Testers Are Facing Unrealistic Expectations about Test Automation
Test automation isn’t exactly brand new, but it’s just fresh enough that people outside of the testing world don’t quite understand what it is. They fail to grasp the work that goes into making automation tick, the expertise required to guarantee any level of quality, and how long all the testing actually takes.
The decision-makers and management within software teams aren’t exactly “outside of the testing world,” but they’re often just out of the loop enough to not fully understand automation. And because of that disconnect between the people actually doing the test automation and the people running the team, unrealistic expectations begin to form.
That’s something that Paul Grizzaffi, a principal automation architect at Magenic, has experienced quite a few times during his career. The general understanding around automation is improving, but testers are still facing an uphill battle.
“I get questions like, ‘How long is it going to take you to automate 500 test cases?’ Well, depending on how cavalier I want to be, the response back is, ‘I don't know. How long is it going to take the developers to write 500 classes?’" Grizzaffi said in a recent interview with StickyMinds. “Because it's kind of the same thing; you can't know because you don't know until you get into it to figure out where the icky bits are going to be, where the challenges are going to be.”
The challenges are anticipated for the tester, but when a decision-maker hears “testing tool” and “automation,” they can often assume a switch is being flipped, and the testing is getting done.
Of course, that’s just not the case.
“There's a lack of understanding that you need to treat this as a software engagement. You need to have experienced people working on it,” Grizzaffi continued. “Or, if you're going to start with inexperienced people, that's fine, too. Just be prepared for them to make mistakes, and allow them to grow and evolve on that, but you have to be very patient. It's going to take a lot longer to do it that way.
“And it takes planning. You have to plan this in. There's an opportunity cost where if you're automating with people that you already have, then there's some other stuff they're not doing.”
The last thing managers want to hear is that the money they’re investing in automation tools isn’t going to make everything instantly easier. But it takes time, patience, and a general understanding of the different processes involved to make test automation work for everyone involved.