Automation: A Blind Race?


Automation is one of the jazziest terms used in the software Industry. If you are working in an IT company you will see that there is a race going on between product owners and managers to implement automation in their projects.

The thought process behind this drive is to find out whether automation will solve the problem statements or not. I have observed that most organizations are often confused as to what they want to achieve with automation: Quality or ROI?

Product managers are at times not sure whether they are running behind quality or reducing the cost or both.

Automation, of course, will improve the quality of the product, but implementing automation will also help you achieve:

  • Faster time-to-market
  • Minimize bug leaks
  • Timely completion of QA cycle
  • Accuracy and consistency in test environment
  • Better utilization of QA resources in the long-term

Still, all the above factors cannot guarantee any cost savings or return on investment. Automating Apps, sometimes may backfire and become a liability rather than a boon. So, before taking a decision to go for automation, there has to be a deep study that product owners need to undertake.

Here are the Factors That Can Make or Break Your Automation Idea:

Duration of Project and Frequency of QA cycles
First, you need to think about the duration of your project life cycle. Automation is viable when project duration is long. Your automation suite script creation cost should be less than that of the manual execution cost. Although, it is not easy to analyze the effective cost of each automation script suite. Your automation scripts should be utilized for at least 20 to 25 regression cycles approximately.

Testing Type Best Suitable for Automation:

  • User Stories and End-to-End Functional Flow Tests: These tests ensure that the end-to-end functional flow is not broken whenever new user stories are added to the product. When new user stories are developed, an impact analysis of new features must be performed using automated test cases.
  • Regression Tests: Related features must be tested for each release to ensure basic functionality and this type of tests is a good candidate for automation testing.
  • Soak Tests: Long-running tests are important for identifying memory leaks and other issues related to application stability.
  • Battery and CPU Usage Testing for Mobile Apps: Battery consumption and CPU usage must be monitored. This includes testing in a standby mode and also with a fixed amount of load. Executing these tests manually is time consuming. However, automating these tests does not require much effort and helps to get accurate results and increased return on investment.
  • Timer-Related Test Scenarios: Test cases related to time-out or wait scenarios take a long time to execute, when performed manually. But this type of test cases can be easily automated by writing a test script to create session timeouts, thus saving a lot of time.

Re-work or Expected UI/Functional Changes
If you are expecting major UI changes in the next version of your App, then think twice before automating the user interface, else the maintenance cost of the automation suite will be much higher.

Available Skillset for Automation
To achieve automation, you need to have required skillsets in your team. First, think of your resources. Do they have coding/scripting skills for automation testing? If not, you will either have to train them or may have to hire new engineers, in both the cases you will end up with higher acquisition costs.

Acquisitions Costs

  • Cost of acquiring the test automation tool.
  • Hardware procurement: Cost of the hardware (Laptops or Mobile devices) required for developing and executing the test suites.
  • Personnel effort: Efforts required on creating and running automation scripts.
  • Test script maintenance effort: While automating an application, one aspect that should be kept in mind is automation testing should offer more flexibility for future changes in order to modify scripts.
  • Training cost: Depending on the automation tool/language chosen, it may need some kind of training to become proficient at writing test scripts.

If you are working in Agile, it’s an absolute must for you to implement automation in the early phase of your project, but you should not expect any savings till the time your requirements do not change very frequently.

Automation testing is the best way to accomplish most of the testing goals and effective use of resources and time. For small projects, the initial cost of automation may make it an unviable approach to take. Similarly, if efforts are invested in automating test cases that are not suitable for automation, they will increase the overall cost. Also, before purchasing the automation tool make sure that the tool is a best fit to your requirements.

Do a detailed analysis of all the automation tools available to select the best one. Automation may or may not be able to give you the return on investment but will definitely help in bringing high quality to the product. So, do not run behind automation just because everybody else is automating, think wisely keeping all factors detailed out in this blog and also your project requirements/ priorities before implementing.

Think twice about your goals for automating. Are you trying to achieve Quality or ROI?

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