Global Test Automation Strategy: 10 Strategic Points for Executives to Remember

By Hung Q. Nguyen and Rob Pirozzi, LogiGear Corporation

This article was developed from concepts in the book Global Software Test Automation: Discussion of Software Testing for Executives.

Introduction

Global Test Automation is a strategy that integrates manual software testing, test automation, and global resource strategies to maximize the benefits of software testing while minimizing the costs. For executives, there are ten key points to remember when embarking on a strategy of Global Test Automation, which are enumerated in this article.

Global Test Automation: Ten Strategic Points to Remember

A Global Test Automation Strategy Will Increase Revenue and Decrease Cost
The ultimate benefits of effective software testing are increasing your revenue and decreasing your expenses. Both of these benefits directly improve your company’s profitability. Some of the key internal values that drive this include:

  • Global Test Automation will provide confidence in the consistency and dependability of a product under development throughout the development lifecycle
  • Global Test Automation will allow more time to be spent on development and less time on maintenance
  • Global Test Automation will allow you to more effectively utilize resources and budget due to on-time delivery
  • Global Test Automation will allow more to be done because it can be done cheaper
  • Global Test Automation will allow you to deliver more
  • Global Test Automation decreases time consuming and costly “surprises”

Quality Engineering and Testing Strategy Starts At the Top
The executive team must understand that testing and QA are not synonymous. They must have a thorough understanding of quality assurance and testing, and understand the costs of quality and that quality costs vary depending on where in the development cycle defects are identified and fixed (quality cost is covered in extensive detail in Global Software Test Automation: A Discussion of Software Testing for Executives). The executive that heads up the quality engineering efforts should be fully educated in the intricacies of the organization and testing activities, and must be fully accountable for the quality of the delivered product as well as educating the executive team on these matters.

If the executive team is not driving the quality initiatives of the organization toward improvement, they may actually be hindering them.

Testing and QA Should Be Adequately Funded As a Separate Budget Line Item
You must budget and adequately fund testing and QA as a separate line item. Testing and quality assurance are interrelated with development, but are actually different disciplines that require a different focus and a level of independence from one another. They should have separate budgets so that the test and QA functions are not squeezed by cost overruns in development to the point that they cannot adequately perform their function.

Executive Management Needs Visibility into the Process
Visibility is the capture of data about a product’s quality and associated development and test activities. Visibility will allow executives to understand where they are and allow them to set appropriate goals and make more effective decisions. With the visibility that a well-run test organization provides to management, they will not have surprises. This will give them confidence in the product and service that they deliver to their customers.

Quantitative and Qualitative Metrics Need to be Established
Measurability is the key to visibility. Management of quality engineering and testing should be metrics-driven. The numbers obtained from appropriate, valid, and trustworthy measurements should drive quality improvement initiatives. A valid metrics model is critical to the success of these efforts.

Manual Testing is Unavoidable, but Should Be Minimized
Even when you have a good test automation program in place, you still need to do some manual testing. Usability testing, for example, requires human involvement. However, no more than 5% of tests should be run manually.

Although Automation Solves the Speed Problem, it is Not a Silver Bullet
The most critical thing for a successful test automation program is the test methodology. No matter what tool you use, without a solid methodology in place, it won’t be effective. The tools you select should then support the implementation of your test methodology to help you succeed.

The key to success in automation is focusing your resources on test production rather than test automation. Focus on improving the quality and quantity of your tests, not on automating the tests. No more than 5% of the test effort should involve automating the tests.

Global Software Test Automation Can Also Provide Around-the-Clock Productivity
In addition to the benefits of saving money and time, Global Test Automation can also provide around-the-clock productivity. It is important to understand, though, that to obtain these benefits requires a serious commitment on the part of the local management and significant management oversight. It requires a good working management process to be effective.

Plan First, Execute Second
The Global Test Automation strategy should come first. The methodology is the key to success. The tools then must be selected to support the methodology, and the global resources chosen to work with the methodology and tools. These three factors must be integrated to be successful. This is the key to the success of the Global Test Automation strategy – integrating methodology, tools, and global resources together synergistically.

Be Critical on Staffing – Obtain High Quality Staff and Treat them Well
You need high-quality people on your test team, just like you need high-quality people on your development team and your management team. Do not settle for second-class quality staff. Choosing staff with the appropriate skill sets and aptitudes for testing vs. development is an important aspect of this. Likewise, do not treat your test staff as second class. The test team is critical for the release of quality products. Treating your test staff as well as the quality people on your development team, and investing in them by providing training and a growth path will help you to retain and avoid the turnover problems that often plague Global Test Automation/development efforts.

Conclusion

To implement an effective Global Test Automation strategy that can save a company time and money, executives should keep in mind the ten points outlined above as they put in place their strategy and choose the tactics for implementing that strategy.

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