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Sunday, October 2, 2011

Software test automation does not come free - you need to plan for it and budget for resources

I have heard a number of people talk about automation and the benefits it brings to the development team. Sometimes, there is casual talk about how a team can bring about a lot of benefits through the process of doing more automation. Now, it is hard to disagree with this thought. But, you cannot just say that you need to bring in automation and then expect it to happen. It was interesting what happened in one particular case - the team had made a request to put in an automation effort and had asked for some resources for the same; with a proper implementation plan, the resources were granted. However, in the midst of the effort, there was an urgent need to pull in resources for some other effort, and the automation resources were directed to another project.
Now, this sort of thing happens from time to time, and it is perfectly legitimate to prioritize resources when there is a need. But it is also necessary that expectations are then tempered when such changes in resourcing happens. In the current case, after some time, the management came inquiring about the automation effort, the status, and when the project will get completed. This was primarily because the automation effort had in turn promised to relieve some QE resources who were doing the tasks that automation had promised to solve.
This in turn lead to a discussion that got a bit heated where it was clear that even when the resources were diverted, there was an expectation that somehow the automation project would also proceed (maybe by making sure that people were working on this over the weekend or by dedicating much more time). At this, the team started getting heated since because of the overall tight scene, they were already putting in more time; at this heated discussion, finally the management understood that in order to get things done, they need to ensure that resources are in place.

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