April 2010 - Monthly Newsletters

Uniting your Automated and Manual Test Efforts

This month's newsletter describes how to determine what test cases are best for automation and how to plan new releases with a mix of both automated and manual tests.  We conducted a webinar last month on this topic, if you wish to see the entire webinar, see it here:

:: Recorded Webinar in Flash format:
:: Recorded Webinar in Windows Media format:

Automated Test Cases

How to get started with Test Case Automation?
Test Case automation is kind of like investing.  It takes time, effort, and planning upfront but can yield big benefits in the future in terms of return on investment and time savings.  So how should we get started?

  • Start Small - Find a small project you can automate so that you can learn from the automation before you plow your efforts into a larger project.
  • Smoke Test - For larger projects, automate your smoke tests (smoke tests are a small number of test cases you run when you first get a new build to ensure that the basics work).
  • Build up to a Regression Suite - When considering automation, focus on creating automation for regression testing (to test that you did not break existing features with new features you are implementing).  Start by automating a small subset of regression and build the regression suite over time.

What to Automate First?
Time is finite, so if we plan to automate, where should we spend our time to get the most bang for our buck?

  • Frequently Performed Test Cases - Don't waste time automating test cases that are rarely performed.
  • Time Consuming - Test cases that take a lot of time to perform manually are good candidates to automate because it can save real time quickly.
  • High Precision - Test cases that take a high degree of precision (must be exactly right or it could cause major issues) are good candidates to start first.

Other Automation Considerations
When automating test cases, you want to ensure that you design your test automation in a way that fits your team size and how you plan to grow.

  • Small Teams - If you have a single automation engineer, you can organize your automated test cases using folders.
  • Large Teams - If you have more than one automation engineer, you will need to share your automated tests.  Consider creating a project suite with multiple projects and folders so that team members can work independently on specific areas of your automation.
  • Source Control - No matter if your automation effort is large or small, always place your automated scripts in a source control system.  This protects you from loss of data and allows you to version your test scripts.

Manual Test Cases

Why continue doing Manual Test Cases?
Not all test cases can or should be automated, here are some considerations:

  • New Features - When developing new features of your software, test them with manual test cases until those are in production.  Then you can convert those to automated test cases once the feature is stable.
  • Visual Confirmation - Some test cases need a set of eyes on them to ensure it works correctly.  You will find that some of your regression tests may stay manual due to this requirement.

Best Practices for Test Cases Management
When planning your test management process, it is important to follow best practices.  This will ensure that you have solid test coverage and that your process is effective and repeatable. For your convenience, you can download our Test Best Practices document here: It covers these topics:

  • Smoke Tests - Explains what smoke tests are and how to integrate them into your test planning.
  • Positive Tests - Explains how to create test cases that test the features the way they were designed.
  • Negative Tests - Explains how to create test cases that test the features outside of the way they were designed.
  • Relational Tests - Explains relational testing and how this can benefit the quality of your release.
  • Performance Tests - Explains how to ensure your application is speedy and responsive.
  • Traceability - Explains methods for ensuring you have good test coverage.
  • Reviews - Explains how to use test case reviews to drive better test case development.
  • Defect Best Practices - Explains how to properly log and resolve defects.

Trending your Automated and Manual Test Effort

A benefit of bringing your manual and automated tests together is that your team can begin trending your overall test effort for both your automated and manual efforts together or independently. Once you reach this stage, the trending can help you make better decisions that can drive higher product quality.  Below is an example of how trending might look:

If you wish to learn more about this and other topics, see our past webinars at

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Helpful Software Testing Tools and Templates

Below are some helpful software testing resources and templates to aid you in developing software solutions:

About the Author

Steve Miller is the Vice President of ALM Solutions for AutomatedQA. With over 25 years of experience, Steve has extensive knowledge in project management, software architecture and test design. Steve publishes a monthly newsletter for companies that design and develop software. Be sure to check out our other newsletters.
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