What are the risks or disadvantages of using the testing tools?

Although there are many benefits that can be achieved by using tools to support testing activities, but there are also many risks that are associated with it when tool support for testing is introduced and used.

Risks include:

  • Unrealistic expectations from the tool: Unrealistic expectations may be one of the greatest risks to success with tools. The tools are just software and we all know that there are many problems associated with any kind of software. It is very important to have clear and realistic objectives for what the tool can do.
  • People often make mistakes by underestimating the time, cost and effort for the initial introduction of a tool: Introducing something new into an organization is hardly straightforward. Once you purchase a tool, you want to have a number of people being able to use the tool in a way that will be beneficial. There will be some technical issues to overcome, but there will also be resistance from other people – both need to be handled in such a way that the tool will be of great success.
  • People frequently miscalculate the time and effort needed to achieve significant and continuing benefits from the tool: Mostly in the initial phase when the tool is new to the people, they miscalculate the time and effort needed to achieve significant and continuing benefits from the tool. Just think back to the last time you tried something new for the very first time (learning to drive, riding a bike, skiing). Your first attempts were unlikely to be very good but with more experience and practice you became much better. Using a testing tool for the first time will not be your best use of the tool either. It takes time to develop ways of using the tool in order to achieve what is expected.
  • Mostly people underestimate the effort required to maintain the test assets generated by the tool: Generally people underestimate the effort required to maintain the test assets generated by the tool. Because of the insufficient planning for maintenance of the assets that the tool produces there are chances that the tool might end up as ‘shelf-ware’, along with the previously listed risks.
  • People depend on the tool a lot (over-reliance on the tool): Since there are many benefits that can be gained by using tools to support testing like reduction of repetitive work, greater consistency and repeatability, etc. people started to depend on the tool a lot. But the tools are just a software they can do only what they have been designed to do (at least a good quality tool can), but they cannot do everything. A tool can definitely help, but it cannot replace the intelligence needed to know how best to use it, and how to evaluate current and future uses of the tool. For example, a test execution tool does not replace the need for good test design and should not be used for every test – some tests are still better executed manually. A test that takes a very long time to automate and will not be run very often is better done manually.