How Many Tools Do I Need in My Automation Toolbox?


As a strategic quality assurance advisor, I meet my fair share of testing and development teams who want to improve the quality of their services with automated tests.

Not very long ago, every single one of them would ask me, “What is THE automation tool I can use to automate everything?”

Note the singular “tool.” They were primarily looking for one ultimate tool that would meet all of their technology needs, be suitable for every type of specialist on their testing AND development teams, satisfy upper management and, ideally, make the perfect cup of coffee.

These days, I more often hear this: “What combination of tools can I use that will cover all of our tests as efficiently as possible and can be incorporated in our continuous integration processes?”

Times are changing and the community is evolving through a blend of experimentation, reading and advice. It’s amazing!”

The search for the perfect tool

Even so, the fact remains that expectations for automation tools are way out of proportion. In many people’s eyes, a tool should:

  • Be easy to understand, with the shortest learning curve possible

  • Easily integrate with continuous integration processes

  • Provide a clear dashboard for both developers and managers, including a log of tests already completed, preferably also generating alerts and emails of results, while additionally allowing developers to quickly debug failed test cases

  • Allow for a toolbox composed of the fewest tools possible, all free and all compatible with one another

  • Make it possible to carry out web and mobile testing (and occasional testing of non-web applications)

  • Enable you to identify, with the least amount of effort possible, the elements of a website or do it for you

  • Be high-performance and allow for control structures (e.g. loops)

  • Allow for easy and precise validations

  • Allow you to view tests being executed in real time

  • Allow for cross browser testing

  • Have as many reusable components as possible and, of course

  • Require the least amount of maintenance possible

  • Etc.

Phew! I’m out of breath just listing these expectations.

The right toolbox of automated testing solutions

The good news is that the world of automation is full of automated testing solutions. Each one is great for what it does.

Before deciding on a toolbox to meet your needs, of course, you need to identify the testing requirements that need to be met.

To do so, I always come back to one very simple question: “Which tests will give you total confidence in your system, while also ensuring a perfectly seamless user experience?”

The answer is usually vague, as the client eagerly reassures me that their unit and integration tests have excellent coverage and ensure a system of the highest quality. Which is great. But it’s not enough to answer the second part of the question: What about the user, your client?

Of course, users want a system that’s easy to use and that performs the operations they requested, but above all they expect reliability and for their data to be handled with as much diligence and rigor as possible.

I believe end-to-end (or E2E) testing is the best means to fulfill these expectations. Not to detract from the importance of unit or integration testing and the like—as with the stock market, you build confidence by diversifying.

That’s where end-to-end testing comes in, making it possible to validate business processes of varying complexities. This process inevitably includes a variety of different systems (web and non-web interfaces, third-party applications, cloud systems, databases, email communications, SMS messages and much more).

Example of testing a checkout process

If we put ourselves in a merchant’s shoes, we can look at a very familiar example that illustrates this type of transaction or business process.

When I make an online purchase, as a consumer, I don’t see what’s going on behind the scenes. However, as a computer scientist, I know it’s far from simple.

To complete the transaction:

  1. It needs to go through an interface (that I can access from any of my devices)

  2. Increase test coverage while reducing risks

  3. The interface needs to provide me with different delivery options adapted to my profile

  4. The system needs to validate the information at every step of the way

  5. The information needs to be saved in databases, ERPs

  6. And so on.

It’s difficult to confirm with total certainty—and especially not in a timely manner—that the process has been fully tested and that all validations have been successfully completed when you need to use several different tools

Someone needs to make the call (either manually or using an aggregation tool).

The new reality of open systems

In today’s context of increasingly “open” systems that are more available to users, companies need to take a strategic approach to quality assurance, deliberately planning testing methods based on the most effective toolbox possible.

In this new reality, more than the testing tools, it’s the approach that counts. This alone will enable the company to identify the tools it needs to be confident in its application deployments.

Strategic Approach

Definition Preparation Execution Evaluation


Current technologies

Available test data

Anticipated results



QA Process Maturity

Current process

Roles and responsibilities

Target process

Action plan

Testing strategies

Mission / Scope

Risks & Hypothesis

Process & framework





Testing infrastructure

Acceptance testing

Types of test





Data management & envir.

Scaling up


Evaluation of the QA solution

Confirming the strategy

Identifying adjustments

Starting point Deployment – Revision – Adjustment … continuously

So, my response to clients looking for one “magic” tool is always the same: “Let’s see! What application, tech and human needs have to be met for you to reach your objectives and achieve the right level of confidence?”
Once you have the answer to these questions, the company can establish a reasonable plan for transitioning to automated tests.

This transition period will inevitably involve certain challenges, but if these challenges are carefully studied, anything is possible!

Plan to expand your toolbox in an organized manner by drawing up an automation strategy and relying on the support of experts.

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