2 months Opinion Pieces

The ‘Magic’ of a True Test Automation Service

In our previous post, ''Where To Begin With Test Automation', we mentioned that maintainability and robustness are often areas where test automation fails. In software engineering, the term ‘maintainability’ refers to how well an application is understood and the ease at which it can be repaired, altered or enhanced. The more difficult a piece of software is to maintain, the more time and money it will cost in the long term. The same can be said for test automation frameworks.

Test automation is still seen to some extent as ‘magic’ and is not properly understood by many. It is often business personnel or test managers who receive regular reports from the automation framework, however, they may be unaware of what good or bad automation looks like (and why would they need to in this role?). But this means that all too often, poorly constructed test automation frameworks remain in use and under the radar for some time. I recall one example where an automation test suite had been in place for several years, yet nobody in the business knew exactly what it was testing and therefore, what value it was providing. Despite this, it was still held in high esteem and a lot of faith was put in the results it produced. Upon examination, many of the test scripts were not actually testing anything! They were merely filling in forms and clicking buttons but contained no assertions or checks - the lack of documentation and detail in the reporting, only magnified the issue.

I have worked as a Test Automation Engineer for many years now and have seen several test automation frameworks that have been delivered to our clients but in need of repair - sometimes due to a lack of consideration for best practice and recognised industry standards. Often, the two main reasons for this are; 1. limited technical skills, and 2. business pressure on the test teams to deliver automation quickly. Putting together a “quick and dirty” solution may yield short-term results but will result in long term technical debt. Through varied experience, over many years, ROQ have developed a number of accelerators and reusable assets, which help us to deliver quality at speed, with an emphasis on maintainability.

At the other end of the spectrum, in the wrong hands, even a high-quality test automation framework can face similar problems - particularly regarding maintenance and reusability. Investing time and money in a well-defined reusable automation framework is worthless, unless it is then managed and maintained correctly. We appreciate that not all organisations have the required experience to take ownership from the outset, so we offer a range of delivery methods to work around this.

ROQ believe in reducing the barriers to automaton and help to empower others to do it for themselves. We do this, not only by providing our clients training in automation but also by developing bespoke automation frameworks designed specifically for their needs - considering their existing tech stack, and any in-house software development skills that may or may not exist within the business.

Our tailored approach helps us make recommendations on which delivery method to use, be it a fully managed Test Automation Service (for those who don’t have the appetite to do it themselves), or a hybrid model, in which the client manages the automation framework themselves but calls upon our expertise when needed.

This is what sets ROQ apart from our competitors, we don’t simply provide a high-quality maintainable solution, but a true service. In the past, ROQ have even helped our clients in the area of recruitment, taking part in the interview process to ensure that the right person was hired, with the correct technical skills to support their drive for test automation. We are willing to go the extra mile to make sure that, wherever you are on your journey with Test Automation, you are able to make progress and realise the true benefits it can bring - this is where you will see real 'magic'.

Felix Walne - Senior Test Automation Engineer at ROQ

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