Thursday 25 August 2011

The Cost of Automation

This cartoon was designed by Raimond Sinivee. Thanks Raimond!

Raimond had a few comments to say about the cartoon [added to post on 30-Aug-2011]

The idea behind is that, it is hard to justify automation as a testing method to managers. When it is said that we are going to automate stuff, then first answer is: “Yes!”. The answer may change when tester gives tool cost or additional working hours estimate. Manager might go: “Extra cost? I thought that we are going to save!” 
They want to see direct money benefit or labor cost savings. I think this comes from assembly line type of manufacturing. There has been lot of automation and cost savings through that. Testing is not assembly line type of work – it is engineering! So if we want to compare, then we should compare tools cost in engineering, not at assembly.

Automation could be taken as a helping method to cover new aspects of software that are hard or impossible to test manually. Usually these parts are not tested at all. Since nobody is testing newly covered aspects, then it is mostly extra expense to test them.

Tester job is to provide information about risks among other things. Tester tries to find ways to gather information about risks and how to level them. Sometimes a tester needs a tool to find out if the risk is covered. The result of executing a test could be that there is no problem. That is also valuable information if it cleared out a risk, but it is hard to actually calculate the amount of money that was saved. We could calculate the risk impact, but that also might be disputable and manipulated.

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