Quality Assurance (QA) in software development has come a long way since the days of manually designed, written tests. QA automation engineers have become hot commodities now that QA teams have turned to automation to streamline their testing efforts. In many cases, simple repeatable tests can be designed, automated, and run-on code at predetermined stages in the software development life cycle (SDLC). Hiring a QA Automation Engineer can save you time and money by allowing your developers to work more efficiently.
About 45% of QA testers say that more than 50% of testing at their companies is automated. As automation in QA becomes more widespread, new roles are developing for managing automated test design, implementation, and troubleshooting. One of the most prominent roles doing this is that of the QA automation engineer.
What is QA Automation?
Quality Assurance (QA) automation refers to the use of software to automatically test and report on another software. This differs from traditional QA testing in that it is far less manual and takes the load off of live testers that manually report their findings.
What is a QA Automation Engineer?
As the name implies, QA automation engineers oversee the testing automation in the SDLC. They do this by using various tools to combine software testing principles with their practical software development experience. With these skills, they add value by optimizing QA testing processes in line with continuous integration and continuous development (CI/CD) practices.
Some of their key responsibilities include:
- Defining verification protocols in tandem with development teams
- Collaborating with developers to resolve bugs
- Designing automated testing procedures
- Writing and implementing scripts for automation
- Troubleshooting testing automation pipeline issues
- Logging and reviewing bug detection reports and communicating problem areas
- Identifying quality issues and creating test reports
- Identifying weaknesses in software and areas at risk of defects
The ability to oversee the implementation and maintenance of testing makes QA automation engineers valuable assets to development teams.
What skills do QA automation engineers have?
Beyond possessing the soft skills that you would hope to find in all your engineers (willingness to learn, flexibility, customer centricity, etc.), there are some technical skills that are needed for this role:
- Experience in CI/CD
- Superior coding skills (Python, Java, SQL, etc.)
- Experience working with HTML and CSS
- Understanding of QA methodology fundamentals
- Knowledge of Page Object Model and Page Factory Design Patterns
- Experience using QA automation tools
Common types of QA automation tools
The sheer number of testing automation tools and solutions available can make understanding them difficult. A simpler way to look at these tools is by looking at how they’re used to improve QA efforts. For the most part, functional testing can be easily automated, whereas non-functional testing often requires manual testing approaches.
Even then, there are other considerations like cost or licensing agreements that might make one tool more popular than another. The following are the two most common types of QA tools used by QA automation engineers.
Open-source tools are perhaps the most popular choice for QA testing. This is largely due to their lower cost and the degree of freedom it allows for customizing automation needs. Open-source tools can be modified as needed by users, turning basic functionalities into highly specialized automation management tools. This is especially beneficial when it comes to more advanced testing use cases.
Some of the most popular open-source testing automation tools available today include:
Commercial tools are not as popular as open-source tools among QA automation engineers, but they do offer some advantages. Commercial tools are usually developed with QA use-cases in mind, are more business-focused, come with options for training/onboarding, and are backed by customer support. They also tend to have more accessible user interfaces and support low code or no code automation.
Another advantage is that commercial tools can usually be used out-of-the-box, meaning there’s less time spent on customizing or modifying source code to suit your specific QA needs. If the product doesn’t do what you need it to, you can always go to another vendor. While licensing commercial QA tools can be expensive, they’re useful investments when time and convenience are priorities.
Popular commercial QA tools on the market include:
Why QA Automation matters
QA automation is often used to design tests, write scripts, manage testing applications, and report results. Some of these tools require programming knowledge, while others operate using graphic user interfaces (GUI) and low code or no code approaches. Ultimately, they aim to make testing as easy and accurate as possible for both the testers and the rest of development.
Where are Testing Automation tools most useful?
Automating QA testing efforts is a great way to streamline development efforts in CI/CD environments. However, applying automation tools without a clear strategy can easily produce the opposite effect. Rather than improving testing, it may lead to prolonged testing phases and erroneous results.
Automation for QA testing is best utilized in specific development contexts. While QA automation engineers are best suited for determining when and where it should be implemented, the following are a few areas where automation can add the most value.
- Open testing projects
Ordered Test cases
Multilingual application testing
Large-scale regression testing
QA automation as part of Digital Transformation
QA testing is an integral part of guaranteeing high-quality products and experiences to delight customers and improve ROI. Automation is one of the best ways to streamline testing efforts to promote efficient development and improve software quality. Naturally, determining when, where, and how automation should be implemented and finding the most suitable solutions to use are important considerations. This is what makes QA automation engineers so important.
As more businesses move towards digital enterprises, demand for scalable, reliable, and robust software development grows. Thanks to new development frameworks and tech innovations, scaling up digital products to meet customer needs doesn’t have to be difficult. Learn more about how better QA testing can improve software development efforts here.
About the authorJuan Pablo González
Working as Foreworth’s Chief Technical Officer, Juan Pablo (JP) manages the company’s technical strategy. With nearly 20 years of experience in software development, he ensures the development process at Foreworth is meeting its keys objectives and technical requirements.More info →