Introduction to RPA and Test Automation
Over the past few years, there has been a significant push toward incorporating automation into various industries and domains to boost productivity and efficiency. So far, this powerful tool has proven to be a game changer across the board, capable of optimizing processes in both IT and business departments. Notably, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) has emerged as a favourite among businesses looking to streamline their day-to-day operations. Through this tech, mundane tasks and workflows can be automated, freeing up more time for human workers to focus on higher-level, more complex projects.
Another automation use case that has seen increasing popularity is Test Automation – this invaluable tool is used to identify and reduce the time it takes for different types of software tests. Both RPA and Test Automation tools have revolutionized the way businesses work, offering numerous benefits that can significantly increase productivity and efficiency. To learn more about what RPA and Test Automation tools have to offer and how they can help improve your organization’s workflow, keep reading!
What are RPA Tools used for?
- Business Process Automation: By utilizing RPA tools, businesses can streamline their operations and save valuable time by automating tedious tasks like data entry and customer service requests. This allows employees to focus on more complex tasks that require a human touch. For instance, BPA can be used to simplify invoice creation by consolidating data from various source documents, reducing errors, and boosting overall efficiency. By embracing automation, companies can improve their processes, reduce costs and stay ahead of the competition.
- Automate Events: With RPA tools, businesses can automate tasks with ease. For example, an RPA tool can monitor an email inbox and send important emails to the right teams or individuals automatically. This ensures that critical tasks are handled promptly and efficiently, even after traditional business hours. By automating actions based on specific events, businesses can streamline operations, reduce mistakes, and boost productivity.
- RPA Developer: The role of an RPA developer is crucial to the successful development and maintenance of RPA solutions. They are responsible for analyzing business requirements, designing and building automation workflows, testing, and debugging code, deploying the automation to production environments, and providing ongoing maintenance and support. RPA developers require a deep understanding of the RPA platform, technical expertise, strong analytical and problem-solving skills, and effective communication skills.
- Production Focus: RPA tools are like superheroes that work tirelessly and efficiently under immense pressure. They have the strength to handle massive amounts of data and can take on repetitive tasks like a boss, freeing up valuable time for their human counterparts. Imagine the power of multiple bots working in sync, like a well-oiled machine, to process mountains of invoices in record time. Though, like all heroes, RPA tools must first be developed and tested in a safe, non-production environment before unleashing their full potential in the real world.
- Execution Time License: RPA tools typically have a license model based on the execution time of the automation, where businesses pay only for the time that the automation is running. This licensing model allows for cost optimization and efficient resource consumption. However, businesses may need to purchase separate licenses for each instance of the RPA solution when running the same process in parallel or distributing the workload. It’s essential to carefully evaluate the licensing model of the RPA tool when selecting a solution to ensure it aligns with the business’s automation needs and budget.
What are Test Automation Tools used for?
- Test Case or User Story: Test Automation tools are used to automate software testing processes. They enable businesses to automate test cases or user stories, ensuring that software applications are thoroughly tested before they are released to the market. One can use a keyword or a business component-based approach to automate tests where the primary input for automation would be test cases. If one decides to go with a Behaviour Driven Approach the inputs that you would be using would be user stories, feature files, and scenarios.
- Identifying Defects: Test Automation tools can identify defects and issues within software applications. They enable businesses to identify issues early in the development cycle, allowing them to be fixed before they become more significant and costly to resolve. The tools can be used to identify defects in APIs, UI screens, or workflows by automating different types of functional tests like System Testing, Regression, System Integration Testing, etc.
- Automation Engineer or SDET : To develop and maintain Test Automation tools, businesses require skilled Automation Engineers or Software Development Engineers in Test (SDETs). These professionals are responsible for designing and building automation frameworks, writing and executing automated test scripts, and ensuring that the tests are running as expected. If you are using codeless tools like OpKey, Tosca, etc programming expertise may not be required to design or maintain tests.
- DevOps Integration: Test Automation tools can be integrated into DevOps pipelines, enabling continuous testing and deployment of software applications. This ensures that software applications are continuously tested and improved throughout the development cycle, resulting in higher-quality software and faster time-to-market. Many of the popular tools in the market come in with more than a dozen ready-to-use plugins that provide the capabilities to engineers to run tests for every application build.
- Creation Time License: Test Automation tools usually offer a licensing model based on the creation time of automation. This means that businesses purchase licenses that include capabilities for designing, executing, and maintaining tests. These licenses may also provide additional features such as reporting, integrations, and support resources, depending on the vendor.
- Pre-Production Focus: Test Automation tools are designed to operate in pre-production or a test environment. This means that they are optimized for testing and debugging, ensuring that software applications are thoroughly tested before they are released to the market. Very rarely we have seen test automation tools being used for production validation even though it is safe to run automated tests that can validate the read-only type of workflows that does not manipulate data or records in production.
What is common between RPA and Test Automation tools?
- API Automation: Another commonality between RPA and Test Automation tools is their ability to automate tasks that involve interacting with Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). APIs are used to facilitate communication between different software systems, and automation of API interactions can lead to more efficient and accurate data transfer between systems. RPA and Test Automation tools can both automate tasks that involve API interactions, such as data extraction, data transfer, and API testing. This automation results in reduced manual effort, improved accuracy, and faster data transfer times, leading to increased productivity and efficiency.
- UI Automation: Both RPA and Test Automation tools can automate tasks involving UI interactions, such as button clicks, text inputs, and menu selections. This allows businesses to automate complex workflows that involve multiple applications, increasing efficiency and reducing manual effort. RPA tools can also automate tasks such as data entry and validation, while Test Automation tools focus on automating testing tasks. The ability to automate UI interactions is a significant advantage of both RPA and Test Automation tools.
- Programming Language Support: Programming knowledge is typically necessary when working with open source-based Test Automation tools or those that support scripted capabilities. However, most RPA tools provide codeless automation features that do not require programming knowledge. These codeless automation tools provide an intuitive and user-friendly interface for creating automation workflows without writing code. In some cases, programming knowledge may be required to extend the capabilities of RPA tools and develop custom extensions or plugins. Popular programming languages for RPA development include C#, Python, and VB.NET.
- Validation Support: Both RPA and Test Automation tools offer validation support to ensure that automated processes are functioning correctly. However, the level of validation required may differ between Test Automation and RPA scripts. Test Automation scripts may require a higher degree of validation to ensure that they accurately reflect the intended behaviour of the application being tested. On the other hand, RPA scripts may require less validation, as they are typically designed to automate repetitive tasks and are less likely to involve complex business logic.
- Reusability: Both RPA and Test Automation tools offer reusability features that enable engineers to leverage existing tests and workflows to develop new automation processes efficiently. This promotes the reuse of code and resources, reducing development effort and overall costs. By reusing existing automation workflows or tests, engineers can avoid duplicating effort and create new automation processes more quickly and efficiently. Additionally, reusability features help to maintain consistency and standardization across their automation processes, further increasing efficiency and reducing errors.
In conclusion, RPA and Test Automation tools offer significant benefits to businesses looking to automate their workflows and software testing activities. Both technologies provide solutions to complex problems and can be integrated into existing IT infrastructures. By leveraging the commonalities between the two technologies, businesses can streamline their automation processes, reduce costs, and improve operational efficiency.