Testing is a crucial part of ensuring the quality of your business-critical processes. For businesses using ServiceNow, the ServiceNow Automated Test Framework (ATF) is an obvious candidate. But it’s not necessarily the best solution for your team if you want to scale your testing efforts while keeping resource spending low.
What you’ll learn in this blog post:
- What is ServiceNow Automate Test Framework (ATF)
- What are the benefits and limitations of ATF
- How can you test ServiceNow more quickly and easily than with ATF
- ServiceNow automation tool comparison: ATF, Selenium and Leapwork
What is ServiceNow Automated Testing Framework?
ATF is ServiceNow’s own framework for test automation. It’s an application that allows ServiceNow users to run automated tests on their ServiceNow instance. With it, users can verify ServiceNow applications and any customizations they have created within those applications.
Why test ServiceNow?
ServiceNow is custom to several updates a year, including major upgrades that improve the application and add new functionality.
Although these upgrades are intended to offer great benefit to businesses, they also come with a major drawback: They require extensive testing. Many teams simply don’t have the bandwidth for this, which means that they either postpone their upgrades or wait until they're forced to do them.
In addition to the regular upgrades, developers will also modify ServiceNow instances and customize things like field inputs, which also requires testing before release.
In fact, any change to ServiceNow, whether caused by internal development or external upgrades and changes to the environment, will need thorough testing. And it’s not just new functionality that needs to be tested - for the most part, it’s regression testing that’s causing the biggest pain in quality delivery, and that acts as a major time sink.
The consequences of skipping or rushing these tests, however, can be incremental. Any bug that’s pushed into production could have incremental consequences for ServiceNow users who put their trust into this application and rely on it for handling their customer data and business-critical processes.
ATF and other test automation tools can help teams overcome the challenges of testing in time for release, ensuring quality delivery at speed.
What are the benefits and limitations of Automated Testing Framework?
There are a number of benefits to automating ServiceNow. ATF is one test automation solution of many, and will be the right fit for some teams, while others will benefit from using an alternative solution.
In the following, we’ll outline some of the most prominent advantages and disadvantages of ATF, helping you make an informed decision about choosing a testing framework. In this connection, we also recommend reading our article on test automation frameworks and why they sometimes fail.
Benefits of test automation
The benefits of introducing test automation in general include making testing more efficient and speeding up the software delivery cycle, as well as reducing the risk of human error, which is a consequence of tedious, manual work.
With faster, more accurate testing, teams can identify bugs more quickly, when they are less costly to fix, and increase the customer experience and quality of the product for the end-user. Overall, a greater stability and confidence in the SDLC can be achieved.
Using ServiceNow’s own solution for test automation comes with some advantages.
Benefits of ATF
- Uses the same development language as ServiceNow: ATF can be used by developers who are already familiar with the ServiceNow development tools, meaning you won’t need to hire in additional specialists, if you can allocate these developer resources to testing.
- Adapts to UI changes: ATF accounts for ServiceNow user interface (UI) changes, and adapts the tests accordingly, instead of breaking them, which is a common issue with some third-party automated testing tools. This means that the maintenance burden is reduced to some degree with ATF.
- Includes support: Support is included from ServiceNow. However, the amount of training materials is limited, and developers must in some cases rely on user communities to resolve their issues.
- Includes scheduling: Scheduling is included in the framework. This allows you to run tests at frequent intervals, whenever needed. Particularly for teams working in an agile manner, fast feedback is critical, and scheduled regression tests can help increase the flow of information between developers and testers.
- Specific to ServiceNow: Because ATF is built into ServiceNow, it’s intended to fit your custom applications and unique configurations, and - with help from ServiceNow experts - you can configure the solution to meet your specific requirements.
Limitations of ATF
- Not an end-to-end solution: Although ATF can be configured to meet your business’ specific testing requirements within ServiceNow, bear in mind that ATF isn’t an end-to-end testing solution. Most modern IT landscapes are complex constellations that involve many applications, and testing processes in their entirety, and not just partially, is ideal for absolute confidence. For this, you’ll need a solution that can test every aspect of that landscape, not just ServiceNow.
- Limited testing capabilities: As ServiceNow write on their own page, ATF is intended to test the changes you make to your instance, but not to test base ServiceNow functionality. ATF is also not intended for unit tests, performance tests, or load tests. If your requirements lay outside this scope, you’ll need additional testing tools, which will add complexity to your IT landscape.
- No mobile/tablet testing support: ATF does not support mobile and tablet UI testing yet. Again, this means additional investment must be made if these interfaces take part in your business-critical processes.
- Dependent on developers: ATF is a testing solution that requires development resources. This means you’ll need to dedicate your technical ServiceNow experts to a job that is best performed by your business process experts - your testers. From a resource management perspective this is not ideal as it creates unnecessary bottlenecks and dependencies.
- Time-consuming set-up and maintenance: The initial configuration of ATF is time-consuming - even with dedicated ServiceNow developers. These developers should also expect to dedicate time to maintenance.
- No RPA capabilities: ATF is not intended for use in your production environment. In fact, ServiceNow warn against using ATF for this purpose. To automate in your production environment, you need a tool that is designed for Robotic Process Automation (RPA) (see the difference between RPA vs test automation). Although this might not be on the horizon of your business now, down the line, you’ll need to automate more in order to streamline activities and stay competitive.
When comparing the use of ServiceNow’s Automated Testing Framework to manual testing, you’re way better off with ATF. But automated testing is nothing new, and there are many more options for test automation today. In other words, the question isn’t “should you automate”, it’s “what will the benefits be and how quickly can you see them?”
ATF is far from an all-in-one solution. Although it provides specific functionality for ServiceNow testing, it’s still lacking critical features for end-to-end testing.
Perhaps with future updates, ServiceNow will provide a more comprehensive solution with more capabilities, but there’s a good chance that it will still be limited to testing ServiceNow, and that it will require ServiceNow experts for setup and maintenance. This means your IT landscape will grow unnecessarily complex over time and that your automation will be costly, also with time, making it difficult to scale.
For this reason, we suggest choosing an alternative to ATF.
Codeless end-to-end test automation for ServiceNow
Leapwork’s no-code test automation solution for ServiceNow lets you test every aspect of your ServiceNow instance, and more.
- Test end-to-end across technologies: A single Leapwork automation flow can span across multiple technologies, including ServiceNow, desktop, web and legacy systems. This allows you to continuously verify thousands of business-critical processes across operations.
- No-code automation built for business experts: Testing shouldn’t drain resources, so we’ve enabled everyone - from technical experts to business experts - to use test automation. Leapwork is based on a vision that all users should be able to develop without having to program.
- A smoother transition to agile: Testing shouldn’t stand in the way of change-readiness. With the most intuitive user interface on the market, Leapwork removes unnecessary complexity and code from test automation, allowing teams to collaborate on, create, maintain and scale tests with ease.
- Expand the scope of automation with RPA: Leapwork includes RPA capabilities that let you automate in the production environment. This means that you won’t have to make additional investments, when you wish to streamline repetitive, tedious tasks as a part of your digital transformation journey.
- Cover every aspect of your ServiceNow testing: With advanced testing capabilities, Leapwork’s platform gives you the power to schedule tests, report, troubleshoot via video logs, test in parallel, perform data-driven testing, and much more.
→ Learn more about the capabilities of Leapwork’s no-code test automation platform
→ Watch our on-demand webinar on ServiceNow test automation
→ Download our comparison chart of ATF, Leapwork and Selenium