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Salesforce Test Automation: How to Overcome Common Challenges

Maria Homann

Maria Homann

Testing Salesforce can be a major challenge for businesses trying to keep up with rapid development and ever-changing customer demand. Test automation helps improve speed and quality, but automated testing also brings its own challenges - it can be difficult to build and maintain, and it tends to become a bit of a time-sink.

The good thing is that, with the right strategy and tools, test automation can remove some of the pressure on QA teams and bring measurable benefits to product delivery.

In this blog post, we cover the basics of UI test automation for Salesforce, and discuss challenges in testing as well as methods for overcoming these.

Last, we propose a Salesforce testing approach that will make it easier for you to build, maintain, and scale Salesforce testing.

Table of contents

Why automate Salesforce tests?

Why are Salesforce tests difficult to automate?

How can you automate Salesforce?

Why automate Salesforce tests?

If you’re reading this article, you’re probably already considering automating some of your tests because you know the benefits it can bring.

If not, let’s quickly sum up these to shed some light on what QA teams can expect from automation.

Test automation is used to monitor applications and verify that processes are consistently performed as intended within Salesforce and between Salesforce and other systems and applications.

For example, a company might have a customer-facing website where users can purchase their products. Once a user purchases something, the business wants this information to be updated in Salesforce. Here, test automation can verify that that action was in fact performed, and can notify someone or take an action if it wasn’t.

Testing is also needed when updates are made to systems, for example if the business is transitioning to Salesforce Lightning.

On a small scale, it’s possible to perform system checks manually. But for large businesses, manual testing simply isn’t feasible. And without proper test coverage, risk is introduced.

Imagine, for example, a global enterprise that gets millions of visits on their customer-facing ecommerce site every day. If their system connections are down, even for a short amount of time, and they are not immediately notified, it can lead to a substantial loss of customers and profit.

With the increased speed and accuracy of testing that test automation provides, this risk can be mitigated.

In addition to reducing risk, test automation can also help increase test coverage, speed up the overall software delivery release cycle, and enhance product quality, by ensuring efficient and accurate testing.

To the business at large, this means reduced risk, reduced costs and competitive advantage.

Why are Salesforce tests difficult to automate?

Now that we’ve covered the benefits of test automation, let’s take a closer look at some of the things that make Salesforce automation difficult.

Although the Salesforce interface is designed in a way that offers numerous features and benefits to its users, the underlying software presents several challenges to those wishing to automate it.

Here are some of the reasons why Salesforce is difficult to automate from a technical perspective:

    • Frequent system updates: Salesforce regularly update their platform to enhance user experiences or fix underlying issues. Unfortunately, these changes can impact user customizations and even standard uses of the platform. For QA teams, this means a lot of maintenance, and with a code-based automation platform, it means they must make changes to the code.
    • Dynamic elements: UI elements that change with every test script run can be a real burden. Without an element locator strategy, maintenance of Salesforce tests will become a major time sink with every test run.
    • Iframes: In Salesforce, a new tab is a new frame. These frames are difficult to identify because the UI automation tool needs to identify the elements under the frame. This can be difficult to automate with a script-based tool like Selenium and you’ll need to add that script logic in yourself, a task only for experienced Selenium testers.
    • Heavy DOM structure: Salesforce’s DOM structure is heavy with a complex tree structure. This means that automation tools will need more time to access them.

Salesforce DOM structure

Salesforce’s heavy DOM structure

  • Element identifiers are hidden: Usually, a UI automation tool will need element details to identify visual elements in the application. Salesforce hides these for development purposes, making test automation difficult.
  • Shadow DOMs: Salesforce uses Shadow DOMs to isolate components. This makes it difficult to identify elements in UI test automation.
  • Custom pages in Salesforce: Salesforce has frameworks like Visualforce, Aura, apex and Lightning Web Components. These allow developers to develop their own custom pages on top of Salesforce Lightning. But with every release, the likelihood that customization will break increases.
  • Lightning and Classic: Most Salesforce customers have moved their environment to Salesforce Lightning. However, there are a few who are still using the Classic version. Testing both versions can be a nightmare for automation tools.

The next inevitable question is of course how best to overcome these automation challenges.

How can you automate Salesforce?

There are two main paths you can choose between for Salesforce test automation: code-based frameworks or no-code automation tools.

Code-based frameworks

There are various options to choose between when it comes to code-based solutions. Many opt for Selenium, a free, open-source framework that developers can get started with easily, if they don’t have a budget for a license solution.

The downside of Selenium is that it requires developers with strong programming capabilities. And because it requires code, it takes a lot of time to set up and maintain – time that could have been spent better elsewhere.

Read more: Can You Automate Salesforce Tests Using Selenium?

No-code automation tools

As opposed to code-based solutions, no-code test automation tools that use a visual language don’t require developer time for test setup and maintenance. Instead, any business user can automate. This frees up resources and removes the skills gap.

When developer or IT dependency is removed, the people in the organization with a deep understanding of Salesforce can contribute to test automation and quality assurance.

On the flipside, no-code automation isn’t free. But even though the startup costs are greater, the savings over time make up for this; no-code provides businesses with a quick return on their investment because setup and maintenance time is reduced significantly and the solution can be scaled without much additional cost.

No-code vs code-based over time

Leapwork for Salesforce test automation

Although Salesforce is a technologically complex platform, automating it doesn’t have to be. With Leapwork’s no-code test automation platform, unnecessary complexity is removed, making it easier to set up and maintain Salesforce tests.

Unlike most other Salesforce automation tools, Leapwork handles challenges like frame navigation, object dependency and dynamic content under the hood, so you don’t have to spend hours on modifying and updating tests at every run.

Here’s an overview of how Leapwork solves some of the main Salesforce automation challenges:

Common Salesforce challenges

How Leapwork helps

Navigating through frames

Leapwork uses smart visual recognition that only requires a single click to switch between frames.

Executing against dynamic content

Leapwork’s locator strategy allows dynamic web elements to be efficiently identified, with the option to tweak or change the chosen strategy as required.

Handling tables

Leapwork includes a row/table column-based strategy that can handle the complex tables in Salesforce out of the box.

Object dependency

Leapwork automatically maintains object dependency, complete with an oversight of the objects used for a flow.

Heavy DOM structure and shadow DOMs

Leapwork automatically captures elements within the DOM structure (including shadow DOMs).

Driving data

Leapwork enables the same use case to be executed for multiple Salesforce users with input from spreadsheets, databases, and web services.


Leapwork’s tests can run smoothly despite frequent updates, thanks to reusable cases, visual debugging capabilities, and video-based reporting.

Long steps for end-to-end testing

Leapwork’s smart recording, including recording sub-flows, enables automation of end-to-end use cases within a matter of minutes.

Synchronization issues

Leapwork building blocks have an inbuilt capability to cater to cater to the synchronization issues as it includes features like "Await DOM Change", "Await Requests" and dynamic timeout.

Test across Lightning and Classic, and Salesforce modules

Leapwork can easily automate across Lightning and Classic, Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud, CPQ and Billing. Leapwork also supports Salesforce Object Query Language (SOQL).

Learn more about Leapwork’s no-code test automation for Salesforce on our solutions page and in our webinar.

webinar how to automate salesforce testing without coding