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Establishing the Case for Automated Software Testing: Identifying the Need

We recently began a blog series about making the business case for Automated Software Testing. These articles are intended to equip those who already understand the advantages of automation—that it saves time, decreases costs and improves quality—and want to convince others of its value. The first step in establishing the business case for Automated Software Testing within your company or program is to identify the business need.

It is important to be able to articulate the reasons for initiating Automated Software Testing. For example, your company may be missing deadlines due to time delays and you need to speed up your testing process. Maybe a previous project was too costly and you need to find ways to tighten your testing budget. Or perhaps the morale of your test team is waning and you need to give them better tools.

Need to Accelerate Testing Time

If a test or set of test activities is considered critical, complex and likely to be run often, then automation can improve software delivery time.  Test setup activities like restoring test baselines and resetting the preconditions can be very time-consuming. Automating these activities can reduce the test effort by more than 50%. Consider the effect of being able to run previously labor-intensive tests during the night. Researching potential time-saving factors such as these can objectify the impact of automation and bolster the business case for its use. After all, even the best test teams can’t be successful if they run out of time.

Need to Decrease the Testing Cost

If testing is accelerated and efficiencies are increased, one of the benefits can be a decrease in testing cost. In order to accurately weigh potential cost savings, you must first determine your current testing costs. This figure can be further broken down by test type to see which ones are the most expensive. Additionally, it is important to weigh which tests add the most value, are repeated most often, and are the most labor intensive. This exercise will help pinpoint which tests it makes the most sense to automate.

Need to Use Employee Skills More Effectively

An effective test team is an invaluable resource and is essential to producing quality software. Building a cutting-edge product or running tests on a new software release can be exciting and engaging for testers. However, by the third or fourth release of a product, some of that excitement can evaporate. By its very nature, manual testing can be cumbersome, error-prone and mundane. The temptation for testers to cut corners lurks. Automation transforms the process of repeating tests and frees testers to focus on more complex and more interesting testing issues. In our experience, this can help improve tester morale.

When making the business case for Automated Software Testing within your organization, make sure to spend time identifying the needs that exist and researching how automation can meet those needs. An experienced software testing partner like Innovative Defense Technologies can help.

Some information taken from:  Dustin, Elfriede, Thom Garrett, and Bernie Gauf.  Implementing Automated Software Testing: How to Save Time and Lower Costs While Raising Quality. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Addison-Wesley, 2009. This book was authored by three current IDT employees and is a comprehensive resource on AST.  Blog content may also reflect interviews with the authors.