Startups should automate testing ... Now!

Having been running a startup in the mobile app testing space - RobusTest - especially one that is used by startups (and enterprises), I have a few thoughts on startups and mobile app test automation.
Time and money together constitute the big constraints that a startup faces. There may be other factors as well. But for most startups, these two easily capture the bulk of their constraints.
Mobile apps are not (meant to be) static pieces of software which remain unchanged over time. Instead, they are meant to respond to new insights that are discovered as you get feedback for your app and as your understanding of your users evolves.
This learning-unlearning and rapid-iteration is a major challenge when it comes to automating your tests - you spend a lot of time, money and effort to create your test framework, create your tests and then all of a sudden, business wants something more (something else!).
You could be a bootstrapped startup or one with multiple rounds of funding, a good mobile app automation strategy should feature the following
i. minimum upfront cost - takes care of the cost constraint
ii. pay as you grow/use - takes care of the cost vs time constraint
My suggestion to startups would be to adopt a tool or platform that enables them to automate their tests without any major investment - be it on the tool or on engineers (read resources). Moreover, the technologies you use should be open-source and well-supported by the community. Once your tests are created, you should be able to run them either off a device connected to your laptop, or on an in-house device cloud. You should also be able to run them using one of the device cloud services e.g. Amazon Web Services, Perfecto Mobile, Xamarin, etc., The option(s) you choose would change as your startup graduates through growth phases.
Ideally, a startup should invest in a minimum set of devices - these could be used devices to keep your costs even lower - and set up an in-house cloud of 5-10 devices. This affords the flexibility to run as many tests as needed without worrying about increasing usage costs. As you grow and you find the need to test on more devices and networks, you can choose to either set up a full fledged in-house device cloud or use a combination of in-house device cloud and a public device cloud services.
A tool like RobusTest can help startups implement such a strategy by enabling them to create automation tests on day one, running them on a captive device cloud and then running them on public device clouds when needed. RobusTest creates Appium test cases - which means you have the support of a vibrant community and you can export your tests whenever you choose to.
I have seen how many startups relegate the testing their app to a lesser priority especially in the early stages - a time when, ironically, the health/quality of their app should be their top priority. However, one can understand that a few balls getting dropped when juggling many of them.
I hope this post helps many startups bring back automation of their tests back on the priority list. I would be glad to hear your thoughts on how you went about designing the app test automation strategy for you startup or if you are facing challenges with your mobile app testing and test automation.

[this article was originally posted on LinkedIn and has since been reproduced on RobusTest blog]


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