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Test automation success: Breaking down managers' misconceptions

One popular objective for test automation is to automate 100% of manual tests, according to independent test consultant and author Dorothy Graham. However, while some tests are better as automated tests, some tests are better performed manually. In her keynote at STAREAST 2012, “What Managers Think They Know about Test Automation—But Don’t,” Graham discussed the various misconceptions managers can have about automation and identified ways to set realistic goals.

Objectives are vital, as they determine a team’s direction, funding and assessment of the project as a success or failure, she explained. Unrealistically high goals will ensure failure. One measurement of success is ROI, which some managers misconstrue as the many benefits of automation: tests are run more frequently, they take less time to run and they require less human effort.

To measure the ROI, one can use a simple calculation of (benefit – cost)/cost. More information on this is available on Graham’s website. Without this quantifying of ROI, good ROI can be achieved, but it is essential that the benefits are made visible.

“Automation does not find bugs; tests find bugs,” said Graham. Automation in itself is not a cure-all for an organization’s testing needs. Furthermore, it does not replace testers. Automation, like other testing tools, supports the efforts of testers.

Graham emphasized the importance of implementing high quality testware architecture, as she cited poor architecture as the leading cause of abandoned automation efforts. The testers, test execution tools and positive relationships between developers and managers must all work in concert to produce successful results. “Good automation takes time and effort. It doesn’t just come out of the box,” said Graham.

She encouraged testers to educate their managers on the realities of test automation, as their support is critical to project success.

For more on test automation from Dorothy Graham and Mark Fewster, authors of Experiences with Test Automation, see Test automation: Exploring automation case studies in Agile development.

For comprehensive conference coverage, see our Software Testing Analysis and Review conference page.

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Great! Very nice post. This is exceptional post on software test automation. I agree with “Automation does not find bugs; tests find bugs,”. Thank you for sharing this post.
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