Mobile app businesses relentlessly build upon their competitive advantage to keep up with the expanding market of digital apps across multiple verticals. Part of the goal is to invest in the development and maintenance process to increase user engagement and app retention rates. As shared in a 2018 report, mobile apps were reported having a much higher engagement rate than mobile-optimized websites or desktop-based web viewing and a 100-300% higher conversion rates, primarily because of the higher responsiveness and better native user experience that an App delivers. Ensuring that an App always delivers requires comprehensive testing before release. Apps still have more potential to grow if they implement a right testing strategy and introduce it in the development cycle at the right time.

Most app developers and testers already understand the importance of automated testing in the fast-paced industry of apps. They acknowledge its efficacy to drive user engagement by launching a defect-free app. Automation testing is a huge investment that needs thorough evaluation and wise management. Identifying the right tool, right time, and process to do it are the key drivers of successful test automation.

The Application Lifecycle

Like any product, an app goes through 3 phases before it is updated or deprecated. These are Research and Development (R&D), Product Market Fit, and Product Maturity.

  1. The product development journey starts with R&D, wherein proposed app is evaluated against its market potential, share, and product relevance. App functions and interface are still in the exploratory stage and are a work in progress. Users are still starting to discover your app, so the acceptance rate is still low at this phase.
  2. As the app gets tested and improved, it gradually transitions to the Product-Market Fit. It is a process of scaling and adjusting the app according to the target users’ expectations and preferences for a more seamless journey. Here’s when the highest rate of increase in user acquisition can be achieved.
  3. The final cycle is Product Maturity. In this phase, the app is already well-established and widely accepted by the market. Rate of user acquisition starts plateauing and, in some instances, it decreases gradually.

Best Phase to invest in Automation Testing

At what point of the application lifecycle should you consider investing in automation testing? Investing at the right time in the product lifecycle is key to reaping in the best benefits of Automation Testing. In the following points we cover what returns can one expect if Automation Testing is implemented in different stages of Product lifecycle:

  • Premature time for test automation: Starting automated tests during the R&D phase is too early as the product still develops. Functions and interfaces are bound to change, so is the back-end operation. This situation implies that there will be additional expenses for configurations of automated tests, aligning the test scripts and cases to the changes.
  • Ideal time for test automation: The Product-Market Fit stage is the best time to invest in test automation since the app’s user engagement is peaking. Updates, optimizations, and changes can still happen, but only at the minimum level since the app has already gained sufficient users. This means that automation testing can be conducted without changing test cases and scripts frequently. Thus, not only the testing accuracy is maximized but also the user experience delivered can be made better and that increases the rate of new user acquisition.
  • Behind time for test automation: Testing during the product maturity stage is already late. The user traffic starts to slow down. The app could be left riddled with multiple vulnerabilities and breakpoints that would be causing users to churn. With users churning out, it would be too late to implement automation testing.

Figure 1: Extracting ROI of Automation Testing

Figure 1 shows an illustration of the active users’ growth over time. As visualized, active user growth can stall if automation testing is started earlier in the R&D phase because features will change rapidly and testing them will be tedious. Likewise, if automation testing is implemented in the Maturity phase, it is already late to resolve bugs and retain users. Product Market fit is the best time to introduce Automation testing and see Active users grow sharply.

Monetary Benefits in the long run

Some businesses hold on to their plans to automate App testing, citing high starting costs as the reason. While it’s true that the up-front investment seems high for automation, the saving realized in the long run is undeniably more significant than starting investment.

Figure 2: Monetary ROI of Automation Testing over time


If you’re planning to switch to automation, here are four points that you can assess to evaluate the actual costs more effectively:

  • Testing team cost: Testing manually requires a larger team than testing using automation. Over the course of time, the costs of maintaining a large team add up and make QA a costly affair. Switching to automation early on can help decrease operational costs in the long run.
  • Testing Infrastructure: What devices do you want to test on? Are they present at your premises? Or do you need to subscribe to a 3rd party device cloud? Knowing the device type and make & model is necessary for assessing the actual cost of automation.
  • Software costs: Determining the proper framework and commercial tools for your testing needs is essential to evaluate tool costs. While open-source options exist, commercial tools provide the advantage of premium features and dedicated support.
  • Maintenance costs: Maintaining large teams for manually testing apps is more expensive than maintaining an automation tool in the long run. The same applies to open-source v/s commercial tools where the former needs setting up support teams while the latter generally comes with support included within license costs.

While Automation Testing looks expensive to start with, the savings generated in the long run outstrip the initial costs in the long run by a margin. As shown in figure 2, after a pivotal point, Manual Testing costs spiral upwards because of costs such as increased team costs and device costs while Automation Testing costs start flattening. Automation Testing has technological benefits that make it far superior to manual testing, making it a must to implement sooner or later.

With app release cycles shortening, Automation Testing is a strategic investment that is the need of the day. But because it requires a certain capital at start, introducing and scaling up Automation Testing at the right time of App’s lifecycle is critical to reap in the best benefits. We at MOZARK provide the best-in-class Automation Testing platform on top of the widest device array. Book a demo with our experts and implement the best automation testing strategy for your app.

Written By

Chandrasekar Ramamoorthy & Anmol Chaturvedi