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Are you ready to automate?

Automation can be a difficult and time consuming process. If your business and team aren’t ready for it, it could be an expensive mistake as well.  How do you know if you’re ready to automate?  Here are a few tips and guidelines.

Do you know what you’re automating?

Automation isn’t generally an all encompassing thing.  Usually, only certain parts of the application or test plan can be automated, especially at first.

Have you evaluated your application and determined what will be automated, prioritized that list,  and given yourself an appropriate timeframe?

Have you found a tool?

You can’t automate without an automation tool, and there are countless out there to choose from.  Selecting a tool can be a time consuming process in itself, since the selection is based on budget, compatibility, skill level, and more.  At the very least, you should have a short list of possible tools with both pros and cons of each.

Do you know what successful automation is dependent on?

Will you need developers to help with setting up automation? How will infrastructure changes affect the automation process?  Will interface changes prevent you from using a certain tool?  Automation doesn’t just involve the QA team, it is generally dependent on other members of the software development team as well.  Understanding how changes in their process could affect your automation process is very important.

Is your budget realistic?

Setting up automation often carries a higher cost at the onset due to tool purchase, training, and planning.  It’s important to understand budget constraints and have a realistic expectation of initial costs and maintenance of both the automation tool and the test plans.

Is your plan scalable?

When starting out in automation, it’s best to start small and work your way up.  Setting out to automate everything right from the beginning is going to result in stress, wasting time, and sloppy test plans.  Select one set of features to initially automate and then continue to add more to that as skill levels increase.

Have you created automation standards?

It’s important to keep things as standardized as possible to help minimize the time needed for maintenance and the time necessary to get new testers up to speed. If everyone creates automation scripts their own way, it will be difficult, expensive, and time consuming to keep up with the tests and train new people.

Do you have a plan for documentation?

Whatever standards you do decide on should be documented and available for everyone on the team.  In this way, you minimize confusion and help prevent seasoned testers from fielding a barrage of questions from newer ones.

Are you prepared for the level of effort?

Automating isn’t easy. It’s time consuming, and in many ways it’s much more difficult than manual testing.  There is value to automation of course, but those who are venturing into it for the first time are often surprised at how difficult it can be.  Many expect that automation will make things easier, and that belief is most often the opposite of reality.  Having a good automation plan and an understanding of the difficulties that are going to lie ahead are key to successfully automating.


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