Many of our existing customers and some potential new customers come to Fusion Alliance wanting to know more about test automation and if it셲 right for their business.  To answer that question, the following assessments must be done to determine the rationale for or against using test automation.
  1. Assess the maturity level of the customer셲 quality control/quality assurance departments and their processes.
  2. Assess the nature of the engagement Fusion Alliance is being asked to assist the customer with.

These assessments are essential, as many organizations make the mistake of thinking that test automation will immediately reduce the costs of testing, increase test coverage, and shorten test cycles. These are sometimes the longer-term benefits of test automation, but they are not immediately evident. To determine if test automation will indeed reduce costs for the organization in the long term, the ROI must be calculated.  The ROI for test automation is simply the benefit of test automation divided by the cost of test automation.

The cost of test automation is higher than manual testing and should include any costs related to hardware, software and licenses, time for resources to produce scripts, and cost of the resources themselves.

The benefits of test automation must be calculated over a period of time for the software under test and take into account the reduced time to execute tests and the ability to test as frequently as the organization wishes.  These figures should be compared to the costs of manually testing the same software.

Think of the cost of test automation vs. the cost of manual testing as follows:

Cost of test automation = price of hardware needed + price of  tool required + time to develop test scripts + (time to maintain test scripts x number of times test scripts are executed) + (time to execute test scripts x number of times)

Cost of manual testing = time to develop test scripts/charters + (time to maintain test scripts/charters x number of times tests are executed) + (time to execute test scripts/charters x number of times)

After figuring the costs of test automation and manual testing, calculate ROI as follows:

ROI = (cost of manual testing cost of test automation) / cost of test automation

By now, you might be saying to yourself 쐔hat seems too easy.  If you are, you would be correct.  Other factors must be taken into account, such as the benefits of manual testing over test automation.  The most complex parts of the software should be left to a manual tester to analyze to ensure maximum quality.  Context must also be taken into consideration. What is the complexity of the software? What is the size of the software and what is its role in the business? Smaller, less complex applications that won셳 take a considerable amount of time to test won셳 require test automation because the upfront costs will outweigh the benefits gained. Also keep in mind the types of testing you are looking to automate. Each of these different types will have a different ROI that needs to be taken into consideration.

Josh is a Software Test Analyst at Fusion Alliance. He is eager to learn new technologies and share what he learns with others. Josh keeps up on the latest in software testing by reading articles and blogs. Josh also maintains his own blog on software testing. Josh earned his undergraduate degree in English Studies from Ball State University and is a member of AST (Association for Software Testing) and IWST (Indianapolis Workshops for Software Testers).

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