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Most Frequent Reasons of Test Failures

Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligentlyHenry Ford.

The quote is about life, but when we automate tests, we aim to avoid failures and create tests right the first time. Automation test cases can fail due to various reasons. Here we have listed some of the most frequent causes so that you may avoid these mistakes while writing your automation scripts.

Recurrent Changes in Application

Automation test cases are designed around business requirements and associated user features. When any of the below changes, the existing test steps are no longer correct and valid:

  • Business Logic: The automation script logic flow will be affected if the business workflow changes frequently.
  • User Interface(UI): Any changes to the UI, such as adding a new element, moving the position of elements, removing an element, modifying the type of element, etc., may cause the existing script to fail.
  • Configuration Changes: Modification in the framework’s configuration, integrations, browsers, etc., may cause compatibility issues in the test script.
  • Structural Changes: Page/object renaming, database schemas, and navigation changes are structural changes and will impact the automation test scripts.

When there are recurrent changes in an application, it is difficult to write the automation test cases in the first place because a stable application is a prerequisite for test automation.

In traditional automation testing tools, the automation test scripts work based on locators, CSS, and XPath. With frequent changes in the application, the previous locators break, and subsequently, the test will fail because it can not recognize the element anymore.

testRigor addresses this problem with legacy automation testing tools easily. With testRigor, use the element identifier as you see them on the screen and not through CSS or XPath locators. Below is an example of creating test steps using text visible on the screen as locators:
click "Home & Kitchen" 
check that page contains "Home & Kitchen"
scroll down
check that page contains "Help Center"

Synchronization Issues

When the automation tool and the application under test (AUT) are not in sync with each other, these issues arise. For example, the automation script is trying to click an element that is still not visible on the UI. In such synchronization issues, the test case is bound to fail because the script cannot locate the element on the screen. Another example is if the automation script fails to wait for an operation to complete before proceeding to the next test step.

Therefore, synchronization issues could happen due to:

  • Element Load Delay: When there is an unexpected delay in element load on the UI screen.
  • Dynamic Element Visibility: When an element is dynamically hidden/visible based on user actions.
  • Asynchronous Operations: When AJAX requests or dynamic content loading are in progress, and the test script accesses their data in tests before request completion.
  • Animation: When the automation script fails to wait for the animation or video completion.
  • Page Redirects: When there is a delay in the redirected page loading, and the script tries to access the page.
  • Network Latency: When there are delays in network communication and application response.

These synchronization issues are resolved by introducing appropriate wait times in the test steps. By doing so, the test execution pauses for the specified time frame before proceeding to the next step. With testRigor, however, you don’t need to manually input wait times – the system automatically manages these for you.

Absence of Test Data Management

Without proper test data management(TDM), test data can be incorrect, outdated, or inconsistent and may cause test case failures.

Below are the reasons which can cause a lack of proper test data and subsequent test failure:

  • Incomplete/ Outdated/Limited Data: Due to insufficient data, testers can not test the application thoroughly and miss many essential test scenarios. In cases where only limited data has been collected, not all scenarios can be tested using the small subset of actual data. Test data should reflect the whole spectrum of variation in real user data.
  • Data Dependency: Few scenarios will require specific data, e.g., images. If this data dependency is not fulfilled, the test script will fail.
  • Data Access: Due to restricted database access or the unavailability of data sources, the test script cannot connect and fetch the required test data.
  • Data Maintenance: In the absence of regular data maintenance, the data will get stale, invalid, and inconsistent.

Read how to generate, use, and manage test data to achieve the best results.

Poor Environment Setup

The test environment should imitate the production environment to receive reliable test results. Failing to do so may result in test failures and incorrect testing. Below are the reasons why poor environment setup can affect the testing process.

  • Unstable Test Environment: This is the most common cause of test failures. Network issues, downtime, and infrastructure failures may lead to an unstable environment.
  • Incorrect Environment Configuration: An efficient setup can only occur with proper documentation and technical skills to deploy the correct environment configuration. In the absence of these, the results can be disappointing. Examples are server configuration, integrations, database connectivity, etc.
  • Insufficient Test Data in Environment: As mentioned earlier, the tests will likely fail without sufficient test data.
  • Non-isolated Test Environment: When the test environment is not isolated enough from the production environment, the actual user data and interactions may lead to test failure.
  • Dependency on External APIs: Sometimes, the environment setup requires integration with external APIs or systems. If there is a configuration issue in integration, the test cannot connect to the particular service and fail.

A solution to this problem is to have a test environment setup documentation in place that is strictly followed without failures.

Automation Script Design Issues

If the test automation scripts themselves are flawed, the tests will fail. The issues can be logic, syntax, loops, element locators, assertions, synchronization, error handling, etc. To bypass automation script issues, code reviews, debugging, and troubleshooting practices should be appropriately followed.

Intelligent test automation tools such as testRigor help you escape all this chaos! Use testRigor’s generative AI, provide the test case title, and have your test ready in seconds.

Before and After Hooks

Automation test scripts use test setup and teardown steps before and after the tests. Test setup steps are the preconditions to execute before tests, and teardown steps are cleanup steps to complete after tests. If these processes are poorly executed, test cases may fail due to improper configuration, data preparation, or cleanup issues.

Dependent Test Cases

One of the critical automation best practice is to have independent test cases. The reason is that if the first test case fails and the second test depends on the first one, the execution of the second goes into jeopardy.

Common issues while having dependent test cases in the automation suite are:

  • Data Dependency: Let us say test A executes before test B, and B is dependent on data input from test A. For some reason, test A fails and cannot produce and provide data to test B. Such dependency is a roadblock to completing the test automation suite.
  • Test Execution Order: When test cases are scheduled to execute in order and are dependent. Then, if one fails, it causes the dependent test case to fail or produce wrong results.
  • Synchronization: Any delay will lead to dependent test failure if synchronization methodologies such as wait are not implemented in such test cases.
  • Test Setup and Teardown Steps: As discussed in the previous section, improper setup and teardown steps may negatively impact the dependent test case execution.
  • Shared Resources: Dependent test cases with shared common resources may conflict over resources such as networks, databases, etc. When one test case leaves a test resource in one unexpected state, the dependent test case uses the same state and provides inconsistent test results.

Hence, all the test cases should be independent of each other with their own data creation, before and after steps. Testers should carefully manage the test case order, environment requirements, shared resources, and other conflicts.

External Dependencies

Automation test scripts sometimes have external dependencies like databases, APIs, or third-party integrations. Unmanaged dependencies cause the test script to fail when it tries to access them.

To delegate these dependencies, use efficient test automation tools such as testRigor. The AI-powered tool manages all integrations and dependencies so you can focus on your application features.

Insufficient Error Handling

Error handling is an essential skill while using legacy automation testing tools. It requires an excellent grasp of development skills and programming language. If you have failed to implement the error handling appropriately, unexpected errors will cause the test execution to halt abruptly. The worst part is you will never know why the test has ended this way.

If you are done with the error-handling issues and looking for an alternative, read how testRigor can resolve error-handling like a soothing breeze.

Inadequate Test Case Maintenance

Test automation is a continuous process that does not end when test scripts are developed and ready to run. Test cases require periodic maintenance to update the scripts to accommodate application changes, UI updates, validations, etc. Another critical example is the regression test suite, which periodically requires updates, addition of new test cases, deletion of obsolete test cases, etc.

Failure to do diligent test maintenance will result in an inefficient and irrelevant test suite, where the application may have some features that need to be scripted/updated. Such test runs will result in failed tests because the scripts are lagging. Therefore, periodic test case reviews, communication with developers, and maintenance are crucial to keep the test scripts current.


The time, cost, and effort associated with automation scripting are considerable. You must diligently use all resources in an Agile/DevOps environment with closely-knit sprint cycles. If the tests fail during automation test runs and the testers constantly correct them, the whole point of automation is lost. Once the test automation is ready, you will only want to focus on adding new test cases.

testRigor’s features, such as self-healing and self-maintaining the tests help you immensely save time. The tests will take care of themselves. How liberating it is!

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