We are pleased to present an insightful guest post by Gunasekaran Veerapillai, the Competency Head at Wipro Technologies Testing Services.
Gunasekaran has delved into the intriguing evolution of the Automation industry – its status years ago and its projected path forward. He has also addressed a key question: “Do we need dedicated automation experts for test automation or can traditional testers handle automation too?”
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We hope you enjoy this piece by Gunasekaran!
An Overview of Test Automation
“Test Automation is no longer a specialty skill” – “any competent business tester with the right mindset can create test automation scripts”.
In the past decade, test automation has seen various transformations. Some providers introduced novel tools, open-source tools became permanent fixtures, and a few vendors advertised their products as the ultimate Quality solutions.
Organization’s CTOs are confident that automation will yield significant cost and time savings in the long run.
Service providers have put forth various innovative frameworks that ease the work of automation testers – from standard data-driven and Keyword, Hybrid to script-less frameworks that enable business users to create automation scripts without needing Java or VB scripting knowledge.
This leads us to question whether we need a dedicated community of automation test scripters or if regular testers can handle automation? Numerous articles suggest that test automation should be a team effort – there should not be a dedicated team exclusively focusing on automation scripts/projects.
While managing a test automation project in 2002, I sought testers with a development background. I wanted them on my team because our project’s automation tool generated the code in a language similar to “C”.
Any script modifications are easily handled by a tester familiar with the programming language. Then automation frameworks arrived, where language proficiency helped testers write the “reusable functions” anticipated to save automation developers significant time.
Meanwhile, test automation developers were expected to convert pre-written test cases into automation scripts; rarely were they required to possess business knowledge to understand the proper perspective before creating scripts.
Test Automation became a favored career in Software Testing, growing exponentially over the following years until the severe recession hit in 2008. Clients began questioning the ROI from the automation scripts developed over time and the percentage of script reuse for future releases.
They were surprised to find many instances where test automation hadn’t produced the expected results and where scripts needed more maintenance to remain relevant to their current applications. Only a few clients, mainly tech-oriented ones, saw substantial cost and time savings due to Automation.
Test Automation – Present State
#1) Automation is shifting from automating regression test cases to full life cycle test automation. Clients have started investigating the various phases of the test life cycle which could be automated with the appropriate set of tools.
#2) With the advent of model-based testing, automation testers are expected to possess solid business knowledge. Clients cannot afford to hire separate testers to create models and automate test cases.
#3) Automated business process test packs assist clients in speeding up the market release for standard and well-established applications and products.
#4) Clients find it challenging to select the right tool vendors due to the many niche shops offering customized frameworks and script-less automation frameworks.
#5) The Test Management tools are now fully integrated with the testing life cycle, generating personalized reports instantly.
#6) Integration with different vendor tool sets in terms of requirements management, test management, test script execution, and defect management is easily handled by the team, providing greater flexibility in choosing the right vendors/tools.
#7) Various custom utilities have been developed that aid testers in minimizing repetitive manual work. These are being promoted as differentiators by the independent testing vendors and are occasionally priced based on the value they deliver to the client.
Let’s revisit the question we raised at the beginning of this article – “Do we need a dedicated automation tester, or does automation still serve as a potential career path?
While it’s undeniable that test automation has become simpler, and that manual testers with strong business knowledge can do automation, the expectations of an automation expert have escalated. Anyone can run test automation scripts created by an expert.
However, certain skill sets requrie more technical knowledge and cannot be easily mastered by a manual tester overnight.
Test automation experts are now expected to deliver a comprehensive automation strategy for the entire application/product lifecycle – gone are the days when they were asked only to automate the finalized test cases or scenarios.
They are required to identify the right set of tools for each lifecycle phase and provide a cost-effective, seamless integration strategy. Clients are no longer willing to wait six to eight cycles to reap the return on investment.
More so, they are supposed to define and create various utility sets that reduce redundant manual testing work and test data generation work.
In conclusion, test automation experts will persist as technical professionals, but the routine part of test automation may merge with team testing, echoing familiar past patterns.
About the Author – Gunasekaran Veerapillai (Guna) held the post of Test Project Manager at Thinksoft, HCL Technologies, and Covansys (CSC). He is currently the Competency Head at Wipro Technologies Testing Services. With over 30 years of experience in the Banking Industry and IT, Guna specialises in Test Portfolio evaluations, Test process evaluations, and Automation assessments for numerous BFSI clients.
Guna has co-authored a book titled Software Testing and Continuous Quality Improvement Third Edition, alongside Bill Lewis. He also presents papers at International Software Quality conferences organized by QAI.
Do you work with Test Automation, or are you interested in doing so? You may encounter challenges when implementing the automation framework. Feel free to share your questions in the comments below. We will ensure they are addressed.