Test Automation Strategy: A Checklist

Kasper Fehrend

Senior Product Evangelist at Leapwork

Test automation is a cornerstone in DevOps. But it’s not always the easiest to implement. When done well, it can increase the quality of software while keeping costs to a minimum. But without a test automation strategy, the true potential of test automation can often remain undiscovered.  

The question then becomes - how do you actually implement a strategy to avoid a short-sighted approach to test automation?

In this post, you’ll get the answers you need, and learn about:
Moving from manual and automated testing: what now?
Why test automation is essential to QA
How to build a test automation strategy

From manual to automated testing: what now?

Whether you’re regression testing, functional testing, or unit testing, it is first worth understanding where you lie in your automation journey.

Related reading: What to consider before starting your test automation journey

Are you manually testing or have you tried automation before? Depending on where you are, you will face different challenges. 

For example, you may have used test automation in the past. It may have failed because of the heavy development and maintenance required to keep tests stable. In this case, you would want your strategy to reflect the need for a low-maintenance, easy-to-use automation solution. 

Why test automation is essential to QA

Test automation speeds up software testing and limits the number of errors that make it to a production environment. By limiting time-consuming and tedious manual testing, bugs that may have slipped through the cracks because of human error can be avoided altogether.

Related reading: Why should I automate software testing?

However, not all test automation solutions bring the same results.

Fragmented market - Open-source or Licensed

For example, Selenium, a free open-sourced tool is a popular web automation solution for many testers. But it demands heavy maintenance, it takes time to learn because it requires programming skills, and it is dependent on expensive resources. 

Related reading: Codeless Selenium - how to automate with Selenium without coding

This excludes system experts from building test automation and often results in delays during the testing phase. 

The alternative?  A solution that reduces maintenance and is easy to adopt by those testing the system (largely business users and testers without programming expertise). So how can you translate these requirements into a strategy?

In the next section, we’ll highlight a checklist that will give you the ability to develop a plan of action with your team - no matter the level of programming experience they have. 

How to build a test automation strategy

As with anything in IT, there are two ways of doing things. You can 'save' a few days of planning and spend weeks testing and programming. Or, you can spend a few days developing a test automation strategy that will help you save valuable time during sprints - while improving your QA efforts long term. 

Related reading: How to measure the business value of test automation

We have created a checklist of areas to focus on when you want to start automating or want to optimize the current automation process.

Some of the items you might already be able to check off, while others will require some work - perhaps even help from external consultants. The strategy can be defined in broad terms as well as on narrow projects.

When creating a test automation strategy, you need to focus on:

  1. Scope
  2. Approach
  3. Risk analysis
  4. Environment
  5. Execution
  6. Release
  7. Failure analysis


Download the full test automation strategy checklist to get a detailed description of each and every step outlined above. Every minute that you spend planning your test automation strategy will contribute to decreasing the number of headaches afterward!

More of a visual learner? We've got you covered. Get immediate access to our on-demand webinar on building a successful test automation strategy.  

test automation strategy checklist cta visual