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Can RPA Transform Software Testing?

Of late, the term RPA has become exceedingly popular. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is a business automation technology that aids in automating everyday repetitive tasks such as data entry, verification, etc. without human intervention. RPA was created to empower business users to build software bots (robots) that can interact and communicate with the system just like humans. RPA bots are useful for imitating numerous human actions such as moving files and folders, logging into applications, filling forms, etc. RPA is a convenient option when it comes to the execution of repetitive tasks. RPAs can easily manage data extraction, calculations, and operational activities. The results delivered by RPAs are not only accurate but can also be achieved within a short time frame. And most importantly, there is also less scope for errors. There’s no doubt that RPA holds forth great promise in making business processes faster, more efficient, and more accurate.

But that’s not what this post is about. As a software development company what matters to us (and probably you) is, can RPA be used to drive similar impact in software testing?

It’s true that there is a rising trend of organizations using RPA to automate software testing. If you too are considering doing so, then here are some facts that will shed light on this subject.

Now, if your company already has an RPA solution, and you are contemplating getting started with test automation, utilizing your RPA tool for this purpose may seem like a logical solution. After all, it may become comparably easier to automate some basic test scenarios and add validation. But even after doing this if you may believe that you are on the path to test automation, you’re probably not.

Why? Because for test automation to be sustainable and successful, it requires much more than the ability to click through application paths. For test automation to work, testing teams must be able to construct and stabilize an effective automated test suite. RPA tools are not necessarily designed to facilitate this.

Owing to this deficit, you may face challenges in test automation such as long delays while waiting for the necessary test data and test environments, contradictory results that hamper trust in the automation initiative, and test suites that use considerable resources but fail to deliver precise, and actionable feedback.

Gartner has explained the difference between RPA and test automation tools fairly comprehensively:

RPA tools perform ‘if, then, else’ statements on structured data. They typically use a combination of user interface (UI) interactions or connect to APIs to drive client servers, mainframes or HTML code. An RPA tool operates by mapping a process in the RPA tool language for the software “robot” to follow, with runtime allocated to execute the script by a control dashboard.

Test automation tools enable an organization to design, develop, maintain, manage, execute, and analyze automated functional tests. They provide breadth and depth of products and features across the software development life cycle (SDLC). This includes test design and development; test case maintenance and reuse; and test management, test data management, and automated testing and integration, with a strong focus on support for continuous testing.

Logically speaking, RPA tools are developed to automate specific tasks within a sequence, while software testing tools are devised to measure the resilience and elasticity of a much broader series of functions. At a fundamental level, RPA tools are engineered to make a process work; however, to conduct software testing effectively, a tool must be able to determine how a process can break.

Also, RPA does not usually directly affect the product under test but is applied to the processes associated with the business environment. Testing tools, on the other hand, are entirely dependent on the product for testing a scenario.

In conclusion, to our mind, RPA solutions cannot solely be relied upon for effectively testing a software product. When it comes to software testing, organizations must be specific about the requirements and how well the tools they choose are aligned with the same. Inefficient software testing can delay releases while also consuming unplanned for resources.

In today’s world of digital transformation, as companies invest heavily in improving customer experience through faster software delivery, compromising on software testing can derail your product. Selecting the right software testing tool will undoubtedly accelerate delivery, reduce business risk, and free up more resources to devote to innovation. And as things stand now, an RPA solution may not offer you all that you need for great automated testing impact.