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How to choose the best software test automation tool for your team

Before you choose an automation tool, ask yourself these questions about the tool, the vendor, training, costs, compatibility and more.

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What are the parameters you take into account while selecting an automation tool?
I've been in the position of the tool decision-maker and purchaser before. I've had a few situations where the company I was working for was small and money was difficult to obtain, so I've had to really justify purchases. I also feel it is my responsibility to make purchases work and not just justify the tool and then, a few months later, watch the tool fall into disuse -- so I think carefully when buying. Here are a few questions to consider when choosing a software test automation tool:

  1. What are you trying to accomplish with the automation tool? Get specific, break down your goals, and make sure the tool you're considering for purchase can handle your needs.
  2. Who is the vendor? How stable is the company you're purchasing from?
  3. How old is the tool, what version number is the tool on? Is the product stable? And will it likely continue to be on the market?
  4. Does the tool have a major upgrade coming? Is this the right time to buy?
  5. What training classes or books or online forums are available for education?
  6. What does the ramp-up learning curve look like for you and your team?
  7. Does your staff have the needed technical background to make use of the tool?
  8. What is the cost of the automation tool? Add up the costs of learning, training and the tool itself to better understand the total price.
  9. Would the tool vendor be willing to provide a proof of concept of the tool? Would they use your software and demonstrate that the tool and your software work well together? (I have managed to get a proof of concept opportunity twice over the years. Once the proof went so poorly even the technical representative didn't recommend purchasing the tool for our environment.)
  10. Do you know anyone who has used the tool, and if so what can they tell you about working with it?
  11. Have you searched the Internet to see if you can find customer reactions to the tool?
  12. Is there a warranty period if you're not pleased with the purchase?
  13. Is there a free trial that you could experiment with before purchase?
  14. Do the competing products offer a free trial? Can you download and experiment with the final two tools in your selection and see which tool better suits your needs?
  15. Do you believe the value of the tool justifies the price? If you had to pay for the tool with your own money, would you?
This was first published in March 2009

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