Decoding the Test Automation Pyramid: A Comprehensive Guide

Decoding the Test Automation Pyramid: A Comprehensive Guide

Test automation has become a real savior for software developers in recent years, as 85% of development managers complain about the challenge of keeping up with the pace of competitors’ software deliveries and maintaining high product quality. In addition, 90% of managers believe that test automation is the most important factor in their success on the market. However, the transition to automation can also turn out to be a failure if it is not planned properly. One of the most effective strategies for digital migration is the Test Automation Pyramid. Read this article to learn more about its concept, benefits, and steps.

What Is the Test Automation Pyramid?

Introduced by Mike Cohn, the Test Automation Pyramid can be considered a framework that enables the effective distribution of different test types and testing practices based on their purpose and scope. The core idea of this strategy is to allocate resources to a larger number of lower-level tests, such as unit tests, and a smaller number of higher-level tests, especially end-to-end tests.

The specific distribution of tests is intended to help organizations achieve comprehensive test coverage with minimal effort.

The Test Automation Pyramid is based on three layers.

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The Base of the Pyramid

Unit tests are the foundation of the Test Automation Pyramid. This type of testing works with small code elements such as methods, functions, and classes that are separated from their dependencies. Unit tests feature high precision as they check the behavior of each small unit and play a crucial role in regression testing.

The Middle Layer

According to the Test Automation Pyramid strategy, integration tests are highly important, but the amount of integration testing should be smaller than the amount of unit testing. For that reason, unit testing is placed in the middle layer of the pyramid.

Integration tests evaluate the interactions between different components of an application that form modules. Their goal is to verify that the modules work together seamlessly.

The Top of the Pyramid

The Test Automation Pyramid suggests allocating the smallest amount of resources to end-to-end tests that cover the entire application workflow and focus on responsiveness during interaction with users. This type of testing evaluates system integrations, user interfaces, and software functionality in general.

Why Should Your Company Adopt The Test Automation Pyramid?

There are several reasons why your organization can benefit from the Test Automation Pyramid.

  1. The test automation pyramid is recommended for comprehensive test coverage because it aims to include different areas of the software, testing both individual pieces of code and the entire product.
  2. Allocating extensive resources to unit testing helps organizations catch bugs earlier and take the necessary steps to fix them before they proliferate further and cause costly disruptions in software performance. Earlier bug detection also speeds up the feedback loop and optimizes developers’ work.
  3. The Test Automation Pyramid is a great solution for organizations looking for ways to accelerate the overall testing process, as lower-level testing takes less time than end-to-end testing.
  4. The strategy also simplifies test maintenance due to a greater number of lower-level tests.

Key Concerns about Test Automation Pyramid

Despite its undeniable benefits, the Test Automation Pyramid also comes with certain challenges that should be taken into account if you want to achieve the best results with this methodology.

For example, the initial phase of creating unit tests can require a significant amount of effort, which can lead to quite a large investment when you are setting up your testing infrastructure.

In addition, it is not clear how to maintain the balance between the different types of tests. On the one hand, an excessive focus on unit testing may result in insufficient end-to-end testing. On the other hand, organizations may try to balance the discrepancy by paying too much attention to end-to-end testing.

Furthermore, test maintenance can be compromised by UI changes that impact end-to-end tests and make them brittle.

Best Practices for Implementing the Test Automation Pyramid

To make the Test Automation Pyramid work for your company, make sure you establish a solid foundation of effective unit tests first. At the same time, remember to maintain the balance between the layers of your pyramid. Note that it is especially important to prioritize the stability of tests to prevent them from breaking down when minor changes are made to the tested application.

Pay attention to the importance of a test automation tool. A tool that is not initially cost-effective may jeopardize your testing strategy. Carefully review a potential ROI and ensure you choose a solution with a maximum level of automation and minimal requirements for human supervision. For instance, Executive Automats for Microsoft Dynamics 365 ERP and CRM system testing, has a no-code interface that further minimizes manual labor and provides users with features for automated reporting.

Conclusions – Do You Need The Test Automation Pyramid?

The Test Automation Pyramid can be of great help in many scenarios. It is a particularly good choice for software development organizations that have adopted the Agile methodology, as it involves frequent code changes and requires quick feedback.

This strategy is also particularly effective if your codebase is relatively stable.

Nevertheless, there are scenarios where it is better to refrain from the Test Automation Pyramid. Testing UI-heavy applications or software that is subject to frequent UI changes can be too complicated with the Pyramid approach. In addition, legacy codebases often do not have a solid foundation of unit tests, making the test automation Pyramid impractical.

Furthermore, if you need to test applications during the experimentation or rapid prototyping phases, using the Test Automation Pyramid can be unnecessarily costly, and time-consuming.

About the author

Marie Miguel

Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health-related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.

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