Automated testing and saving money

I am embarrassed when I hear test tool sales people talk about how much money automated testing can save your organisations. I have heard them rattle off figures like ‘it’ll save you 85% of testing effort‘ and ‘it will reduce the number of manual testers that you need to employ‘.

These statements are wrong and contradict many of the lessons learned in software testing, including “Lesson 102: Speed the development process instead of trying to save a few dollars on testing”, and “Lesson 108: Don’t equate manual testing to automated testing”.

Because Watir is not a commercial tool and there are no up front licensing costs, I suppose that a return on investment doesn’t need to be justified in quite the same way. I do understand there are maintenance costs of Watir (time and effort), but if you incrementally implement Watir sensibly you can easily show the benefits as you go.

One of the best things I have heard someone say about automated testing is that it is one of the only things that can increase both quality and velocity.

For example, making sure that every line of code checked in has been peer reviewed may indeed increase quality but it may also severely impact velocity.

By contrast, doing daily builds may increase velocity, but it may also decrease quality if each build isn’t tested properly.

So, what the test tool vendors need to really say is that, automated testing, done well, can increase your quality and velocity. And while they’re at it, they may as well mention that Watir rivals many of the proprietary offerings, plus it has no licensing costs.

Author: Alister Scott

Alister is an Excellence Wrangler for Automattic.

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