Is it Time for Organizations to Treat Test Automation like a Business?

You have a great idea for a product in mind. You start building your plan from scratch. Then you move onto hiring the best developers for the task who can adopt the latest practices and methodologies to build a cutting edge application. The only concern you have is that you have to get the product out there as fast as possible, therefore, you end up speeding your software development life cycle. Finally, your application is completed. If you thought that the scariest part was over, brace yourself for test automation.

test automation

As simple as it sounds, testing an application takes an enormous amount of time and effort that is often neglected from the fact that it traditionally lies at the end of any software development life cycle. But with the introduction of Automation Testing Services, this process was made much simpler and hassle-free. Quality analysts and testers chose the best tools, created test scripts for the smoke test suite and regression test suite and finally got to click the ‘Run’ button. All that’s left to do was to sit back quietly and watch stuff happen for itself on the screen.

The Age of Test Automation

With automation testing in the picture, testers get to spend time doing a lot of other stuff because the ideal burden of their tasks has reduced to a great extent. They now engage themselves with a lot of exploratory testing with the application along with partaking in other valuable testing pursuits. But, in spite of automation, many quality analysts are still tied up in the mundane tasks of testing an application.

The point is that automation doesn’t work for everyone unless organizations focus their automation efforts on the right activities. Having said this, the above might not be true for all testers who have taken up automation testing for their applications. They might not get the opportunity to explore stuff since they have their test processes to worry about.

The goal of automation is quintessentially to provide value. It should ease the task of manual testers along with helping speed up the application development process as a whole. With today’s fast pace development and rapid product delivery in the picture automaton must be the key that sets the testing apart and not makes it a process that holds back the entire application software.

But, for testing to provide value, it is important to determine, what value is. Most organizations often make this mistake of looking up to others for automating their test cases. So, let’s say if an outperforming business X is automating a particular test case for their business, the latter will follow. And that’s where the problem creeps in. If you truly want to know what is valuable for automation to provide, you must look at it from the lens of business. Understand it as a business and you’ll be able to derive the most out of it. Take it as it is and you’ll miss out on more than a few things you can think about.

Understanding Costs

The when, where and how of automation must be treated like a business. But, the first question that arises is why must one look at automation as some kind of business, instead of an ordinary process. It all starts with understanding that like any other aspect of software delivery, creating automation involves cost both that are directly and indirectly related to money. Even the indirect costs at some point in time translate to money.

Even though automation is considered something that you simply do to test and release faster, it is not that simple at all. That’s why in many cases most quality analysis teams don’t know that they need to talk about automation as a business value. Even those who do have a faint idea of automation as a business, have no clue about initiating a conversation about it. But if one has to understand automation as a business, they must dive down into understanding the opportunity costs around it along with the cost of ownership.

  • In simple terms, opportunity costs are the cost of not performing an activity B because you are performing an activity A. In other words, every bug that is fixed in an application pre-empts working on some other bug. And as a result, there is a cost associated with every bug and defect. Similarly, if you are creating a script for an end to end GUI interaction, it directly means that you are not creating multiple numbers of scripts. While the first method works for some organizations, the latter works for others.
  • The total cost of ownership, on the other hand, sums up the direct and indirect costs involved in carrying out an activity. Directs costs are easy to identify and can be translated in terms of upfront license costs, developer hours, hardware, etc. Meanwhile, the indirect costs are hard to determine are usually the cost of maintenance, upgrades, licenses, etc. But, in automation set up, you will have two aspects to the total cost of ownership. While one is for the automation itself, the other is for the feature or application being developed. By taking the former into account, you get a better picture of costs for your automation endeavor.

Controlling Costs and Maintenance

By taking the total cost of ownership into the big picture, your business gets the opportunity to responsibly make decisions around automation testing. For example, you may realize that code written before automation is generally heavy and has these hooks in them, which ultimately makes automation brittle when implemented on top of it. Furthermore, it also makes maintenance a costly affair. Therefore, the more you can distinguish such identifiers, the more will you be able to reduce your costs and maintenance times in automation testing.


Automation testing can prove magically for businesses but only if you realize its importance as a business itself. Not only does it give you a peek into where you must be investing but it also helps you realize whether this is the kind of automation that your business needs.

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Article Author Details

Jessica Cyrus