7 Tips to screw any Test Automation Initiative

Companies often spend a lot on performing test automation to reduce the efforts spent by testing team. We read a lot about how to make the automation projects successful, but, have you ever thought on how you can achieve it otherwise. If you are one who want to make any of the automation initiatives unsuccessful, do proceed reading further.

Don’t involve team during planning

Planning is not important. Just tell people what areas they will work and they will deliver. This will ensure that people are spending time in delivering what they are asked to do without putting their brains behind.

Select tool based on team knowledge

Irrespective of the technology used by the application, use the tool that the team members assigned to the project knows. Don’t waste time on hiring or updating the skill sets of people.

Estimate based on your scripting speed

Don’t consider test case complexity/team skill sets/learning curve/hiring time etc while estimating the efforts. Just estimate based on how much you alone will be able to achieve.

Automate areas having high probability of changes, first

Consider that the critical areas from the point of testing are the ones that are getting changed in every build. Start automating them first. This will ensure that the team spends the time on maintenance rather than new development.

Freeze the build for the complete duration of project

Before starting the project, be strict on not changing any product build, irrespective of releases made to the testing team in between. Just make your scripts compatible with the initial version of the build provided to you. This will ensure that your scripts do not run on the latest build and hence will help in failing the UAT.

Avoid any communication with stakeholders

Stakeholders always ask for reports that often decreases the productivity. They also do not have any rights to get information on the challenges that the team is facing. If you want to fail miserably, it is seriously advised not to tell stakeholders anything about the project before the final delivery.

Keep Script integration at low priority

Do not estimate for script integration and do not even care for it. If time permits, then do it immediately before UAT so as to ensure there is enough evidence of script not working.

In case you have any other tip, request you to share it in comments and I will add it up in the upcoming post.

Automation – Shall I invest in building dedicated team?

There are many instances where it has been seen that organizations complain of not getting enough ROI from their automation initiatives. When they get to identify this, the blame game starts and people start pin pointing the test automation team for not creating the right strategy beforehand.

One of the major issue that I have seen is that many a times people are reluctant to admit that there needs to be a dedicated effort and plan in place for automation. They feel that if they outsource the work of framework development to any third party contractor / vendor and then ask the vendor to train the current manual/business team, the job will be easy. In case of optimization of efforts, they might be correct, but they fail to understand that this will put a lot of burden on the automation solution and it might not be best designed based on product needs.

Another issue that I have seen is that the current testing team (with manual mindset) is asked to upgrade the knowledge and start the automation work in their free times. This again puts a lot of risk on the whole initiative and at last it does not work for the long term.

We all definitely need to understand that the automation is not a part time activity that can be done by part time people. It is a niche skillset that is equivalent to development. As any product success depends on a good architecture and team, automation solution is also dependent on a good framework architecture and good team.

On a high level, the automation plan / initiative should consider the following from team perspective

  1. What do we want to achieve from automation?
  2. How will we achieve it? Do we need to hire from outside or do we have experts inhouse?
  3. If we hire the complete team from outside, what will people do once automation implementation is completed?
  4. Can we hire experts using subcontracting? What is the rampup and rampdown plan?
  5. How to handle the maintenance phase?

Reusable Test Automation Framework – Do Not Trust!

In any software company, wherever you go, you find typical species of people who want to just break the software, do not want to bow down under business pressure to release low quality software and are often termed as fussy. This species is specifically termed as ‘Testers’.

Nowadays, there is a special requirement that is being given to this species. It is to automate as much as possible. This poor specie is under pressure to learn automation and implement it and behave like a developer. So what is happening? Is the automation that is being proposed or done under such pressures really worthwhile? Are the companies really getting benefits out of it?

I am seeing it a fact that reusing a framework has become a fashion nowadays. Everyone is talking about so called ‘Hybrid’ framework. Even if the application is complex and steps are repetitive, testers end up developing a keyword driven framework (which they call hybrid as well) for it. I have been confronting with these people about why they are doing so when that framework might not yield a good return in the longer run for that particular application. The answer that I get is.. I developed it in the past in one of my projects and hence it is a proven way to automate!

It seems to implement an already known framework has become a fashion in the industry. The reason is simple. No one wants to take risk and try something new or may be no one wants to understand the exact need of the application under test.

REQUEST -> Please do not treat test automation as an activity that can be based on a poor framework. The framework should be designed to fulfill the application needs and not your personal needs.

Using automation to overcome Agile testing challenges

Using automation to overcome Agile testing challenges

Organizations globally are adopting the Agile development methodology for enhanced collaboration and faster delivery. Agile is a set of software development principles that lays emphasis on individuals over processes and tools, working software over documentation, collaboration over contracts and responding to change over following the plan. Through Agile, organizations can collaborate with their customers by delivering live and working software to them. Despite its benefits, embracing Agile in the Testing practice is not an easy task and fraught with challenges.

Challenges in adopting Agile in Testing

While selecting appropriate tools that are usable as well as flexible is an issue, encouraging the entire team to contribute towards the tests is another problem. Enabling open-source integration and promoting test-driven development are some of the other concern areas in Agile testing.

Agile also brings with itself a few technical problems like difficulties on account of distributed teams and obstacles faced by individual testers within the Agile team. In the case of Agile development methodology, it often becomes tough to keep track of the number and speed of changes in user stories, requirements or the code.

Another issue with Agile is frequently changing requirements. Due to this, the code is refactored quite often.  Agile testing can be further bogged down by the fact that the testing team has to continuously collaborate with other cross-functional and geographically scattered teams.

How Test Automation can help

Test Automation can help organizations resolve the challenges associated with Agile testing.  Test Automation ensures that the application is and continues to be in a good shape with each new sprint. It encourages the Agile development team to collaborate with the testing team, seeing it as a  partner, rather than as Quality Police. Running the tests over and over again gives the development team an assurance that the new code, which was added to the system, does not break or destabilize anything.  It also certifies that the system is working and the new code is doing what it is supposed to do. As Agile teams need to test continuously, Test Automation provides the required speed, and helps ascertain that the feature implemented during a given iteration or sprint is actually deployed.

Think, before starting

Overall, Test Automation is useful in addressing and fulfilling critical testing demands and essential for Agile projects due to their need for frequent regression testing. At the same time, while Test Automation may be needed, just deploying an automation tool is not the solution for an organization.  What companies also need is a proven automation testing strategy and a skilled test team. This involves designing an effective automation solution that supports quicker maintenance, faster ramp-up time and distributed ownership.

Do look at Jim’s comments to complete reading

Webinar – Using Automation to Address Agile Testing Challenges

Agile is being adopted by most of the organisations to achieve quicker deliveries. But, looking at the usage and implementation, they are still struggling to milk the actual benefits that they can reap while being Agile.

Testing is one such area that is making testing teams lose their sleep.

One of my friend and colleague, Garima Mishra, has prepared a 40 mins webinar that aims to showcase how testing teams can  get benefited by Automation and how it can help address the challenges that are usually encountered while testing time-boxed agile projects.

The webinar is scheduled on Nov 30, 2011 at 10 am PT / 1 pm ET

Register to learn more.

Webinar: Leveraging Cloud Capabilities for Your Product Testing Needs

I am excited about my upcoming webinar scheduled for June 22, 2011, being hosted by Impetus Technologies. In this webinar I will be discussing about cloud computing capabilities and how a testing team can actually utilize the strengths and benefits that it offers.

If you want to learn and understand about cloud and its usefulness in testing, do register yourself at http://www.impetus.com/webinar?eventid=43

This session will be full of practical information that can be utilized by the testing teams while deciding to harness the capabilities of Cloud.

See you all at 10 AM PST / 1 PM EST / 10:30 PM IST tomorrow.