What is Test Automation in Salesforce and Why Does it Matter

Published by Laura Ashley, June 19, 2016
Product, Salesforce, Thought Leadership, Tips

What is Test Automation in Salesforce? What’s the best thing about Salesforce? Many of us would say it’s the ability to deliver change quickly

Any Organization on Salesforce gets enormous benefits from the way that it supports fast delivery cycles and continuous improvement.

With three new releases every year and a set of tools that makes it easy to develop your features or deploy Salesforce’s new ones, fast, valuable delivery is what it’s all about.

But testing is one part of the delivery cycle resistant to speed. Or rather, manual testing. Agile might have sped up your team’s delivery cycle, but you can’t speed up your human testers to match.

“For Continuous Delivery and Agile to succeed, we need to bring manual testing from 60-80% of the testing effort down to 5-20%.”

Diego Lo Guidice‘s Continuous Delivery Conference keynote

The adoption of test automation in Salesforce is rising, especially at the enterprise level. But why? To understand this shift, we need to understand what problems manual testing presents and how test automation can address them.

Test Automation in Salesforce

1. Manual testing takes time. It is a big one for agile, where time is of the essence. If you rely on manual testing alone, this can seriously slow your delivery cycle.

2. Manual testing is expensive. If you’re setting two testers on regression testing for a week, that’s 40 hours of human effort. Automation can cut this out completely.

manual testing is expensive in Salesforce

“The Monotonous Tester,” Cartoon Tester

3. Manual testing is not fun. Regression testing is repetitive and formulaic by definition. Can you imagine running the same 150 tests for every new deployment? Hint: it’s boring.

It’s also a waste of talent: testers enjoy exploratory, creative testing, and this is where they bring the most value. With automation, you can free up your testers to do more exploratory work, which is more fun and valuable to your team.

manual testing is not fun

4. Manual testing is open to mistakes. Testers are humans, not robots. Only robots excel at repetitive activities. When we’re bored, we become less consistent and more likely to make mistakes or cut corners. Automated testing is performance-consistent, so it’s a safer bet for repetitive tests.

So this boils down to four things: test automation can reduce time, cost, boredom, and inconsistency in your testing. These are the four main reasons enterprise Salesforce customers are moving towards test automation.

It’s simple: all test automation does is reduce manual testing effort by taking care of those tests that need to be run regularly.

Once you set up your automation, those repetitive tests will run themselves. You need to press play when you want them – or set them up to run nightly and check the results in your inbox in the morning. Bingo! It frees your non-robot testers to conduct creative, exploratory testing that brings more value.

So we’ve seen how valuable test automation can be. But why is this trend only just emerging? If automated testing was so easy to achieve, why isn’t everyone doing it?

manual testing is prone to mistakes compared to automation testing

In the past, the options for Salesforce test automation weren’t so good. Traditional test automation requires a developer to write tests in code using a framework like Selenium.

The developer would start by ‘teaching’ that framework all the relevant Salesforce concepts, like page layouts and validation rules. Then they would write, design, and execute their tests through code.

Any slight change to the system under test, even a field moving on a page layout, would need a corresponding code update. Otherwise, tests could break. The more you made to Salesforce, the more updates you’d need to make in the code.

Test Automation in Salesforce is vital

“Automation,” xkcd 1319

Coding your automation has all the drawbacks you can imagine. It’s also totally against the Salesforce philosophy.

Why choose a platform that has so many declarative options and supports a rapid delivery cycle and then invest in a large codebase that needs a lot of maintenance to support the testing of that platform?

So test automation hasn’t been widely adopted until now, and that’s down to the sheer lack of good tools. Until recently, there weren’t robust tools that could provide test automation, code-free, to the point-and-click Salesforce audience. Admin-friendly tools didn’t exist. Fortunately, this is starting to change as the market catches up to demand.

But this isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation. It would help if you chose the best tool for your organization.

To make this choice well, let me offer some advice.

Below you’ll find my test automation checklist. This list is designed to help you find a robust Salesforce test automation tool that can help you achieve the four main benefits of automation as I see them: reduction of time and cost, saving your testers’ boredom, and increasing the consistency of your testing.

The Automation Tool Checklist

If you’re looking into test automation, seek a tool with the following features:

code-free in Test Automation in Salesforce

1. It’s code-free. As I said above, investing in a lot of code to automate your testing does not make sense for a platform like Salesforce that provides so much declarative power. Your tool should have a point-and-click interface and be admin-friendly.

Test Automation in Salesforce is flexible

2. It’s flexible. Your tool should be able to test across different environments and browsers without requiring changes to the test case. Low-quality tools commonly hardcode things that change in different environments, like Field IDs, making your tests brittle and maintenance-heavy. Avoid this.

Test Automation in Salesforce is smart

3. It’s brilliant. Your tool should be able to handle minor cosmetic changes without tests breaking (e.g., moving fields on a page layout or Visualforce page). Human testers wouldn’t get confused by this, and your automation shouldn’t either.

Test Automation in Salesforce

4. It knows Salesforce. Your tool should be able to test advanced elements like Visualforce pages and the Service Cloud console. Even if you don’t use these elements, product maturity is a good test. Many tools struggle with embedded tables and tabs.

Test Automation in Salesforce supports integration

5. It supports integration. Your tool should be able to connect to other systems, such as databases or your email system. It will help you to do accurate end-to-end testing of your processes instead of looking at Salesforce in isolation.

Test Automation in Salesforce is dynamic

6. It generates reports automatically. Your tool should be able to generate reports on the successes and failures of your tests. It should also have options for running tests automatically, e.g., on a nightly basis, so that you can receive a report in your emails in the morning and scan it through. (This is usually done through a continuous integration system, e.g., Bamboo.)

Test Automation in Salesforce is lightning ready

7. It’s Lightning ready. Even if you’re not using Lightning yet, your tool should allow you to run tests in both interfaces. It will let you make the switch later on without dependencies.

I was a Salesforce consultant for five years. During that time, I only found one test automation tool that ticked all the boxes: Provar.

With these capabilities, Provar has seen rapid adoption among enterprise-level Salesforce customers and ISV partners, for whom regression testing is a time-consuming, costly but essential delivery stage.

But you don’t have to take my word for this. Let me give a final piece of advice.

1. Take my checklist and make your additions.
2. Contact us for a demo or a free trial.
3. Compare! Please research, find other test automation tools, and see how they match up. Don’t forget to use your checklist.

I hope this guide will be helpful to those who are just starting with test automation. If you’d like to learn more, our FAQs are a great place to start.

It was initially posted on Salesforce Ben’s blog on June 12, 2016.

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