Automated Software Testing Gears

As we continue to explore the topic of making the business case for Automated Software Testing, one of the key concerns relates to cost. You may be fully aware of the benefits of automation, and even willing to champion its implementation, but it is important to be able to articulate the case for automation in terms of Return on Investment (ROI).

Estimating ROI

A critical part of evaluating and articulating the impact of implementing automation is estimating the cost savings when compared to performing the same tests manually. The savings are based on time saved weighed against the cost of the change.

There are some areas of ROI that are less tangible and difficult to describe in metrics. But for the more measurable areas, we have developed a worksheet that evaluates automation savings, including: test setup, test development, test execution and test evaluation. Other factors to consider are onetime costs such as upfront automated testing setup costs, tool purchase, and recurring costs such as tool maintenance, script development cost, etc.

The following example of a project in which tests are yet to be developed demonstrates using ROI calculations to compare manual and automated test hours and costs gives a framework for evaluation.  If 1,000 tests are planned and the tests will be rerun a total of ten times over the testing lifecycle and the hourly labor rate is $100 (# of tests estimated X # of times tests are run X the hourly rate), the total estimates your testing time and  costs. This example helps develop a method for roughly estimating the ROI of automation and beginning your assessment. (Note: also consider the upfront setup cost and the reoccurring maintenance costs.)

The primary considerations in determining the ROI for automation include:

  1. Developing automated tests requires more effort up front than developing manual tests.
  2. Time for maintenance of tests needs to be considered.
  3. The payoff for automation really comes from tests that are rerun on a regular basis and/or increased test coverage.
  4. The automation of test results analysis can realize time savings as big as those of actual test execution.

When making the business case for Automated Software Testing within your organization, make sure to spend time calculating the ROI. For more specific information, please see our book, Implementing Automated Software Testing.  An experienced software testing partner like Innovative Defense Technologies can help. The results will help you make your case for automation.

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.