For a lot of companies, choosing a test automation tool is less about fit and more about what’s already on hand. Unfortunately, that approach—while thrifty in the short term—is entirely backwards. Your ROI doesn’t depend on how much your license costs; it depends on how well your tool aligns with your approach.
Many of the companies that are natural fits for automation also tend to have pre-existing tool licenses on hand, so their IT departments are typically forced to align their strategy with their software.
Of all the old proverbs, few are as reliable as “A bird in hand is worth two in the bush”. No matter what it is you’re doing, rare are the occasions you’ll forsake something you possess for something you don’t—even if it appears to be somewhat superior.
Today, we’re going to talk about an exception to this rule: choosing a test automation tool. Unfortunately, it’s one that a lot of companies haven’t caught onto yet.
There’s no getting around the fact that test automation is a sizeable investment. So when you’re paying up-front to procure your licenses, find developers, write test cases, and automate your scripts, it’s little wonder that upper management is going to want to pinch pennies wherever possible. And since so many of the companies that are natural fits for automation (enterprise-level corporations or companies with a large amount of releases, updates, and/or development projects) also tend to have pre-existing tool licenses on hand, these IT departments are typically forced to align their strategy with their software—instead of finding software that aligns with their strategy.
Now, in most cases, this kind of behavior wouldn’t cause too big of a deal—in fact, it’s easy to see why so many executives are celebrated for cost-saving strategies like this. But this approach is rooted in a potentially-catastrophic misconception: the erroneous belief that all automation tools are created equal.
The truth of the matter is that the tools on the market right now are all tailored to specific approaches. Looking for an open source tool to automate your functional regression testing? There’s a tool for that. Need API testing instead? There’s a tool for that too. No matter your need, whether it’s open source vs. COTS, performance testing or GUI, or anything else under the sun, there’s an automation tool that aligns with your strategy—but it’s on you to know what you want to do first and then find the tool that complements it.
Remember, an ROI in test automation is built on executing a successful strategy. The tool you have may well be the right tool for the job, but you’ve got to make sure it aligns 100 percent with what you need it to do. If it doesn’t, then you risk crippling your expected return before your pilot project even gets off the ground.
If all these considerations are starting to seem a bit intimidating, that’s because they are. But with such a high-investment/high-reward factor, they’re absolutely essential before kicking off your automation project. Fortunately, that’s why we’re here. Whether you’re looking to go it alone and just need a little bit of advice or need a full-service partner to capture and record your scripts, we’re always ready to help. We’ve also got a splendid white paper on the subject, “Choosing an Automated Testing Tool”. It’s a great overview of three of the top tools on the market right now—Oracle Application Testing Suite (Oracle OATS), HP Unified Functional Testing (HP UFT), and Selenium—and some of the considerations you should make before choosing one.
No matter what your automation needs are, there’s no better advice I can give you than to make sure that you understand exactly what you want to do. After all, knowledge is power, right? That’s one proverb I can’t seem to think of any exception to.