Creating test automation: Where to start and how to select test cases?

So, your boss told you to create a test automation for your company´s online shop? The checkout process is a subject of frequent customer complaints referring to application errors. As a good employee of course you excitedly confirmed this task and promised to get into the subject immediately.

Manual testing as well as test automation is a present topic in your company, so you find all necessary tools as well as a documentation pretty easily. Everything is installed in no time and you are ready to go.

But where to start? And how?

A good starting point might be existing test cases. Usually there are already tons of test cases available covering standard as well as special cases. You might have gotten a little bit frustrated at this time as you see a vast amount of work on your desk.

The good thing is, you don’t have to automate all tests cases. You might want to use the following criterias to select the right test cases and sell that limited set to your boss easily:

  1. Test the “Happy Path”: By testing the standard flow you can detect major problems easily that prevent your customer from placing orders. Besides you will cover the main features of your application.
  2. Test features that are constantly causing problems: Every application has its own notorious failing areas. Maybe calculating shipping costs has been broken several times in the past? Is the selection of payment methods a tricky step due to the involved logic? Focus on these topics.
  3. Exclude features that can’t be automated: For example in a specific test case you have to validate the confirmation email your customer receives after placing an order. There is no way to test such a feature using test automation. So focus on all the other test cases. Keep in mind that the absence of specific test cases won’t make your software quality worse, but creating additional ones will definitely improve it.
  4. Ask and talk: After all this work you should do a little bit of socializing. Ask co-workers about challenging areas in your online shop. Talk to customer services or ask your boss which features are most important to him. You will get some ideas which features you have to cover next in your test automation spree.

You should have a pretty good idea now about the scope of your test suite. You might want to give your boss a quick feedback and a list prioritized list of test cases you want to create – he will praise your structured way of working.

You know what? You have completed the most important task already! Just as in other situations, half the work is done when the mess of the new topic has transformed into a detailed plan about what to do. Based on your selection of test cases you might proceed now:

  1. Record the “Happy path” test case for the checkout
  2. Insert test data
  3. Structure and optimize your testcase
  4. Add further test cases as soon as the first one runs without problems.

Alright, then! You have successfully completed the first steps. Come back soon and stay tuned – we are going to post updates frequently!

5 thoughts on “Creating test automation: Where to start and how to select test cases?”

  1. Hi there Andrea,

    This is a great post for those starting out with test automation.

    One comment I would like to make is that contrary to what you say in point 3, a hosted email testing service such as ours (Mailosaur – https://mailosaur.com) can let you achieve automation around those harder bits such as validation of confirmation emails.

    I’d be happy to talk to you or any of your readers about how you can get up and running with us.

    Jonathan Mahoney
    jonathan (at) mailosaur (dot) com
    Managing Director, Mailosaur

  2. Hi Jon, we normally do not permit advertising links, but because your service targets QA professionals, we will make an exception.

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