

Instead, it can be an advantage to start out with a codeless Selenium tool that uses Selenium under the hood, but hides the complexity by using a visual language rather than code.

5. What next?

Now that we’ve covered best practices and tool guidelines for maintaining and scaling test automation, it’s time to shed some light on test automation strategy.

Download our test automation strategy checklist and learn how to build a strategy that is result-oriented and cost-effective.

Access the Leapwork test automation strategy checklist