Is Test Automation A Smart Move For Your Startup?

Having a creative and innovative concept for a startup company, isn’t enough for it to eventually become a full-blown company. You also must have courage, and loads of it! Think of it, at the early stages, startups are usually funded by private investors (angels!) – which means that startups will carefully plan out every single penny spent in the process and meticulously hand-pick each and every step along the way. Yet, they must keep their products at the highest possible quality to survive. Hence, startups will also have many tests to run, and it’s only natural they would consider turning towards test automation, but will it be a smart move?

Startups are always on a limited budget and test automation is rather on the expensive side, so one might wonder if test automation is a smart move for a startup: Is it a must, or is it just a complete waste of time and money? In fact, many of my colleagues who are entrepreneurs have this dilemma; will test automation bring added value to their startup at such an early stage? Does the cost of the test automation effort outweigh its returns? I will try to tackle these questions, or at least simplify it as much as possible.

A startup’s needs drastically change according to the stage the company is in (whether before or after its live operation). Ideally, in the process before the product’s release, you need to substantially reduce the testing and release time and be ready for continues deployment. However, there is one main characteristic that interferes with this ideal scenario and is common to all startups: Aggressive timelines and inconsistency in requirements; aka the product’s features usually wait until the last minute or even afterwards. Thus, there should be a really good reason to invest in complementary tools and techniques, such as test automation or continues integration.

Nonetheless, test automation is the best practice method to make your testing process agile and efficient, which is just what startups are all about. Even in a startup oriented environment, if you use test automation properly, it can make a vast impact on your product’s quality and shorten its market time! In addition, in the long run – it also saves money since it’s able to detect bugs before the product is released, which eventually also saves your company’s reputation and productivity! It seems like a win-win situation.

The entire testing process, specifically test automation, should be addressed in an agile work mode. Agile is considered to be like a magic word for startups. Below is a list of several recommended practices for your test automation success in a startup environment:

  1. Choose the right methodologies from the start. The first day is your key to success!
  2. The target should be 20-30% automation and focus on sanity tests.
  3. Spend more on process automation tasks rather than on test automation.
  4. Make your test team’s life easier by building a small set of tools to test faster and more efficiently.
  5. Use headless and API automation first.
  6. Don’t bother to focus on UI test automation (it will probably change on the next sprint).
  7. If it saves time, don’t hesitate to start with using several automation tools for different purposes.
  8. Sometimes it’s worth it to spend a few extra bucks on commercial platforms (as opposed to open source), if they provide you with what you need.
  9. Don’t give up on manual testing, a good manual testing work that is based on exploratory testing with some risk assessments should do the job (more or less). Many have done it before and many will still continue to do it this way!

The very basic rule in a startup product development is to be lean and efficient; it’s the ultimate way for a quick delivery.
So, to answer our dilemma of whether or not to implement test automation in your startup – the best answer I can think of is: YES up to a certain coverage, since it depends on the complexity and maturity level of your product at its MVP stage. If it’s rather mature, try to expand the automation coverage. But if it’s not quite mature yet, keep it as lean as possible, focusing on sanity and process automation. In either case, you should definitely implement some sort of test automation in your startup and make it part of your development process from the beginning.


Please join the discussion in the comment section below and share your thoughts and experience in the startup field!  😉