How to get off the Test Automation Island?

Hi. I somehow ‘rolled’ into a job as a test automation engineer, without any previous experience in either testing or test automation. For a while now I’ve been observing the way things are being done, and just took them as they came. I didn’t really think about whether test automation (at least the way we do it) was the best way to go.
As things don’t always go as smoothly as I would like, I started reading up on testing and automation, listening to podcasts and generally trying to get more information and involvement in the testing community. (I feel like a total idiot for not doing that before, since a whole new world is opening up to me)

I’m now not completely convinced that our way is the best way anymore. The test automation team has been in place since a very long time, and the definition of what is or isn’t the responsibility of the team has been changing over time. The people have changed. The work load has changed. And all this time, development has been working on.

We are currently only in some kind of maintenance mode, and I’m definitely struggling to see the added value of our team in the organisation. But for some reason after all these years, we still exist. We don’t really collaborate with either development or the ‘other testers’, but we exist.

I think my main question is: if you already have a team of automation engineers, how do you get the focus back on quality, instead of maintaining what is already there, and has been there for a long time?

1 Like

How much spare time do you have? You could spend a few hours a day for a week putting together a high level map of how different parts of your system under test integrate with each other. Then after you’ve identified all of the touchpoints, you can identify what automated tests you have that cover these. After doing this you can find gaps in your automated test coverage and work on these gaps.

It’s great that you’re finding out more about testing and researching different things. You’re definitely on the right track and have a great mindset. I don’t think there is a perfect way to get the focus back on quality, however, you can plan really well and communicate your quality goals to the wider business. Everyone in the business is accountable for quality a little bit too, they just don’t know it.

1 Like

Thanks for the reply! I don’t have a lot of spare time. But I must be able to find some hours here and there to get that kind of system mapping. I think my communicative skills are quite good, my planning skills are terrible. But maybe if I can get just one other person on board that is better in that department, we can get something going!

I believe it is a perfect scenario so that if I can innovate …
In what way?
Well, many times you and your team will be able to evolve the testing scenarios of your current automations, with low applied effort and thus creating new scenarios, covering new risks, and so on.
A simple strategy would be you evaluate the latest bugs found in production and apply scenarios directly linked to it in your automations.
This is just one of the many strategies you can choose.

One other way is to start “shifting left” - that is, by talking to product owners, developers and business analysts upstream in the development process, see if you can get some sort of earlier input to the definitions and design in the product(s) you are working on.

This may require some degree of culture change in your organisation, because it does sound a little bit as though your dev and test teams work within t heir particular silos, and some managers may not be happy with your trying to step outside those traditional roles. You may have to do some preparatory groundwork with a selected manager to get them to sign up to the idea. But reading your earlier posts, I think you’ve already realised that is something you will have to do anyway.