22 Reasons Why Test Automation Fails For Your Web Application

Ramit Dhamija

Posted On: September 11, 2019

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Read time19 Min Read

I can relate to the feeling where you wish to achieve flawless automation testing in the blink of an eye! On the other hand, I also understand the apprehension that is causing you to delay test automation. When an enterprise has just begun the transformation, there are a plethora of challenges to overcome. Even if you apply the best practices, some shortcomings can result in wastage of automation efforts. So, I’ve decided to list out 22 reasons that in my experience, are responsible for automation testing failure.

If you’re new to Selenium and wondering what it is then we recommend checking out our guide – What is Selenium?

1. Impractical Expectations – A 100% Automation

The very first test automation failure reaps from impractical expectations. I have observed it many times in my career, once you get an automation QA or staff on-board then the management expects them to automate testing for everything. As pleasing as it may sound, it is not possible. You can’t go for a 100% automation testing as there are going to be few areas where human inspection would be mandatory. One of these areas could be around the accessibility of your web application or more.

For instance, if you are performing automated cross browser testing then the automation script for Selenium testing will render the display of your web pages across different browsers or operating systems. However, to decide if the website is rendering as per design, if the typography is well, if the text is appropriate is best evaluated manually.

2. What To Automate & How Much To Automate?

Many organizations do realize the problem statement of expecting a 100% automation testing but often struggle with the following question. What can we automate & if not 100%, then how much automation can we achieve realistically for our web product?

There is no perfect percentage or approximate figure for automation testing coverage that is applicable to every business. It all depends upon the web application that you are offering, and since different businesses are catering to different needs. It is only natural to expect a unique expectation around how much percentage of automation testing can one realistically go for? The scope of automation testing will differ from an e-commerce web-applications to static, dynamic, or animated web applications. So, if you are wondering why automation testing fails for your organization? Then I would recommend you to evaluate the amount of automation testing required based on the type of web-application you are offering.

3. Improper Management Leading To Lack Of Visibility For Test Automation

I have been a victim of improper management back when I started my IT career as an automation tester. I was working for a Service-based company and they allocated me my first project. This project had been running for a couple years then and I was handed over a list of test automation scripts, right after I joined. The higher-ups of the project were about to leave the organization and the management was too busy with the upcoming sprints to consider a thorough knowledge transition sessions from the senior automation testers who were about to leave. What happened after they left wasn’t a pretty sight? We were slammed with outages, and me being a fresher with minimum knowledge of how the various outbound and inbound processes were being impacted by numerous automation scripts, was at the hearing end from my manager. However, when I look back to that scenario I realize that it wasn’t entirely my fault.
I have seen teams with a handful of members in charge of implementing automation while the others are clueless about what’s going on.

Don’t you think it’s a bit unrealistic to expect magic out of automation testing when half the team lacks visibility? Since automation has to be a collaborative effort, it is important to educate every team member about the related tools and processes, especially the freshers. You can accomplish this by holding team meetings and sessions to discuss tools, trends, and practices related to automation.


4. No Understanding Of Manual Testing Or Exploratory Testing

This may surprise you a little, another reason why test automation fails for you could be the lack of manual testing skills, or exploratory testing skills. Automating your test scripts doesn’t mean that team members can cut themselves some slack. As we know by far, that an automated approach doesn’t cover everything and that is where the challenge begins. Because now you have to dig deeper into your web-application and find critical test scenarios that were not yet revealed by your teammates.

Automation is a way to save testing efforts. Software companies should use it to minimize repetitions and automate only those elements that are less prone to changes. Once that is done, the company should allocate their resources to perform extensive manual testing or exploratory testing to find unique test cases.

Read More: Exploratory Testing: It’s All About Discovery

5. Not Thinking Through And Scripting The Scenario

Automation seems like a one-stop destination for minimizing efforts. But a well-thought-out scenario is a must, before developing a test automation scripts. Moreover, it can take a substantial amount of execution time of your automation tests. The flexibility of frameworks and test automation tools plays a crucial role in how much time it takes to develop a scripted scenario.

Since every scenario is different, scripting is a must. Even if you think it through, it’s all a waste without scripting the scenario. Ensure that the coding skills of your test engineer are at par with the complexity of the tests. Complex tests take a lot of time to automate. Therefore, with the development of brand new features, they often don’t get a chance to discover regression bugs. Make sure you keep these things in mind before you write down your test scenario.

6. Lack Of Understanding About When To Use Automation And When Not To!

The most common reason behind “why test automation fails for your company?” is that the people are not aware of when to automate and when not to. For instance, it’s alright to automate different webpage functionalities. But it’s not a good idea to evaluate the padding, images, etc. rendering issues through test automation. If you are using coordinates to determine element locations, it can lead to discrepancies when run on varying screen resolutions and sizes.

It’s not viable to use automation when you are testing something prone to a lot of changes. If you are testing out a stable entity, automation is the way to go. Basically, mundane tasks that require a certain action to be repeated are best suited for automated testing. So test automation can comfort your regression testing process.

7. Improper Selection Of Staff And Resource Planning

I have seen a false belief rampant in the IT industry. People think that any developer or tester can carry out test automation. Design, configuration, and implementation of test automation calls for a specific skill set. A tester carrying out automation should know how to articulate ideas between managers, developers, and customers. He/she should also have a clear understanding of development trends and should know what the development team is headed to.

Automation test engineers are some of the most difficult, yet, significant hires. To kickstart various automation projects, it is essential to hire testers with extensive technical knowledge. Instead of one or a few people carrying out automation testing, the entire team should be aware of what’s going on. Even though the investment in hiring technically sound staff is high, the return is worthwhile.

8. Not Paying Enough Attention To Test Reports

Since automation testing is a relatively new phenomenon, chances of failure are high. There are so many new experiments the testing team conducts that it becomes important to analyze the results accurately. After carrying out the tests, the tester has to make a thorough test report. But here is why test automation fails for you! Your team is not paying enough attention to test report analysis. If not carried out properly, the analysis can leave faults unattended and cause wastage of time, resources and efforts.

Some tests succeed and some fail in automated testing. Therefore, it is mandatory to examine test reports for faults and analyze the reason behind the failure of certain tests. It is better to conduct the analysis manually so as to uncover genuine failures. It is vital to unmask hidden problems and make sure that they don’t get overlooked due to masking by other issues.

9. Bottom-Up Approach In Defining Your Automation Goals

Setting too good to be true objectives for automation seems perfect on paper. But when it comes to executing the steps, there is a severe lack of clarity among team members. The biggest problem is that the goals are vague. They lack precision and accuracy for obtaining real value from automation. What most firms do is that they start automating something very complex and end up refactoring the whole framework. As a result, the team ends up losing a lot of time, money, and effort.

You can eliminate uncertainties by starting small and working your way up to complexities. Pick out stable functionalities and begin with their automation initially. After that, gather feedback to determine what’s wrong. Once you achieve consistency in their testing, continue with other functionalities. Have a customized approach for test automation since needs can vary for different project contexts.

10. Selection Of The Right Tool For Efficient And Effective Testing

With a plethora of automation tools out there, sometimes it becomes challenging to choose the best. Improvement of the overall testing procedure and meeting real requirements is the end goal. But most teams fail to shift through the chaff and pick out the tools that best suit their testing needs. Automation testing is, without a doubt, highly dependent on the tool you decide to go ahead with. Every tool has specific capabilities. But teams lack the level of expertise needed to get the best out of these capabilities.

Moreover, firms get caught up in the hype of a particular tool. But after opting for it, they realize that it doesn’t provide everything that they were hoping to get. Plus, every team has a budget and sometimes the cost of the tool exceeds that. Before jumping on to choosing a hyped tool, carefully line out the requirements. After that, decide what you are expecting from the tool. Be very specific in setting goals and check the correspondence with user acceptance criteria for products. You can also consult experts who are experienced with the use of these tools.

Talking about automation testing tools, if you are looking to perform automated cross browser testing on cloud then LambdaTest offers you a cloud-based Selenium Grid with 3000+ real browsers and operating systems, along with integrations to multiple third-party CI/CD tools.

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11. Ignoring False Negatives & False Positives

This is something which is often observed in almost every organization. Once the automation test suites are ready and they seem to work fine, the management starts to relax. They start slacking off on in-depth analysis of test execution as they believe that only pass-fail checking will do enough. But this is why test automation fails for them!

Sometimes, a system works fine fundamentally. However, automation scripts don’t reflect the same. They state otherwise and cause a false positive scenario. Thus, it creates a situation of confusion and wastes time, effort, and resources. I have seen how frustrating it is for the testing team trying to find something that isn’t there!

Another scenario is that when the automation script gives the green signal and there is something wrong. The system isn’t working as it should but the script declares otherwise. Network issues can cause discrepancies in the test environment settings. This occurs due to a lack of accuracy in the beginning stages of a database. Leaving a system in a compromised state can cause catastrophic consequences in the long term.

12. Web Elements With Undefined IDs

It is mandatory for every web element to have an ID to execute efficient testing. But sometimes, the developers fail to allot IDs to all web elements and this is why test automation fails. In this case, the automated script has to find these web elements which takes up a lot of time. Moreover, if the script is unable to find these elements within a prescribed time frame, the test fails. Thus, to ensure proper synchronization of the script, the team has to allot unique IDs to all web elements.

13. Not Leveraging Parallel Execution

So, you ended up automating everything you wanted to automate. You end up with humongous test suites, and only now, you start hitting the wall. These complex test suites take up longer time for execution than you anticipated. Which starts to compromise with the quality of the test queue in your respective IDE, test automation framework. As a result, the test cases are halted abruptly due to Queue timeout issues, all because you are executing them sequentially. Sequential execution of test cases is another reason why test automation fails for your web application.

Unlike the sequential running of tests, parallel execution enables the execution of multiple tests in different environments at the same time. But automated testing can cause unintended code interactions. It makes it challenging to debug the cause of the failure so you need thorough reporting mechanism, offering detailed insights regarding your test execution.

LambdaTest provides a Selenium Grid which allows you to perform Parallel Testing with Selenium.

14. False Estimations Of ROI Through Test Automation

Irrespective of what business you run online, ROI is going to be the agenda for every board meeting. The stockholders demand for greater returns. And no matter how much time and effort you put into preparing your test automation suites, if the ROI generated from them is not as per expectations then their importance would be weighed a lot less than you expect.

There are many metrics that one may consider while calculating ROI on test automation such as test maintenance, cost involved in buying necessary test automation tools, resources on-board, and more. Planning impractical ROI can be problematic for many organizations and may be the reason why test automation fails.

How Do You Calculate Your ROI On Test Automation With Selenium?

15. Failing To Evaluate The Ripple Effect

Many organizations are under the impression that automation testing is easy. All you need to do is just write a few lines of code to automate your web-application’s testing workflows. And that is it! You should not bother wondering about the planning and input of your test automation scripts at all. But that is not it!

You need to evaluate the ripple effect. Your web-application is going to be a mixture of numerous test automation scripts meant to test different modules and processes. If one test scripts fail to execute properly, it could trigger test automation to fail for other scripts too. That is not all, ripple effect should also be calculated while resource planning.

Say you are having a Senior resource who wrote a script way back and has now left your company. You may not have thought of the ripple effect that the resignation may have in future timelines of your automation projects. Which is why you need to document every detail about every automation test script in your system. The documentation should serve as a standard for budding automation testers as well as experienced automation testers.

16. Test Suites Are Not Static thing

Another reason why test automation fails for your organization could be the unadaptable test suites. Many automation testers create static test suites, which are not so flexible as you scale your business. They end up re-writing the entire automation testing scripts all over, every time your platform evolves. It is a bad practice, because you are wasting time, resource bandwidth, and money. Plus, it is a faulty process. Make sure that you write test suites that evolve and adapt as your platform scales.

17. Automating One Process And Hopping To Another Without Looking Back

Another way to avoid test automation failure is to improvise your test suites. Now, that may sound obvious but it is not practised in numerous organization. Reason being, once they design the test suite, and find it to be working as it should then they start working on automating new areas. I am not criticizing the effort of indulging or exploring new areas to automate. However, it wouldn’t hurt to manage a time window where you and your team look back into an existing piece of code for figuring out a way to optimize it even further. Always experiment with your test suites to make things better.

18. Failure To Collaborate

With worldwide adoption of modern SDLCs(Software Development Life Cycles) methodologies such as Agile, Kanban, etc. Collaboration has become a key component in faster deployment of web application into the market.

It’s a multi-dimensional software development process, where all the teams are working simultaneously to develop a web application. You have a team of developers designing front-end, another responsible for backend, a team responsible for middleware activities. As a tester, you need to understand which team is responsible for which module. You have to stay up-to-date with product enhancements committed by different teams and make relevant changes to your automation script, to ensure your test automation doesn’t fail.

19. Manually Setting Up The Test Environment Before Executing Every Test Automation Suite

The primary purpose of automation testing is to minimize the stress involved in repetitive manual testing, in order to save time. On an abstract level, it sounds good but for those who perform test automation, realize the struggle in configuring the right infrastructure for performing in-house test automation. I have often observed testers refreshing the entire test automation suite before executing a new script to avoid any ambiguity with scripts. But that fails the entire point of automation testing, doesn’t it?

For instance, if you are performing automated cross browser testing with an in-house Selenium Grid to test your website of macOS and windows operating systems for Google Chrome and Safari browsers. Now, you may have to face the hassle of setting up a new OS every time before you run your Selenium scripts. In such cases it is better to opt for a cloud-based cross browser compatibility testing tool such as LambdaTest, which offers you instant access to more than 3000 combinations of browsers + OS.

20. Running Multiple Test Suites On A Static Test Environment Repeatedly Without Cleaning

This is a very common reason why test automation fails for your organization. Especially, when deadlines are near. Your test department continues to run numerous test suites over the same test environment, without clearing the cache of the previously executed test automation scripts. That may lead to faulty test evaluation, your test reports may get compromised as you encounter more false negatives and false positives.

For instance, say you need to test your web-applications for different geographies. While performing geo location from a static test environment. There is a possibility that your script may encounter a test from Google asking you to prove that you are not a bot. This would lead to failure of test automation script.

Which is why LambdaTest offers you a fresh virtual machine with cleared cached so you get accurate results for your automated cross browser testing scripts.

21. The Test Environment Itself Is Buggy

To make automation work across different test environments, there is a great deal of planning involved. You need to test on staging environments to ensure the code works flawlessly when moved into the production pipeline. However, it happens many times that your test automation script for code change, when tested in Stage environment, works seamlessly but when moved to Production, it falls apart. There could be many reasons behind such issues such as lack of constant monitoring, Staging environment failing to twin the Production environment, absence of live traffic and more.

Read More: 13 Reasons Why Staging Environment Is Failing For Your Organization

22. There Are Errors In The Test Code Itself

Last but not least. If all the points we have covered so far and your test automation is still failing then the only place left for you to reflect back is going to be your own test automation scripts. Make sure you are not committing any compile time, and runtime errors for any test script involved in your entire project.

Summing It Up

If you need a productivity booster for your organization, automation testing is the way to go. It is one of the most efficient processes required to increase the quality of the end product. Test automation also increases the robustness of the software. But be cautious of hasty implementation and procrastination. You can’t rush it without knowing the roadblocks as no company can afford to lose massive funds. On the other hand, too much fear can prevent you from reaping the striking benefits automation testing has to offer.

Remember, the reasons I’ve mentioned above are not the only ones that can lead to test automation failures. You are likely to encounter new obstacles as you make progress. But to avoid catastrophic failure, stay aware of the complications and keep an eye on the solutions. Happy testing! 🙂

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Ramit Dhamija

Working as an Automation Expert at LambdaTest and has recently started the professional journey. Excels in Java test automation.

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