World is simple, we complicate the world for the sake of it – says a friend. There is a simple concept called "automation" and another one "testing cycle time". Why these terms can not be simply understood without much fuss and inquiry? he often argued with me. This friend is a manager and works for IT services company. A constant pouncing on me by this topic of test-cycle-time-reduction-through-automation and related hype, frustration and feeling of achievement, made me to think deep about basic laws or golden principles that govern this phenomenon of cycle-time-reduction.For the benefit of my blog readers, here, I make them public. Read them, understand them, implement them and be blessed. A caution here any criticism and cynicism about these laws will have harmful consequences to the beholder. These are golden principles and axiomatic about test automation!!!!
Second principle – “Definition and Meaning of testing cycle”: Never challenge or probe definitions and meanings of word “Testing cycle”. Keep it (testing cycle time) loosely defined so that you can flip in any direction when confronted by a skeptic challenging your claim of cycle time reduction. The more the vagueness of the term “testing cycle and cycle time”, higher are the chances of meeting goal of reduction of cycle time through automation. Any variables and factors that make “testing cycle” somewhat unclear – should be ignored and not discussed. It is important to have faith in the fact that “testing cycle time” is universally known term and does not need to be redefined in any context. You would be looked upon as genius if you simply talk about “cycle time reduction” and omit the unnecessary qualifier “testing” or “test” (as in “test cycle time”).
Third principle - “Playing to the gallery”: Use words like “business needs”, “business outcome”, “business processes”, “success through business alignment”, “Time to market” etc., liberally during all communications related automation and testing cycles. Confront any opposition by skeptics about automation and its connection to cycle time by “calling authority” – say “Business/Market needs it”. Strongly believe in statements like “Automation will help releasing products and services faster – and hence will improve customer satisfaction and company bottom-line”. Your success in achieving cycle time reduction depends upon how often and how strongly you make reference to “business” and “business needs”. These powerful words that do all the magic required. You need right rhetoric to spread the message. Another important keyword here is “market”. Make sure you thoroughly mix up and use the terms “Testing cycle time” and “Time to market” interchangeably. The more you talk about “Time to market” and how automation can directly help it – more you look authentic and convincing.
Forth principle - “Motivations and Incentives”: Believe economists when they say “incentives” drive change and motivate people. How can this not work here? The last but not least of the measure that one needs to be aware of is to provide incentives for people to reduce cycle time through automation. Define performance goals of individuals involved in the automation in terms of cycle time they reduce through automation. Penalize those that question the idea and fail to meet the performance goals. The automation initiatives tend to be successful in their stated goals of cycle time reduction when they are integrated with performance goals of individuals involved in the game – especially automation team. Also make sure (when automation is done by a decentralized team) to define and impose the performance goals ONLY on automation team and suppress any attempts to include manual testing team. After all automation and testing are not related in anyway and it is the responsibility of automation team to bring about cycle time reduction. Right?
If you find these principles and ideas rather strange and are intrigued – one of the several possibilities is that you might be working in a software product organization as opposed to IT and IT services organization. The folks in software product organizations that build software – unfortunately approach automation some what “differently” and cycle time might not be a very familiar term to you.
If you are not from software Product Company and still confused about the ideas in post and you think they are inconsistent or incoherent with each other – do comment. That is a good sign that you are thinking about the topic.
Let me know if there are other ideas and principles that you might have successfully used to reap benefits of cycle time reduction through (and only through) automation – I would be more than happy to incorporate them with due credit.