If you’re trying to decide whether automation is a fad or a necessity, or if it represents a cost or an investment, let me tell you that it is something in the middle. The answer will depend on having the right or the wrong approach.
To get a better understanding, let’s look at the following example:
It is never too late to start exercising. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll see results. People usually don’t worry about doing exercise until they observe and recognize that the current way of living is making us sedentary and endangering our health. Then they realize that exercising is not only good, but also necessary. If this is the case for you, you shouldn’t start with the hardest exercises right away, like running a marathon. First you need to evaluate your condition and make a series of progressive exercises that will help you get from walking one or two miles to finally running that marathon.
Like the example above, test automation starts becoming a need due to the increasing number of systems in which our human activities depend on making our businesses possible, managing processes, taking decisions in real time, etc. In addition to the broader amount of systems becoming part of our daily activities, the integration among them is happening, and the data feeding and transformation of it are complicating, even more, the entire equation. It’s common to see one piece of data becoming part of 2, 3 or more systems. Imagine the cost of dragging the wrong data through your business nerve system. Due to the fact that the systems are live actors, they will change due to the nature of the human activities like new regulations, new products, new processes, new researches, etc. All these changes force the company to invest more time making sure all their systems are capable and reliable.
There are specialized engineering activities to assure the integrity of the systems that is the software testing engineering. In the past, manual testing engineering was good enough to be your safe point, but the new reality forces organizations to execute more sophisticated efforts to assure the quality of their core systems. This is where Test Automation appears on the scene as the main actor, and we declare without hesitation: Test Automation is not a fad, it is a necessity.
How can my organization start a test automation effort on the right foot?
As in the running example, there is a set of activities that we recommend following to create a progressive plan with controllable outcomes, including a step-by-step guide on how to make this investment more affordable for your company and produce tangible results. This plan includes the following:
- You don’t need to automate the world or run a marathon the first day
- Start by identifying your core business systems. By creating a list and organizing your tasks by importance, you will be able to decide where to start.
- Not all flows in a system are equally important. Select the end-to-end processes that are more valuable for your business. While there might be peripheral processes, you should make sure that the processes that move 80% of your transactions are covered.
- Consider including any systems that are constantly consuming test engineers due to their constant deployments, and the required continuous test regressions. Automating these activities will allow you to save both time and resources.
- While you can automate all your systems, it’s better to start on those systems that will exist along with the company — systems that are intended to last the next five to ten years.
- Always consult with an expert in the matter. Shortcuts don’t exist. The automation solution needs to fit your organization, not the other way.
- Create your own test automation capabilities by either training your people or integrating a robust test automation framework.
- Start with the first step. It’s always better to make decisions when you are more informed. Evaluate your current state and determine if you are where you planned, and if your current activities will support the future state that you envision.
If you still have doubts about whether the quality is a cost or an investment, take a moment to think about some companies whose brands are symbols of quality, and how you as a customer consume them because of that exact reason.