The 10–10–10 Rule of Test Automation

  • 21 July 2021
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The 10–10–10 Rule of Test Automation

Test automation can increase productivity and reduce costs and risks. But the right approach is needed to achieve these long-term benefits. To gain those, you need to follow the 10-10-10- rule of test automation.

Like any major technology initiative, there are no guarantees. Simply introducing test automation into your team’s development process is not a turnkey proposition. Without proper alignment with people and processes, it can be a failure.

The success of automation depends on 7 factors. I will now share them and also explain the 10-10-10 rule. When used together, they form a successful and long-term test automation strategy 🔥

1. Get buy-in from your team

Of course, this advice applies to any significant changes to a strategy in a company.

This can be especially true with test automation, which sometimes carries negative connotations. This does not have to be the case, especially if you explain the strategy and how it will benefit the company as a whole, both in terms of the organization and the individual positions.

Even if you already have tools in mind, listen carefully to your team’s suggestions. They will use it the most, and they won’t use it if they don’t think it can do the job.

Some team members may have doubts about test automation and the amount of work it will require. Allay their fears by identifying and achieving quick wins that will make life easier for them.

2. Don’t underestimate resource needs

In terms of “automatic ”, there is a common misconception that “automation = resource savings”. Indeed, cost savings of all kinds — not just financial — is a potential benefit of increased automation. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that automation is a plug-and-play proposition.

You will need to plan appropriately for the ongoing operation and the maintenance of the automated test, especially when changes are required.

To be successful, your team must keep in mind that most test automation costs occur when the automation model needs to be changed. Therefore, one of the key considerations for test automation success is to ensure that the ability to maintain and quickly change any automation in place can be executed effectively.

Where specialist scenario writing staff are required, managers need to clearly view the total costs associated with the changes.

3. Choose the right tools for your organization

Buy-in and resource planning lead to this next key success factor: choosing the right automation tools for your team. Automation on a toolchain that your team members don’t want to use, is unnecessarily complex, or that simply doesn’t fit your needs — will create problems that will hinder success 😣 It’s also important to pick a tool that will have easy team collaboration features.

When building your ideal automation framework, it is crucial to focus on 3 key attributes: flexibility, simplicity & usability. Any test automation tool should be flexible enough to cover 90% of your use cases.

From set-up to long-term usability, you need to have each of these attributes in your automation tools to achieve long-term results. Any solution with a too steep learning curve will put off most of your team members, who are already busy doing their usual work.

4. Automate processes as part of a long-term plan

It is necessary to start incrementally rather than trying to tackle the entire software development life cycle or a workflow of the same magnitude all at once. Your incremental approach to automation should be part of a broader, long-term plan to achieve your goals.

Do not fall into the automation misconception that automating a process means that you will never have to think about it, or that it will no longer require human intervention. Like any other intervention in the SDLC, automation is a feedback loop that requires monitoring and maintenance. Circumstances will change, the environment will evolve and new requirements will arise regularly. These conditions will require maintenance and updating of your automation framework.

5. Consider a dedicated automation lead

If automation efforts are simply grafted into a person’s existing job description, you may not get the best results. If you invest significantly in automation, it is likely to affect several existing roles. But that long-term strategy just mentioned above might be better served by someone specifically tasked with executing it.

It is advisable to identify a person who will lead the automation efforts and make sure they have both the expertise and the time to execute.

Successful implementation requires companies to master the amount of information needed for automation. These include all inputs and outputs, variables, documented workflows, and identification of the business processes where automation makes the most sense.

6. Avoid the Rube Goldberg effect

Automation done right should simplify processes and reduce repetitive, low-skill tasks, freeing your team for projects that make the most of their talents. Poorly executed automation will create as much — if not more — complexity as it removes, which is counterproductive.

Try to avoid the Rube Goldberg effect, when an automation solution becomes so complex that no one but the original author has a chance to understand how it all works together. It is imperative to provide solid and concise documentation 📑 Try to create reusable and simple processes by themselves.

7. Recognize projects where automation may not be appropriate

While test automation is booming, to be successful, you also need to be aware of projects where automation may not be the best solution for your business.

Good test cases for automation are ones that are run frequently and require large amounts of data to perform the same action. You can get the most benefit out of your automated testing efforts by automating:

  • Repetitive tests that run for multiple builds.
  • Tests that tend to have human errors.

The 10-10-10 rule

The 10-10-10 rule symbolizes how you will feel about the choices you make in the near & far future, which will help you make a decision. You might not like it in the next 10 minutes, but think about what it can get you in the long run, and then make up your mind… ✨

The 10–10–10 Rule
Source: Moreno Zugaro’s Medium blog

While using the 7 mentioned factors, this rule can help you make great decisions regarding your test automation. Think about the benefits it can gain you later on rather than focusing on the difficulty in the near future.

Final thoughts

As you can see, there are many reasons why automation fails in the long run, but now that you are aware of these considerations, you can significantly improve the chances of success in your project.

Remember that the work does not stop once the automation is done! Maintenance is just as important, and needs to be done to gain success in the long run 🥇

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