f you’re using test automation and recently began looking into RPA, or if you are new to test automation but using RPA as a means to achieve efficient operations, you might at some point have wondered what the difference is between the two often interchanged terms, as well as if you can use the same tool for both.

In this blog post, we’ll answer all your questions on this matter, giving you a deeper understanding of the two types of automation, and assisting you in your automation tool evaluation. 

Here’s an overview of what we’ll cover:

  • RPA vs. test automation: similarities and differences defined
  • Can RPA be used for test automation?
  • Can test automation be used for RPA?

RPA vs. test automation: similarities and differences defined

First, in order to find the right tool for test automation and/or RPA, it’s ideal to understand the two terms thoroughly, and to know the key similarities and differences between them.

What is test automation?

Test automation (or automated testing) is about assisting testers in checking that developed code functions as intended. 

The need to automate testing (as opposed to doing the testing manually) has emerged as a result of an increased need to speed up release cycles while maintaining a high level of quality. This need to deliver quality at speed means that manual testing no longer suffices for businesses wanting to keep a competitive advantage. 

Besides increasing the pace of testing, automation has additional benefits, such as lowering human error that often occurs as a result of tedious, repetitive work. This reduces risk as well as costs.

Gartner’s definition of test automation is as follows: 

“Automated testing applies to commercially or internally developed software or services to assist in the testing process, including functional and load/stress testing. Automated tests provide consistent results and data points. The benefits are ease of maintenance, the ability to efficiently use resources in off-peak hours, and the capability to create reports based on the executed tests. Associated quality management tools include functionality for test planning, test case management and defect management (the governance piece of quality).” 

What is RPA?

RPA, or Robotic Process Automation, is a technology that has emerged with the need to streamline processes across the organization. RPA is thereby not specific to development, testing or QA, but relevant to essentially any department.

Gartner’s definition of RPA is: 

Robotic process automation (RPA) is a productivity tool that allows a user to configure one or more scripts (which some vendors refer to as “bots”) to activate specific keystrokes in an automated fashion. The result is that the bots can be used to mimic or emulate selected tasks (transaction steps) within an overall business or IT process. These may include manipulating data, passing data to and from different applications, triggering responses, or executing transactions. RPA uses a combination of user interface interaction and descriptor technologies. The scripts can overlay on one or more software applications.

It’s evident from the two definitions that the two types of automation bear some resemblance; they are both about becoming more productive, they both use bots to perform tasks that are repetitive and at high risk of human error, and they can both be used where bandwidth is limited to perform rule-based tasks.

However, they also have noteworthy differences; test automation is inherently about making testing and hence QA teams more productive, whereas RPA can be used across the organization. 

Below is an is an overview of some of these key differences:

 Test AutomationRPA
OwnershipOwned by the IT departmentOwned by any department
PurposeChecking processesCompleting processes
ScopeUsually applied to a single applicationUsually applied to multiple applications
Domain knowledgeRequires domain knowledgeRequires process knowledge
Data sourceTest dataReal data
EnvironmentTesting environment Production environment
What is automatedTest casesProcesses

Original Source Info LeapWork Article

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