Amith Pulla, Intel Corp
For most QA leads or managers, it’s always difficult to get the project manager (PM) to invest in test automation. The term project manager refers to the person who manages the project funding and expenses. Sometimes program manager or project sponsor owns the function of managing the funding and resources. Project management as a function exists in both traditional and agile environments, as project cost management is not in scope for most agile development practices including Scrum. It’s important to learn how project managers and stakeholders view test automation and what the impediments in investing in test automation are. Test automation costs are mainly associated with resources, training and tools. For example, a senior program manager once said, “Test automation is great thing to have, but not a great thing to invest in”. This paper looks into how project managers view test automation and try to measure its value or ROI (Return on Investment). This paper also offers guidance to QA and Testing teams on how to show the value of test automation in the terms that project managers can easily understand.
Project managers view the project from the classic triple constraint model that mainly includes Scope, Cost (Resources + dollars), Schedule, and Quality management. Project managers don’t see a direct correlation between these four project variables with investing in test automation and are usually reluctant to invest in test automation. Investing in test automation has a measureable value on at least 3 out of 4 project attributes and individual metrics can be created for each attribute to show that overall ROI can be in positive territory over time. With the right metrics PMs can be more confident in investing in test automation.
To make a case for investing in the test automation, the QA lead needs to translate investments and ongoing costs for test automation into positive impact on project attributes: Cost, Schedule, Quality and Risk. Once the decision is made to invest in test automation, the QA lead needs to provide an individual metric for each of the four projects’ attributes that shows tangible and measurable value to project managers in the terms they most care about.
This paper tries to offer methods, examples and metrics to QA and test leads to show the value of test automation in both traditional and agile environments, with a focus to get the project and program managers to invest and trust in automation efforts.