How to convince management to invest in test automation
Whether you are looking to start with test automation or continue in your test automation environment, getting the “green light” from upper management is crucial for moving forward.
When dealing with management, testers face one of two all-too-common situations. The first scenario is where management does not understand the importance of adding automation testing to the company’s manual testing operations. The second scenario is that management decides to stop test automation in the middle of the implementation process. Either way, both scenarios can be crippling to both QA professionals and the company as a whole.
In situations like these, it is often up to QA to make the case for automation. This article gives some tips for what to focus on when discussing the advantages of automation testing to management.
Discuss test automation from a business perspective
The first way to convince management of the advantages of automation testing is to frame the discussion in a way that focuses solely on how it benefits the business. While technical and feature-based discussions are helpful when it comes to choosing a tool, these shouldn’t be your main points when convincing management that test automation is worthwhile.
The best way to discuss test automation from a business perspective is by focusing on the larger business goals that test automation can help achieve. Here are some important goals that you can focus on when preparing your pitch to your management team:
Shortening release cycles
In the age of digital transformation, companies are increasingly tasked with creating and releasing updates to their software more frequently. This can be achieved in one of two ways: shortening release cycles or by using the time spent during release cycles more wisely (e.g. spending more time on exploratory testing instead of simple, repetitive tasks that are often time-consuming).
Framing the benefits of automated testing in the context of its impact on release cycles will send a clear message to your management team: test automation is both an important and necessary investment. While releasing software updates generally falls under the purview of the development team, management may not realize just how much automation testing helps ensure that these software releases are both high-quantity and high-quality. Ultimately, if updates are frequent but filled with bugs due to improper regression testing, that will not help the company at all. It is important to convey to management how automation testing bridges the gap between frequent software releases and maintaining a high-quality product.
If you have already started implementing test automation at your company, it can also help to show the impact it has made on the company’s release cycles thus far. If your team has reduced test maintenance due to your test automation tool, you can frame that to management as one more thing that doesn’t stand in the way of the company releasing the latest new feature. Seeing the impact of test automation as removing the stumbling blocks in front of development or product will go a long way.
Finding bugs earlier in the development process
Another way to connect test automation to the achievement of business goals is by showing how it helps reduce company costs. A great way to communicate this is by showing how automated testing helps find bugs at earlier stages in the development process, most notably by enabling “shift left” testing. Studies have shown that the earlier you find bugs in development, the less costly they will be for the company to resolve. The way to find bugs earlier in the development process is by doing “shift left” testing, or testing earlier in production.
Automation testing makes “shift left” testing even easier, thereby causing a major reduction in costs for the company. Not only can you run these critical tests to catch bugs early in the software development lifecycle, but you can also find out about them as quickly as possible through its integration with notification platforms such as text, e-mail, or Slack. Codeless test automation platforms offer an even greater opportunity to shift further to the left, as they allow for writing tests before the code is even written.
You can clearly show this advantage of automation testing by highlighting instances where test automation has already helped the team resolve issues when they’re less costly, or where there is an opportunity to reduce the costs that come with fixing bugs. By demonstrating how test automation can address this major pain point, management will be able to see the larger business benefits that automation can offer.
Improving the efficiency of multiple teams
When making a business case for test automation, it’s important to look beyond the scope of the QA team and consider the other teams that will also benefit from such an investment. This often requires showing how test automation will make a positive impact not only on the company’s QA team but on other teams as well, such as development or product.
We’ve already discussed how test automation can help the development team release software updates more quickly, but you should also consider other perks that come with automation. Consider the popular use case of automating tests for large projects. Automated tests are helpful because they can run across multiple browsers and versions simultaneously, executing a large amount of tests in a short amount of time. This allows developers to spend less time on writing or maintaining tests, while the product team can focus more energy on future updates to add to the product roadmap.
Another important advantage to consider is how test automation tools allow for better communication between teams. Test automation tools, particularly codeless test automation tools, create an even playing field for all team members by allowing everyone to operate on the same, visual platform. This creates ample opportunity for stronger communication, as well as more productive knowledge-sharing.
Develop a clear test automation strategy
In addition to showing how automation will benefit the company as a whole, it’s also critical to have a test automation strategy in place when convincing management of this future investment. This is not only important because it will allow for a smoother implementation, but it also lets you set relevant and fair KPIs beforehand. This will make a stronger case for test automation bringing ROI, which will make it less likely that management will cut test automation again in the future.