Test Automation Objectives

Dorothy Graham, Consultant

Test automation efforts frequently fail because of unrealistic expectations, often the result of choosing poor objectives for automation. Dorothy Graham explains the pitfalls of a number of commonly-held objectives for automation and describes characteristics of good automation objectives. These objectives seem sensible at first and are common in organizations-find more bugs, run regression tests overnight and weekends, reduce testing staff, reduce elapsed time for testing, and automate x% of the testing. Finding more bugs is a good objective for testing, but not for automation, especially automation of regression tests. Running tests outside working hours is only worth doing if the tests are worth running. Reducing testing staff is a management issue, not an automation objective-in the majority of cases, more staff is needed, not less! Reducing elapsed time for testing is meaningless as running automated tests is only a small part of testing. Manual and automated tests should not be the same and some manual tests are not worth automating.

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