Test Automation – Is it a Specialized Career? Can Normal Testers Do Automation Also?

I’m really happy to share a wonderful guest post by Gunasekaran Veerapillai. He is working as a competency Head in Wipro Technologies Testing Services.

Gunasekaran has covered an interesting transformation of the Automation industry – How it was a few years ago and where is it heading now. He has also answered one core question: “ Whether we need dedicated automation experts to do the test automation or whether the normal testers can do automation also?”

So please enjoy and take it away from Gunasekaran!

Test Automation – Is it a Specialized Career

Overview of Test Automation

Test Automation is no longer a niche skill” – “any good business tester with the right attitude can create test automation scripts”.

automation expert

Over the last decade, test automation has undergone multiple facets of change. Some vendors have introduced new tools, open-source tools have come to stay, and still, some vendors are marketing their products as the ultimate solution for Quality.

CTOs of the organizations are convinced that automation is going to give them greater benefits in squeezing the cost and time over the long run.

Service providers have introduced several ultimate frameworks which save the effort of automation testers – right from standard data-driven, Key-word, Hybrid to script-less frameworks whereby business users can create automation scripts without the hassles of Java or VB scripting knowledge.

This ultimately led us to the question of whether a dedicated automation test scripting community is required or whether normal testers can also do automation? There are many articles stating that test automation should be group automation – there should not be a dedicated, aligned team working on automation scripts/projects.

How about both

While managing a test automation project during 2002, I was hunting for testers with a development background. I wanted them to be part of the team as the automation tool we employed in the project used created the code in a propriety language similar to “C”.

Any upgrade to the script is easily done by a tester who has the knowledge of the programming language. Then came the automation frameworks where the expertise in language helped the tester to write the “reusable functions” which are expected to save the considerable time of the automation developers.

Secondly, test automation developers were expected to convert the already written test cases into automation scripts; they were rarely expected to have the knowledge in the business to understand the same from the right perspective before creating the scripts.

Test Automation as a preferred profession in Software Testing grew leaps and bounds over the next few years until the great recession struck us during 2008. Clients started questioning the ROI out of the automation scripts developed over a period of time and the re-usage percentage of these scripts for the subsequent releases.

They were really shocked to see that in many cases test automation has not yielded the desired results and scripts require more maintenance to keep them LIVE to their current applications. Only very few clients where the technology is web-centric got excellent benefits in saving the cost and time due to Automation.

Test Automation – Current Status

#1) From automating the Regression test cases, automation is moving towards life cycle test automation. Clients have started exploring the various stages of the test life cycle which can be automated with the right set of tools required for automating such manual work.

#2) Automation testers are expected to have good business knowledge with the advent of model-based testing. Clients cannot hire separate testers to create the model and automate the test cases.

#3) Business Process automated test packs help the clients to reduce the time to market for the standard & established applications and products.

#4) Clients find it difficult to choose the right tool vendors as there are multiple boutique shops that offer customized frameworks and script-less automation frameworks.

#5) The Test Management tools have been completely integrated with the test life cycle and on the fly customized reports are generated.

#6) Integration with different vendor tools sets in terms of requirements management, test management, test script execution, defect management is easily managed by the team which gives more flexibility in choosing the appropriate vendors/tools.

#7) Multiple customized utilities that help the testers to reduce the redundant manual work have been created and promoted as differentiators by the independent testing vendors and some are even pricing them on the value the client gets.

Let us come back to the question which we asked at the beginning of this article – “Is a dedicated automation tester required or still automation holds a key as a career ladder?

While one can agree that test automation has become much simpler and manual testers with good business knowledge can pick up automation, the expectation from an automation expert has gone to a different level. Anyone can execute the test automation scripts created by an expert.

However, there are different skill sets with more technical knowledge which cannot be easily acquired by a manual tester overnight.

Manual vs Automation

Test automation experts are expected to give the overall automation strategy for the entire product/application lifecycle – gone are the days when they were requested to automate the already finalized test cases or scenarios.

They need to identify the right set of tools for each stage of the life cycle and provide a seamless integration strategy which is cost-effective. No client is ready to wait for 6 to 8 cycles to get the return on investment.

Apart from that, they are expected to define and develop multiple sets of utilities that reduce the redundant manual testing work and test data generation work.

To conclude, Test automation experts will remain strong as technical professionals and yet the standard redundancy part of test automation (sounds familiar? – history repeats) may get merged with the group testing.

About the Author – Gunasekaran Veerapillai (Guna) worked as a Test Project Manager at Thinksoft, HCL Technologies and Covansys (CSC).  He is currently working as a Competency Head at Wipro Technologies Testing Services. With 30+ years of experience in Banking Industry and IT, Guna specializes in Test Portfolio assessments, Test process assessments and Automation assessments for many BFSI clients.

Guna has co-authored a book called Software Testing and Continuous Quality Improvement Third Edition, along with Bill Lewis. He also presents papers on International Software Quality conferences conducted by QAI.

Over to you

Are you working on Test Automation or do you want to work on Test Automation? You will be facing some challenges in implementing the automation framework. Please do not hesitate to include your queries in the comments below. We will make sure to get those addressed.

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