Posted by Eric Jacobson at Friday, March 04, 2011
I’ve got a test automation engineer and a bunch of manual testers. The plan, of course, is to teach the manual testers to write automated tests were appropriate; a plan I have seen fail several times. I figured I would take a crack at it anyway. In the meantime, I’m trying to keep the automation engineer busy writing valuable tests.
Everybody knows, choosing the right tests to automate is tricky. But what I’ve really been struggling with is finding the right skillset to actually design (determine the detailed steps) of each test automation candidate.
It turns out, the test automation engineers suck at it, and so do the manual testers. Who knew?
You see, manual testers live in a dream world, where test setup can be customized on the fly, validation can be performed with whatever info the tester decides is important at that moment, and teardown can be skipped altogether. Try asking those manual testers to stub out some repeatable tests to automate. I suspect you will run into a problem.
The test community loves to poke fun at traditional, script-happy, manual testers. Some testers (myself included) talk about exploratory testing or test case fragments as being the cool way to test. They scoff at testers who use rigorous step-by-step test cases. Have you ever encountered said traditional testers? I certainly haven’t. I’m sure they exist somewhere. But I think most of them only exist in a myth we’ve created in order to feel like test innovators.
Why am I such a skeptic about these folks? The truth is, writing repeatable, detailed, step-by-step test cases is really really really hard. If you’ve attempted to automate end-to-end business facing test cases for a complex system, you’ll know exactly what I mean.
On the other side, the test automation engineers are bored with manual testing and obsessed with trying to achieve the near-impossible ROI goals imposed by management. They want the manual testers to write them detailed tests because they don’t have time to learn the AUT.
A tester who makes time for manual testing and test automation has the magic skillset necessary to be an effective test automation author. Each of us should strive to achieve this skillset.