When it comes to testing, improving time-to-market can be tricky without sacrificing quality for speed. But as senior IT executives face constant pressure to do so, test automation offers them the best of both worlds—getting a high-quality job done in record time by bypassing the subject matter experts (SMEs) who rarely have the luxury of making testing a priority.
|After automation, most companies are typically able to execute all their SMEs’ testing in half the time—without any loss in quality. And that’s not even counting the massive windfall that the business incurs from saving countless testing-related SME hours.|
Speed is a harsh mistress. At once endlessly tempting and infinitely perilous, we’re drawn to it like moths toward a flame. For what we perceive to be the ultimate advantage, we push ourselves to our limits while our margin-for-error shrinks to a knife’s edge.
And while this kind of mantra is mainly confined to auto racers and adrenaline junkies, I’d argue that few people understand this relationship better than IT personnel. The only difference is that they’re typically not the ones pushing themselves toward the edge; most of the time, its upper management that’s doing the pushing.
More than ever, senior IT executives are under pressure to get projects out the door faster and faster. Naturally, this strain is then transferred to the whole of IT as those same executives task their subordinates to put those plans into action and speed up every phase of project development.
Unfortunately, as those middle managers know all too well, they’re being bullied onto the thinnest part of that knife’s edge. After all, high performance doesn’t come without a price. Tradeoffs always have to be made.
Few things exemplify this relationship better than software testing/QA. When it comes to shortening testing time, IT leaders are largely limited to two choices: decrease the amount of testing overall or try to improve the productivity of the testers themselves. Both solutions are risky (the former sacrifices testing comprehensiveness while the latter can compromise the very quality of the testers’ work) and can leave a whole swath of production-level defects in their wake. This creates costly rework and lengthy delays—completely neutralizing the very advantage they were implemented to achieve.
Luckily, that’s only half the story. The other half is test automation, and it’s the antidote to this pick-your-poison scenario.
With test automation, IT managers get the best of both worlds: faster testing without any quality tradeoff. Whether they’re utilizing Oracle Application Testing Suite (Oracle OATS), Hewlett-Packard Unified Functional Testing (HP UFT/QTP), Selenium, or any of the myriad tools on the market right now, the method is always the same—addition by subtraction.
With large software systems, whether they’re ERP systems like Oracle EBS or custom business apps, subject matter experts (SMEs) tend to be intimately involved in the testing process—especially for smoke testing and user acceptance testing (UAT). The problem here is that SMEs aren’t typically IT personnel (they’re part of the business); thuslysoftware testing/QA managers don’t have any control over their schedules. Oftentimes this leads to SMEs putting testing behind their other business-related responsibilities—dramatically increasing the length of their involvement in the testing process. Once their test cases are automated, though, this problem becomes a thing of the past—as the whole of their testing can be executed with the mere press of a button.
After automation, most companies are typically able to execute all their SMEs’ testing in half the time—without any loss in quality. And that’s not even counting the massive windfall that the business incurs from saving countless testing-related SME hours. That’s truly a win-win for all parties.
Just make sure you keep all that in mind the next time your manager gets a need for speed.