If your answer is simply to automate them, you’re stuck in the 2010s. Today, automation is widespread, and automating processes in a basic sense is no longer enough on its own to maximize efficiency and velocity.
Instead, teams who want to excel – who want to become 10xers, so to speak – need to look beyond automation in its simplest form. They must take automation to the next level in a way that makes processes not just a little faster, but a magnitude faster.
Allow me to explain by discussing how software testers can put this principle into practice.
The limitations of basic test automation
When I talk about “automation in its simplest form,” I’m referring to automations that help to execute core processes.
In the context of software testing, basic automation means using frameworks like Selenium or Appium, which provide a way for engineers to execute tests automatically. That saves a lot of time and effort compared to executing each test manually.
To be sure, there’s nothing wrong with simple automation. But the fact is that by now, most teams have caught on to the value that test automation provides. Automatically executing most of your tests no longer makes you much faster than average. It might have been a big deal a decade ago, back when test automation was less widespread, but it’s hardly enough to make you a 10xer today.
Going beyond simple automated testing
What does set you apart? What can testers do to supercharge their efficiency and velocity?
The answer, again, is to take automation to the next level. Rather than simply using test automation frameworks to execute tests, they can also use automated tools to generate the tests in the first place.
For example, modern automated testing solutions can automatically create test scripts based on actions that testers perform manually, making it possible to generate tests without having to write any code. That means you can create many more tests in much less time.
As another example, next-generation automations can supercharge the interpretation of test results. If engineers want to know, for instance, when a screen finishes rendering in an application or when a crash occurred, they don’t have to parse test results manually, or write custom scripts, to find that information. They can leverage modern automation tools that collect that data on their own.
In a similar vein, modern test automation tools can accelerate the process for troubleshooting tests that fail to run. For example, imagine that an automated test fails because it is supposed to test an element that developers relabeled in the newest version of an application. Traditionally, fixing that issue would have required engineers to review the test, sort through application code and then update the test with the new element ID. But this process could instead be automated using tools that can identify the application elements that a test should assess and update test scripts with the appropriate element IDs, all without requiring manual intervention.
A Copilot-inspired approach to software testing
You could draw analogies between the types of opportunities that modern test automation software makes available to testers and those that AI-powered tools like GitHub Copilot have opened up for software developers.
If you’re a software developer today, you don’t have to settle for basic automation tools, like Continuous Integration servers (which automatically integrate code into larger codebases) or source code management platforms (which automatically track changes to code over time). You can also benefit from a new breed of automation tools, like Copilot, which can automatically generate code, unit tests and much more.
For developers, Copilot is a prime example of a next-generation tool that can dramatically accelerate software development. Developers who learn to use Copilot effectively can work potentially ten times faster than their counterparts.
The types of next-generation test automation solutions I’ve described above do the same thing for software testers. Instead of relying just on basic automation tools to run tests, modern testers have a host of additional, more powerful automations at their disposal to help create, manage, interpret and troubleshoot tests. Those who learn to use those tools will become the 10xers of today’s generation of software testers.