Founder and CEO of ZAPTEST, with 20 years of experience in Software Automation for Testing + RPA processes, and application development.
Organization of the software automation process is key to the productivity of any QA or business practice in today’s enterprise. Many organizations are lacking productivity due to poor organization during the consideration of their application development structure, change management and skills of their personnel.
A lack of productivity in software automation departments leads to poor-quality software, which results in the loss of company revenue. This then leads to companies downsizing and playing it safe by outsourcing their automation to development teams that are not quality-assurance or business-process oriented. As a result, enterprises are still not achieving desired results in the quality of their software or business operations execution.
One of the keys to successful software automation is the right organization of testing processes. Like in football, the right team formation leads to winning the game. Quality assurance (QA) and BizOps leaders have to understand what team formation will best suit their play. There are many different combinations of team formation, but I’d like to talk about the two most fundamental ones.
Center Of Excellence
The center of excellence (COE) is the centralized organization of software automation testing practices and acts on behalf of the entire enterprise as a service organization. In the COE, it can be efficient to define two roles of engineers: subject matter experts (SMEs) (or QA/business analysts) who are focused on the testing or operational goals as well as scripts and bots execution, and automation specialists (automators) who are focused on the development and maintenance of software automation based on SME requirements.
One of the most efficient ways to organize a COE is to orient SMEs on a particular application under automation (AUA) while the automators develop software automation across an AUA. This way, the organization increases the productivity of software automation by allowing shared infrastructure (functions, objects repositories, test/input data, automation modules) across all AUAs. Also, this formation allows COE teams to reuse automation artifacts (scripts and bots) across missions from QA to BizOps.
Automation Tools For The COE
COE automation tools can be used by both SMEs and automators. SMEs can use tools to record automation flow and create automation documentation. These recorded scenarios can then be handed over to automators, who can convert them into automation scripts and complete their tasks with more sophisticated business logic and programming routines using full scripting functionalities.
Tools at the COE allow enterprises to expedite software testing and business operation execution. Once software automation is ready, SMEs can use a tool that allows scripts and bots to run simultaneously—an approach that maximizes ROI by reusing COE artifacts and consolidating automators’ efforts.
Many enterprises are using Agile/DevOps application development. Unlike with a COE, in DevOps, QA engineers are acting as a single QA source per development team. However, in order to keep quality assurance integrity, they are reporting to a centralized QA leader in the organization and following seamless standards and processes. Considering short application development cycle iterations, DevOps QA engineers start test case development at the application design phase using AUA UI mockups, wireframes or even whiteboard drawings based on the AUA requirements. Their test automation architecture is usually lightweight and flexible to rapid changes.
Tools For DevOps
DevOps QA engineers can use tools to start test automation by scanning mockups. The development of one test script with full business logic is usually faster than the development of the given application functionality. QA engineers can use either no code (scriptless) or scripted workflows. Automated scripts can be executed from any CI hub and scheduled for auto-run, using parallel execution to run the same script on multiple environments at once.
Finding the right automation team formation and structure is key to winning the automation game. The right formation can improve the productivity of the enterprise’s software quality assurance and business operations and increase automation ROI. Automation teams should keep in mind.
• Their development and testing cycles.
• Change management regulations.
• Skills of the personnel.
Automation tools can help enterprises achieve QA and BizOps automation goals, either in the COE or the Agile DevOps formation, all while working collaboratively with SMEs and automators.