Mika Mäntylä

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Benefits and Limitations of Automated Software Testing Systematic Literature Review and Practitioner Survey

What's in this paper?

  • Systematic literature review starting from 24706 articles through which 25 research articles were found
  • Based on the literature review, a practitioner surveys of test automation benefits and limitations was created which was answered by 115 software professionals
  • For main results see the figure, the abstract, or the paper

There is a documented gap between academic and practitioner views on software testing. This paper tries to close the gap by investigating both views regarding the benefits and limits of test automation. The academic views are studied with a systematic literature review while the practitioners views are assessed with a survey, where we received responses from 115 software professionals. The results of the systematic literature review show that the source of evidence regarding benefits and limitations is quite shallow as only 25 papers provide the evidence. Furthermore, it was found that benefits often originated from stronger sources of evidence (experiments and case studies), while limitations often originated from experience reports. We believe that this is caused by publication bias of positive results. The survey showed that benefits of test automation were related to test reusability, repeatability, test coverage and effort saved in test executions. The limitations were high initial invests in automation setup, tool selection and training. Additionally, 45% of the respondents agreed that available tools in the market offer a poor fit for their needs. Finally, it was found that 80% of the practitioners disagreed with the vision that automated testing would fully replace manual testing.

Rafi, D. M., Moses, K. R. K., Petersen K., Mäntylä, M. V., "Benefits and Limitations of Automated Software Testing: Systematic Literature Review and Practitioner Survey" in Proceedings of the 7th International Workshop on Automation of Software Test (co-located with ICSE) (AST), 2012, (forthcoming)