Most Test Automation Framework (TAF) implementations fail before they get started

failfailfailsucceed

You know what they say… The best way to learn is to Fail Forward…

Ok, I have a few scars then…  scars

Modernizing or implementing a new Test Automation Framework (TAF) has many of the same challenges as an Agile Transformation.  Whether you are refactoring or starting fresh, TAFs are not considered direct revenue generating.  So, they are treated as that ugly word – Process.   In other words, it gets very little attention.

Has anyone heard their CEO get jazzed up about overhead?  What does your C-Suite think about Process Improvement?  Crickets?

How many times have we heard the following?

“We have smart people, how come our competition can get features to market sooner, more often and with higher quality than us?  We’re the market leader!”

My answer: You have Great Marketing!!  Your competition has a Great Software Development process!

OK, not all C-level management folks care less about process improvement.  Most do care.  Somewhere along their career journey, they have felt the pain… If they haven’t, then good luck trying to get their already sparse attention to process improvement or modernizing of your test automation framework.

Assessment

Without proper attention, due diligence will not be done.  Without due diligence, the depth of implementation details will not be flushed out.  The test automation strategy will not be fully vetted.  Staffing with the correct skills or experience is unlikely to happen.  The costs & effort will be underestimated.  The risks & contingency plans will be unknown.  The interoperability with other tools and DevOps processes will not be fully considered.  And worst of all, the actual return on the investments (ROI) cannot be calculated.

Welcome to my world

Fast forward… under funding your Test Automation Framework implementation projects could result in any or all the following:

  • Lack of implementation guidelines or rules of engagement
  • Lack of elaborated USE cases & insufficient requirements
  • Lack of integration guidelines with other tools such as:
    • Test Case management software
    • Defect management database
    • Version control software
    • Environment management & Reservation Systems
    • Trace-ability tools
  • Lack of data flow, execution flow & overall topology

Miracles and Heroism

Culture, culture, culture…  More like, “Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice”…

beetlejuice[1]

Without the proper executive support, only miracles and heroism can succeed. How do you recognize the culture killers before attempting a TAF modernization project?  The signs are there:

  • Unrealistic schedules
  • Management impatience
  • No metrics or data driven decisions
  • Change adverse
  • No accountability
  • The list goes on…

The tell-tale sign:  Look at the product software development life-cycle and if it’s “tribal knowledge” or “cultural enthusiasm” then your TAF project will never be better than that.

What to do… What to do…

What does every QA lead have to constantly do?  Justify everything…

A solid commercial or a modernized Test Automation Framework, coupled with a well thought out strategy and consistent object oriented guidelines will enable your company to significantly increase the speed of delivery and the quality of your software.   That’s… 

 moneybag

Do your homework

Show all stakeholders the ROI or value that resonates with them.  Show Engineering Management & Executives, what it will take to implement, as follows:

  • A high level project plan
  • An appropriate staffing plan with development skills
  • A well thought out strategy & architectural plan
  • The equipment requirements
  • A Cultural Change plan
  • Make the entire plan agile so you can build it in usable increments

Show Engineering Management & Execs what will happen if you do nothing or under staff, under skill, under fund or push unrealistic schedules – Disaster or maintenance nightmare.  

Show Engineering Management & Execs what they MUST DO to support the effort, such as:

  • Cultural support, “promote, promote, promote”, and allow some hard decisions to happen if necessary.

Show Engineering (Dev & QA) the benefits, the risks, what to learn, what to change & what to do (including uplifting attitudes).

Buy-In:

 thumbs up

If you don’t get buy-in or enough critical mass, your project will fail. 

Preventing Sabotage: 

There’s always 1 or 2 very strong negative influences that will tank every project. Identify them.  If your Cultural Change plan has no effect on the saboteurs, and you cannot remove them from the bus, or change their seat, the bus will crash. Engaging them beyond their comfort zone is usually futile. You have to make more (positive) noise than they do!  Whatever you do, Do Not Ignore Them!!

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure.” – Colin Powell

Hire independent quality consultants

Not sure why this phenomenon exists, but many times, outsiders have more credibility.  Mostly because of their experience and they have no preconceived biases in play.  Regardless, it is worth your while to get an independent view to corroborate what you already know.   And who knows, maybe they’ll point out some things you might have overlooked.  They will provide the needed ROI to get your project funded.  And more than likely, they can help you get over the initial implementation hump and including any backlog items that need refactoring to support the new framework.

Does any of this sound familiar?

If you’ve read this far, thank you.  And I’m sorry.  You have felt the pain.   Contact me, I can help.