The Need for Functional Testing and the Way to Achieve it.


The maintenance of quality on a continuous basis should drive the development of all agile-based software applications. And to achieve the same, the integration of test automation tools in the SDLC becomes necessary. In an ever-changing market where customer preferences vary from brand to brand and are mostly underpinned by the quality of the software product, business enterprises need to support continuous testing and delivery. Functional testing through automation, when performed continuously in a development environment, can ensure the performance of the application as per the specifications. So, why does functional testing need to be automated? Let us find out in the below-mentioned segments.

Table of Contents

What is functional testing and why does it need to be automated?

Functional testing helps to verify whether the software application scheduled for delivery is able to perform all functions and meets the specifications. In other words, it checks if each functional element of the software application delivers the right output. It is a type of black-box testing where the emphasis is more on testing what the software does rather than how it does. This requires viewing the software from the user’s perspective. Functional testing (automated or manual) is different from other types of testing as shown below:

  • Automated functional testing, or its manual cousin, is not necessarily about finding bugs but checking whether the software meets the desired specifications.
  • It starts with the availability of the working UI and is different from UAT testing, which is done at the end of the delivery cycle.
  • It uses data that is designed to deliver suitable and sensible results instead of triggering edge conditions.
  • It is not about checking the stability, performance, or usability of the software application unless they affect the functionality.

Given that users will be operating the application on a device or system, the software should be able to take varying user loads and perform every function seamlessly without crashing or showing latency. To ensure these, the software application needs to undergo comprehensive test coverage where manual testing can come a cropper. In other words, manual functional testing taking a lot of time and effort can become monotonous, unwieldy, inconsistent, and prone to error.

Hence, to work in an agile environment where speed is the key, functional test automation should be the norm. With automated functional testing, scripted test cases are executed. For instance, if the software application contains a registration form and multiple-choice questions, the test script can fill the answers automatically and check if the actual outcomes match the desired ones. If not, they are flagged for review, thereby saving time, effort, and cost.

How to automate functional test cases

At the outset, a dedicated test team needs to be assembled where everyone is aware of his or her role and responsibility. The other aspects are mentioned below:

Test modularity: Here, the application is divided into script components or modules wherein the QA tester creates an abstraction layer for each component by using a scripting language.

Test library architecture: In this functional automation testing framework, the components or modules are described in functions and procedures instead of scripts. This ensures greater modularity, reusability, and maintainability.

Keyword-based testing: This is a software-independent framework that describes the actions to be performed on the script based on certain keywords. Interestingly, the keywords and actions are independent of the functional testing services executing them as well as the test scripts driving the data and application.

Data-driven testing: It is a testing framework that enables the storage of data in an external file, say a spreadsheet, instead of hard-coding it into scripts. With such a functional testing strategy, all data values can be tested by a single script.

Record/playback testing: Here, there is no need to script a test case to capture data for testing, but there is a need to record the inputs of manual interactions with the software application. These inputs are used to create automated test scripts to be replayed later.

Create test data: For executing tests, it is important to know about the type of test data and the environment where the tests will be run. To generate the correct result for each functionality, it is important to create the test data for a specific test phase. This would ensure the availability of correct test data for each functional test automation process.   

Setting up the test environment: This involves the setting up of hardware, software, and network frameworks to execute test cases.


Automated functional testing can validate the end-user functionality of a software application in terms of accuracy, reliability, and stability. By integrating the same into the SDLC, business enterprises can increase the accuracy and speed of the testing processes and achieve higher ROI.  


James Daniel is a software Tech enthusiastic & works at Cigniti Technologies. I’m having a great understanding of today’s software testing quality that yields strong results and always happy to create valuable content & share thoughts.

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