Cost-Benefit Analysis of Test Automation

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Summary:

The purpose of this paper is to provide some practical guidance for understanding and computing cost and benefits from test automation. It describes some financial, organizational, and test effectiveness impacts observed when software test automation is installed.

Many managers today expect software test automation to be a silver bullet; killing the problems of test scheduling, the costs of testing, defect reporting, and more. Automating testing can have positive impacts in many areas, and there are many success stories to provide hope that test automation will save money and solve some testing problems.

Unfortunately, there are many more horror stories, disappointments, and bad feelings, even in cases where automation has been beneficial. I have been brought into more than one situation where previous attempts at automating software testing have failed; where large investments have been made in shelfware, and many years of effort creating automated tests abandoned.

The purpose of this paper is to provide some practical guidance for understanding and computing cost and benefits from test automation. It describes some financial, organizational, and test effectiveness impacts observed when software test automation is installed.

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