A note on automation
It is widely acknowledged within the testing industry that Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 was a textbook testing failure and a watershed moment in the company’s recent history.
This fiasco resulted in a large hit to their profit margins alongside massive reputational damage. For me, as a young QA manager, it highlighted that ensuring quality in the all-seeing age of social media must be a principal priority for any organisation releasing and developing new products.
In order to generate confidence in a product, companies should engage in several cycles of quality assurance. For example; manual testing of software, stress testing the limitations of a platform, and performance testing are all regularly used and integral to ensuring the quality of a product in the market. Traditional testing roles have evolved rapidly in the last couple years as organisations increasingly strive to focus their efforts on continuous development, whilst seeking the highest form of quality. Automation has emerged as a central part of the testing process.
As organisations pour investment into the development of automation skills, they are actively freeing up massive amounts of time in which employees are able to add value to quality assurance in other ways (i.e. the analysis of platforms). This has led to a major shift in the skills required for testing and QA over the last few years as open source technologies have become more accessible to both large and small organisations. As a result, there has been a clear move towards more technical based testing.
I would argue that traditional testing roles are no longer as explicit as they once were, as Testers are now often intimately involved during the Development and Business Analysis phases of a project lifecycle. As a result, employees outside of the Testing function are now far more likely to be conscious of the need to ensure quality and thus work in a more collaborative manner ahead of product releases. However, despite a positive shift in most teams, and an increase in the number of technical skills learnt by Testers, I believe it is crucial to maintain the traditional core skills and mentality of manual testing in order to lead the testing process as a whole.
Although there has been a clear increase in the demand for automation testing roles across the industry, several challenges to the maintenance of automation have emerged. The 2018 – 19 World Quality Report (WQR)* discusses how the level of automation of test activities is “still very low”. In the report, over 60% of respondents highlighted “difficulties automating their QA and testing processes” due to frequent changes to platforms with every release. Such a scenario is leading to struggles in order to maintain a robust testing framework. Thus, I think it is incumbent upon organisations to invest more time in skilling up their employees in order to maintain a stream of steady releases to market without impacting quality.
At CoreStream, the Senior Leadership Team has understood the benefit of investing time and resources into setting up and maintaining an automation function within the QA team. We have taken active steps in training and developing skills, so that we as an organisation can continue to make more changes to a product without the fear of impacting quality when faced with tight deadlines. I believe this change is a positive one and one that I have embraced fully. However, as a manager I will seek to challenge myself to continually recognise and embed a healthy attitude towards the indispensable skills of manual testing and analysis within my team.
CoreStream is continually working in a collaborative manner, allowing manual and automation testing to complement each other during the project and release lifecycle. By using core elements of manual testing alongside the speed and technical intelligence of automation testing we have embedded a faster and more efficient process.