How to Empower Your Team with Test Automation

Antoine Craske

Posted On: March 17, 2023

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Empower Your Team with Test Automation

Test automation is a critical capability that makes the difference in delivering software with quality and speed, letting the team adapt faster software changes to meet the quality requirements. But its implementation is hard.

Test automation has become an essential tool for organizations looking to stay competitive and deliver high-quality products on time and on budget in the rapid pace of technological change and increasing complexity of software systems.

The integration of test automation activities in the software delivery pipeline requires the transversal collaboration of multiple actors not necessarily familiarized with quality or testing activities—and that’s why a leader needs to empower the team to succeed.

Organizations, pressured by accelerated competition, have to lead fast transformations to capture opportunities before challengers do. This article shares how to make the difference when it comes to accelerating software delivery with test automation.

Share the value of test automation

Your team has to understand that test automation is not just a tool for quality assurance or testing teams. It is a valuable capability to develop for the entire software development process and for the business.

The value of test automation lies in its ability to improve the quality and speed of software delivery, which in the end helps the company to develop better products and services for its customers more quickly and more efficiently.

Software teams that try to accelerate without test automation face accumulating technical debt that sooner or later translate into painful issues like recurring bugs, extra hours to fix problems, or performing recurring manual tests that are of low interest and too slow.

Your team has to understand the following benefits of test automation:

  • Faster and stable software delivery
  • Confidence to rework and change software
  • Save time for more valuable activities
  • Better understanding of expected software behavior
  • Production efficiency by detecting and fixing issues earlier
  • Maintain requirements up-to-date improving organization stability

The recommended way to share the value of test automation is to acculturate your team with external examples of successful usage of test automation for similar problems you are facing. That way, people can start to consider test automation as a realistic solution for what they want to improve, avoiding feeling forced to do so.

From that point, your responsibility as a leader is to envision the path to follow, share lights out of the tunnel, and help them to visualize the future with better outcomes than the current situation leveraging test automation.

Lead the way for the first steps

Having the team convinced about the value of test automation is the first step. Still, much ambiguity will remain about which actions to follow, whom to involve, and what to focus on as a priority.

The responsibility of a leader is to navigate that initial fog, deconstructing the complexity into clear outcomes the team can follow. The clarity of actions will enable the team to focus on the first actions to implement test automation.

As a leader, you have to clarify:

  1. What are the desired outcomes
  2. Which scope is the priority
  3. What will change concretely
  4. Who is involved and should do what
  5. Which external resources are needed.

The definition of this initial perimeter enables you to set the stage for an early-win team and share more broadly in the organization about the change. The advantages of a small team are to test and adapt new processes more rapidly with minimum effort.

The team will encounter roadblocks and issues in the first steps of implementation. Your role as a leader is to help them in problem-solving to demonstrate that the subject is essential and how you expect things to be solved.

As test automation involves technology, the tooling question will be a structuring one to address early on to set your team on the right track.

Invest in the right tools and technologies

Adopting the right technology makes test automation more efficient, effective, and accessible for your team to set up and maintain in the long run. Once again, your responsibility as a leader is to step back to improve the decision taken for your organization.

Many tools compete in the test automation space to help teams deliver better software. Your value is to set clear priorities of what will be a game-changer for your organization, and what should not be looked at all.

The important part is to clarify the structuring requirements specific to your context:

  • Which test techniques are more valuable first?
  • What integrations are must-have for example with CI/CD?
  • Does the tooling support better collaboration, sharing and reporting?
  • Are tests implemented with low-code and coding, which languages?
  • Can you combine multiple test techniques like Web & API?
  • How do functionalities ease setup and maintenance?

Answering these questions will clarify the most important functions and requirements your organizations need to capture value from test automation. The next step is to translate the requirements into possible technology solutions.

Test Management, Test Execution, and Test Reporting are the major vertical solutions needed to implement test automation. Specific narrowed tools exist for each vertical, but there are also unified test automation platforms like LambdaTest that bundle the offer.

The main capabilities to look at in your choice is the usability of the solution by different profiles to foster end-to-end collaboration in the organization. The availability of on-demand devices, native reportings, and intelligent features is also a strong factor of creating more value with test automation, and of the capability of the tool to be innovative.

Learn from results to replicate

Learning from the results of your automated tests enables you to replicate successes and avoid mistakes in the future, and develop a continuous improvement culture that is essential to increase the maturity of software quality practices.

One of the key benefits of test automation is to generate useful data that can be analyzed to identify patterns and trends. This data can be used to identify key areas of improvement and identify bottlenecks in processes to know where to focus your team’s efforts.

Based on the data, you can, for instance, identify which tests are taking the longest to run, are failing most frequently, and providing the most value. With more maturity, you can even prioritize test execution based on their value to get faster feedback loops.

But learning is not only about the tests and technology.

Performing retrospectives with your team enables you to discover other areas of improvements such as in processes, skills, and even organizational issues, providing you with the big picture necessary to solve structuring problems.

That learning process will support the expansion of test automation practices in your organization much more easily. Leverage also internal influencers and people ready to act as key users to diffuse more efficiently what works best in your context.

With the right tooling, you can accelerate the deployment of test automation by providing on-demand training, resources, and ready-to-use templates. You then have to continuously encourage collaboration and communication to keep improving in the long run.

You can also empower your team faster and save them valuable time by addressing key challenges of test automation right from the start.

Anticipate main challenges by design

Each organization is different, but common challenges will be faced when implementing test automation, whatever the context. One essential responsibility of a leader is to address them early on to set the team in the best conditions to make a difference.

Managing changes in organizations is about evolving in realistic transition stages that will bring enough value and manage the risks involved. Correctly size the challenges of each transition will sustain the team’s momentum and motivation.

Here’s common test automation challenges to address early on:

  1. Produce valuable outcomes by focusing on concrete problems where test automation can makes the difference and show its value to the organization
  2. Reduce initial cost and effort of implementation limiting scope, tools and processes to the essential, and using SaaS to limit capital expenditures
  3. Availability of skilled and experienced profiles you can manage with internal mobility, external expertise, and complement with on-the-job training
  4. Limit maintenance and updates efforts requiring to limit automation at first to increase its stability and ability to update them with software changes
  5. Clarity of leadership and coalition leading first, and progressively defining a responsibility model to spread test automation responsibilities across teams

Leaders have to balance the competing demands of different stakeholders and priorities to address these challenges. It requires proactivity and adaptability to effectively adapt the value proposition of test automation to each stakeholders interests.

Anticipating issues is the hard part of leading transversal changes in organizations like test automation. but will contribute to the most important goal of supporting the organization in remaining competitive today’s digital competition landscape.

Empowering for Better and Faster Software

Test automation creates a differentiating advantage for organizations searching to continuously deliver Quality at Speed software. More than technology, test automation favors an end-to-end collaboration on the delivery of better and faster software.

Your responsibility as a leader is to develop a test automation capability by empowering your team to overcome the first obstacles and set the right foundations that will generate valuable outcomes for the organization, to then be deployed more broadly with other teams.

There’s no valuable transformation without challenges — that’s where a leader able to empower the team can unlock the potential of each team member to solve whatever problems emerged to progress towards the delivery of better and faster software.

Conclusion

Empowering your team with test automation is a journey leaders must be able to lead at different parts of the organization to succeed. It is not about one-shot efforts, but about leveraging test automation as the accelerator of business transformation.

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Antoine Craske

Passionate about digital, architecture, transformation with more than ten years of experience in the software industry in different positions as engineer, project director, engineering director, IT transformation, management and architecture. Founder and organizer of the QE Unit, the Quality Engineering community. Director of Architecture & Technology at La Redoute, Co-Founder of Cerberus Testing, Partner at atale.io. Meetup organizer at TICE.Leiria, Ministry of Testing Leiria.

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