Navigating QA Automation: Common Hurdles and How to Overcome Them

by Taha Ibrahim,  13th February 2024
Automation Connected TV

In the ever-evolving landscape of software development, ensuring the highest standards of functionality, performance, and reliability has become paramount through the practice of Quality Assurance (QA). As organisations pursue seamless user experiences and agile development cycles, the adoption of QA automation emerges as a crucial component in the software testing process. While QA automation promises efficiency, repeatability, and faster feedback loops, it is not without its challenges. Beyond the allure of automated testing lies a realm of complexities and unspoken pain points that can pose significant hurdles for development teams. These challenges often go unnoticed, overshadowed by the anticipation of streamlined testing processes and accelerated delivery timelines.

Can’t Stand the Heat

Setting up and running a test lab on-premise in our London office presented its unique set of challenges and considerations. While a local testing environment offers advantages such as increased control and accessibility, it demands meticulous planning to address potential issues. One immediate concern is the management of heat generated by the devices in the test lab. As the number of devices increases, so does the heat output, and without proper ventilation and cooling, the room can become uncomfortably warm. Implementing effective temperature control measures, such as air conditioning or proper ventilation systems alongside temperature sensors, is crucial to maintaining an optimal operating environment for your testing equipment. At times during the summer, closely monitoring the temperature in our lab becomes imperative. As time progressed, we observed that heat-related challenges were not limited to the summer season. In a surprising turn of events during the peak of winter, our office air conditioning unit malfunctioned, leading to recorded temperatures reaching as high as 25 degrees Celsius within our test lab. Consequently, it became evident that maintaining a vigilant eye on the temperature in our lab is essential year-round. This necessitates having someone available 24/7 to receive sensor notifications. In case of temperature anomalies, this personnel is responsible for remotely shutting off all devices in the lab to prevent any adverse effects on the testing equipment or risk of fire.

TVs Need Rest Too

Managing devices in the test lab poses challenges beyond just addressing the heat concerns. Some TVs are not designed for continuous operation, leading to issues such as memory problems, faded screens, and being prone to getting stuck in problematic states. These issues often necessitate physical intervention, as remote solutions may prove insufficient. A key aspect of efficient device management involves implementing smart sockets to facilitate power cycling of devices which can help to achieve some tasks remotely. This strategic use of smart sockets enables us to reset and power cycle devices quite easily, contributing to the stability and reliability of our testing environment as this can often resolve issues related to device performance, memory, or software glitches. By incorporating smart sockets into our infrastructure, we gain the ability to remotely control the power supply to individual devices. This proves invaluable when devices experience unexpected behaviour or become unresponsive during testing.

Untangling Test Automation

Alongside the need for a physical presence, establishing a sophisticated networking setup becomes imperative. This setup should accommodate VPNs, bandwidth throttling, and stable Wi-Fi connections for devices lacking Ethernet ports, ensuring the stability required for effective test automation. Furthermore, thoughtful cable management contributes to a more organised setup, making it easier to troubleshoot and identify any connectivity issues. Labelling cables appropriately and keeping a detailed documentation of the network topology can aid in quicker problem resolution and enhance overall efficiency in the testing process. The necessity to measure out and make custom Ethernet cables is another practical consideration. Having excessively long lengths of cable can not only create a cluttered and disorganised testing environment but may also lead to signal degradation and interference. By customising Ethernet cables to the required lengths, you can maintain a neat and efficient cabling infrastructure, reducing the risk of tripping hazards and signal issues within the test lab. Ethernet cables are not immune to wear and tear either, and their heads can occasionally break, disrupting the automation on connected devices. When such a failure occurs, the impacted Ethernet cables must be promptly replaced to restore the connectivity essential for effective test automation, this can be quite the tedious process, it can be difficult to figure out that the ethernet is the root cause of a test case failure.

Maintaining Harmony

As sporadic software updates occur on certain TVs within the test lab, compatibility issues may arise, disrupting the functionality of our device integrations. Manufacturers might introduce changes that impact the way we interact with the devices, leading to the need for frequent updates to ensure seamless integration with the latest firmware or software versions. This constant cycle of updates, coupled with potential modifications in the manufacturer’s integrations, creates a significant workload in maintaining test automation. Ensuring our integrations are synchronised with the evolving software landscape of the devices is critical for preserving the accuracy and reliability of automated tests. It requires a proactive approach, closely monitoring software updates and promptly adapting our integrations to align with any changes introduced by manufacturers. This ongoing effort is essential to prevent automation scripts from failing and to guarantee the continued effectiveness of the test automation framework. In numerous instances, our team has found themselves in scenarios demanding prolonged online presence beyond the anticipated schedule. This extended commitment becomes necessary when our automated tests encounter unforeseen failures, prompting team members to swiftly address and resolve issues. The team engages in real-time troubleshooting, implementing hotfixes, and orchestrating the restarting of devices and pipelines to rectify any disruptions in the test automation process. This dedicated effort underscores the team’s commitment to maintaining the integrity and functionality of our automated testing framework, ensuring that any unexpected challenges are promptly addressed to minimise downtime and preserve the reliability of our testing infrastructure.

Skipping the Cloud

On the software side of our operations, it is crucial to emphasise that the execution of the actual test automation software is carried out on-premise. Opting for an on-premise approach is driven by the recognition that running the test automation software in the cloud introduces an additional layer of complexity. In a cloud-based setup, there would be a need to establish a virtual private network (VPN) to seamlessly connect the two networks. However, we find that maintaining simplicity and efficiency is better achieved when all components operate within one consolidated network. The decision to embrace on-premise computing comes with distinct advantages, one of which is the predictability of fixed costs. Unlike cloud computing, where the usage of resources can lead to unexpected bills, on-premise solutions provide a more manageable and stable financial model. This financial predictability is particularly advantageous in project planning and budgeting, contributing to a more secure and controlled financial outlook. Furthermore, the choice of on-premise computing grants us complete control over the physical hardware of the servers. This level of control is pivotal, as it ensures that we can easily scale and expand our infrastructure when faced with increased demand or the need for additional resources. The scalability of on-premise solutions allows us to adapt swiftly to changing requirements without being constrained by the limitations often associated with cloud-based platforms. In our testing environment, we have implemented a distributed computing model, allocating separate hardware for running web drivers and executing the test automation processes. This deliberate separation serves as a strategic measure to prevent any interdependencies between services, mitigating the risk of disruptions caused by the failure of a single piece of hardware. By adopting this approach, we enhance the overall robustness and reliability of our testing infrastructure. It is important to note that while on-premise computing offers these advantages, it also entails a greater responsibility for security. Unlike cloud providers who manage certain aspects of security, we take on the responsibility of securing our infrastructure. This includes managing dependencies and packages independently, ensuring that our security protocols align with the specific needs of our organisation. While this places additional demands on our team, it also affords us a higher degree of customisation and control over the security measures implemented, aligning them closely with our unique requirements and standards.

CI/CD, Templates, and Flexibility

Delving deeper into the challenges beyond the surface in the realm of test automation, several intricate aspects demand meticulous attention, such as integration with CI/CD. Orchestrating the test automation software necessitates the establishment of standards to prevent fragmentation. Defining a set of best practices and utilising templates helps maintain consistency across projects and ensures that testing processes adhere to standardised norms. Creating a method for defining test automation pipelines from a common template while allowing modifications at the device level presents a delicate balance. Providing flexibility within the template enables teams to customise pipelines according to specific device requirements without compromising the overall coherence of the testing framework. Allowing instant modifications at the device level enhances the agility of the testing process. This capability enables teams to adapt quickly to changes in project requirements, ensuring that modifications in the execution of test automation software can be efficiently propagated across all projects utilising the shared template.


In conclusion, the path to establishing and managing QA automation is laden with nuanced challenges that demand careful consideration. While the benefits of efficiency and faster feedback loops are evident, underlying complexities require strategic solutions. From managing on-premise test labs with heat and device concerns to navigating networking intricacies, the physical demands of QA automation are apparent. Smart sockets, effective cable management, and a robust networking setup are pivotal for maintaining a stable testing environment. The role of device integrations introduces an additional layer of complexity, with constant updates needed to align with evolving software landscapes. The decision to opt for on-premise computing offers cost predictability and scalability but entails heightened security responsibilities. Integrating test automation with CI/CD processes requires standardisation through best practices and templates, striking a delicate balance between consistency and adaptability to changing project requirements. In addressing these challenges, development teams can optimise testing processes, enhance efficiency, and deliver software solutions that meet the highest standards in today’s dynamic software development landscape.

Navigating the complexities of QA automation can be a daunting task. From setting up your test lab to dealing with device management and ensuring seamless integration with CI/CD processes, the challenges are as varied as they are intricate. Our team at FX Digital specialises in providing both cutting-edge automation solutions and expert consultancy to streamline your QA processes.

Connect with us today and let our experts guide you through automation challenges to a solution tailored to your needs.