RPA Vs Test Automation

November 16, 2023Harish Rajora
RPA vs Test Automation

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Robotic Process Automation and Test Automation are two confusing terms in testing processes. Similar to TDD and BDD processes, RPA and test automation seem like a single branch of the test segment which is common to be exchanged in communication during planning. The word “automation” seems to be a culprit in this case.

When both the terms end with automation and someone knows any one of them, it is not hard to presume another one based on primitive knowledge. While it is definitely true that both of these processes automate the process, “what” and “how” of their automation is entirely different.

This post is constructed to narrow the gap of understanding and to validate that RPA and Test automation are not only different in their working and mechanism, their base foundation works on different scenarios. Before we jump to discuss the details of RPA vs Test Automation, it is better to understand what they individually are.

What is Robotic Process Automation (RPA)?

According to Google, the meaning of a “robot” is: “a machine resembling a human being and able to replicate certain human movements and functions automatically.” Surprisingly, this definition fits perfectly with RPA by making slight adjustments. 

Robotic Process Automation is the process of mimicking a user’s actions on the system and performing them automatically. This is achieved through artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms by learning the patterns from the user’s actions.

RPA is achieved through software bots with varying capabilities and made available by various developers on the internet. When a user performs the actions with the RPA bot, these user actions are then converted to tasks or actions and performed without a user.

RPA needs AI algorithms because it does not blindly run the tests again and again but performs the same actions considering the various scenarios. For example, data entry requires us to enter data by performing the same actions but with different data. This can be achieved through RPA.

Robotic Process Automation Applications
Robotic Process Automation Applications in various fields.

Robotic Process Automation does not require extensive codes to understand the problem. Rather, they are run when a user is performing actions on the graphical user interface. This can be attributed to the name of RPA which has “process” instead of Robotic “Test” Automation.

A codeless process makes them an important part in performing business-related activities such as data entries, fetching queries or manipulating certain data on situations. RPA removes redundancy in the process and performs repetitive business tasks in order to achieve efficient and time-saving performance. 

Benefits of RPA

The RPA boasts the following benefits:

  • Efficient Results: RPA bots and processes are highly efficient in performing their tasks. They take less time and wrap things up quickly.
  • Accurate Performance: RPA is a machine-led process. Similar to other machine-specific tasks, RPA too has high accuracy and can work for longer hours than a human tester.
  • Perfect Resource Usage: RPA consumes resources at a steadier rate and occupies a resource only when it is needed. This method provides a way for other processes.
  • Cost-Effective Solution: RPA is a cost-effective solution since manual tester’s work hours are not counted. Moreover, the work done with RPA is faster which is an added advantage in cost-cutting.
  • Highly Secure: RPA is a highly secure process and the tasks performed are single tasks. The chances of data leakage are next to zero and information is exchanged through secure paths.
  • Helps in Future Planning: RPA performs an error-free job. This makes the overall analytics highly accurate and the analytics data can then be referred for planning for future business goals and investments.

What is Test Automation?

Test automation is the automation of repetitive “test cases” rather than business rules. Test automation is not a new term for testers working professionally for some time. While building up a big project with a lot of modules, test cases become repetitive. Regression tests are one such example.

These repetitive test cases not only waste the time and effort of testers but makes the process boring, error-prone and make them overlook specific bugs. Automating these test cases cuts the cost of the project and helps testers focus their energy somewhere else. 

Test Automation Benefits
Test Automation Benefits

In contrast with RPA, test automation understands specific commands only. For example, for a particular action, there would be a particular syntax that will have to be followed. This syntax might be achieved by writing code or by codeless methods. Codeless methods will be interpreting commands but will be easier to understand and automate.

One such codeless test automation tool is Testsigma. Testsigma uses plain English to construct test cases which is an easier and simpler method than resolving a language and writing codes in it. To simplify the process, even more, artificial intelligence always watches your actions and heals the automation tests automatically. 

To understand the perfect time to initiate automation in your process, refer to article that talks about  the 5 signs when you need to implement test automation

Try a simplified codeless test automation experience for free

Benefits of Test Automation

The test automation process boasts the following benefits:

  • Time Saver: Test automation runs the repetitive tests whenever required on the application under test. Since tests can be hundreds, using manual testing wastes a lot of time for something that can be automated. Test automation can run these tests quickly, anytime and generate reports at the end.
  • Cost Saver: Test automation can run the tests all day long with the same accuracy. Automating these tests is not charged per hour and is, therefore, a huge cost saver for the business.
  • Faster Project Delivery: Test automation can facilitate the time required to deliver a project since repetitive tasks are done by automation and testers can focus on other tasks. With the work being distributed, a project can be tested quickly.
  • Larger Test Coverage: Since the repetitive tests remain the same when required again with time, we can add more tests and run all the tests for better quality software. Hence, we increase our test coverage and there is no need to skip or delete any test case.

I hope you must have got the gist of RPA and Test automation and how both of these automation processes helps us grow businesses and improve the quality of the software. But still, even though we know both of these phenomena as individual processes, the differences and comparisons between them are a little cloudy. In the next section, let’s see how these two processes differ and on what grounds.

RPA vs Test Automation

The following table will help you compare RPA vs test automation with keywords. The gist of these keywords can be found in the above sections.

RPATest Automation
GoalBusiness Process AutomationTest Case Automation
syntaxNot Required, it is rule-basedRequired(for code and codeless features)
Used ForAutomating any kind of Business ProcessAutomation of Testing Process
FlexibilityHighly FlexibleLimitations with Tools (Ex. Selenium works only with Web applications)
Automation SpectrumVery WideOnly tests can be automated.
Working ProcessAdaptive due to AI and ML.Although AI and ML have made their foray here, still the scope is limited
ObjectivesValidate business objectives.Validate software application functionality and performance.
ApplicationsData Entry, Billing, Ticket Booking etc.Security Testing, Regression Testing etc.
Tools (examples)Blueprism, UiPath, NICESelenium, Appium, JIRA

Automation is expanding its wings to every field from manufacturing to information technology services. It has become an important part of a tester’s and businesses’ daily life. Automation cuts our costs, saves a lot of time and works with very high accuracy. It deserves the attention it gets from everyone today. Two such segments branching from automation are RPA and test automation.

RPA focuses on automating business processes such as mimicking the tasks and actions while keeping in mind various scenarios through artificial intelligence. Test automation on the other hand requires strict rules and focuses on different scenarios related to the testing of software. They might sound a bit similar, but they are different from their foundation and working.

RPA and test automation are both important in building a high-quality product and improving the business. While they come with their own set of bane and boons, the team has to decide what suits their needs the best. RPA is important for improving the business processes and making them more efficient while test automation is for building a high-quality product.

It is recommended to use them whenever they can be of help to save time. I hope this post helped declutter the confusion and doubts about RPA vs test automation. If this post served its purpose, we would love to hear it from you in the comment section below!! Keep testing and keep improving!

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