Test Automation: How to Get a Positive ROI in 3 Steps

Test Automation - 3 Steps to achieve a positive ROI

The World Quality Report 21/22 (WQR) revealed that even more companies are starting to see positive ROI from test automation. 

Test automation has always been able to add value. Primarily by reducing test durations, freeing up resources and accelerating release frequency. However, for most companies, this would come at a price. 

Nowadays though, automation is paying for itself. At least when it’s done right.

In this article, I’ll cover 3 fundamental steps that all successful and efficient automation projects must take, before, during, and even after execution.

Test Automation: Increasing ROI Over Time

We only need to look at the historical WQR’s to chart automation’s progress in this area:

  • 2017 – 16% of respondents saw an ROI from test automation
  • 2020 – 37% of respondents saw an ROI from test automation 
  • 2021 – 50% of respondents saw an ROI from test automation 

Now that we’ve reached 50%, we’ve hit the tipping point.

If you plan your automation project well, you should more than make your money back and improve testing.

This highlights 2 factors I've been talking to my customers about for a long time:

  1. Automation can save you money while improving your quality processes
  2. You'll only see that saving if you commit to automation 

Test automation is powerful and cost effective, but you can't go into it half-cocked. To maximise your investment in automation, you need to do it right. 

First Though, How Can You Stop Test Automation Projects Failing

As we’ve mentioned, automation projects can deliver cost savings while improving software quality. However, poorly planned and executed automation projects can also fail on both fronts.

When automation goes wrong it will end up costing you money, with little to no impact on software quality. This can leave a negative image of automation.

Let’s face it, there are many who have tried automation and failed.

It is not surprising that a lot of people fall into the ‘once bitten, twice shy’ category. But done well, automation will work and is an essential tool, you just need to avoid the following pitfalls.

There are 3 things that often cause automation to fail. If you avoid these common mistakes, you’ll be well on your way to success:

  1. Automation is not a quick fix – it takes planning and preparation
  2. Record and replay only ever lasts a few executions – you need to build in error handling
  3. Automation is not once-and-done - You need to plan in maintenance

Test Automation: How to Get a Positive ROI in 3 Steps

It’s one thing having a successful automation project, it’s another having a cost-effective automation project. By that I mean, one that pays back. 

I’m a huge advocate of automation, I know the value it can bring – namely, increase quality and reduced time. Companies used to pay a premium for good automation, and it was worth it. These days though, successful automation must pay for itself.

The Caveat – Automation Requires Frequency of Execution

There’s one caveat to mention here though. Automation only pays for itself if you intend to run the scripts 5 or more times. If you only need to test something a handful of times, it’s virtually impossible to drive an ROI.

With that out the way, here’s how you can generate an ROI from test automation 

Step 1. Plan For An ROI Before You Start Automating

  1. Specify your overall test scope
    • Choose something realistic and achievable
    • You need to get to value quickly
    • This could be a pilot project
    • Prove and demonstrate value to the business
  2. Learn from a small implementation
    • You’ll inevitably make some mistakes – make small mistakes and learn from them
    • You don't want to boil the ocean
  3. Plan your automation scope 
    • Don’t try to automate all your scope
    • Aim for a maximum 80% automation coverage of your defined scope
  4. Build manual tests first
    • Get them signed off – make sure they cover the right processes in the right way
    • These will form the basis for your automation scripts

Step 2. Keep ROI in Mind During Automation

  1. Use professional-grade test tools
    • The cost is trivial when compared to the effort and time investment.
    • Cheap tools will increase your effort 
    • Increased effort is the ROI killer
    • You'll be less reliant on tool experts
  2. Build modular scripts
    • The test build is more efficient with reusable parts
    • This will greatly reduce maintenance effort
    • Be clear on start/end states for your modules
    • Standardise as much as possible to allow different combinations
  3. Build automation tests on a priority basis
    • That way, your automated pack will become useful almost immediately
  4. Use AI wherever possible
    • AI reduces build time & future maintenance
    • Run the same test on different platforms and versions

Step 3. Ensure you Continue Delivering ROI After Automation

  1. Keep your pack up to date
    • Retire old tests
    • Add new tests
  2. Maintain your test pack
    • Check and update your pack regularly – with every patch, update or release
    • Use AI as much as possible to keep your scripts running

Calleo Can Help You Save Money with Test Automation

Calleo is the UK&I’s leading Micro Focus test tool provider. We provide class-leading test automation tools to a wide range of enterprises.

If you are planning to automate, tool selection makes all the difference. Always choose a tool built with easy maintenance in mind. UFT One is a perfect example.

Not only do we offer automation tools, but we also provide the training and education you need to maximise your tool investment.

As your Micro Focus partner, we’ll make sure you get the best products and the right license deals. 

Stephen Davis
by Stephen Davis

Stephen Davis is the founder of Calleo Software, a Micro Focus (formerly HPE Software) Gold Partner. His passion is to help test professionals improve the efficiency and effectiveness of software testing.

To view Stephen's LinkedIn profile and connect 

Stephen Davis LinkedIn profile

27th January 2022

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