Say NO to Test Automation

bszulcYet another software tester’s event. Another conference. Another presentation. Another tool, library or framework, that will solve all your problems.

Another presentation about test automation. I sometimes wonder if our role boils down to being just a special kind of software developer, developer who cares about test code. Does job market see us this way? Do we value ourselves based on how well we can code? Is testing just about automation? Finally, does automation helps deliver high quality products?
Personally, I’m not convinced. I’m not convinced spending my time on automation helps my team and the product we build together. I doubt a single person can assure quality and care about test code.
Apparently, job offers prove me wrong. The market has spoken! I must automate. I must know as many languages as possible, more the better. I must know even more libraries and frameworks… and be called the way it suggest I’m responsible for quality.
Wait a minute… am I saying we should go back to the bad times? I hope not. I consider myself passionate about technology. I will go as far as saying I’m coding capable. I even enjoy coding… to some extend. It was normal for me to jump into automation right away. Man, I even had a presentation on Test Warez once, where I shared with other testers what I’d orchestrate automated tests of various types. But with time, as I got more experience, or maybe become lazier, time, or rather its absence, begin to be a problem. I wasn’t able to find time to codify new tests, learn new aspects of the product, learn customers and users expectations and feed that into development. New areas, new unknowns, new assumptions, new questions, new issues… and my time is not scaling and because of that, my role isn’t scaling either. Do you sometimes feel the same way?
It took me a while, not really, it took me ages, to understand I can’t do everything, and being interested in most of the stuff, isn’t really helpful. It wasn’t easy for me to say no to test automation. Put your time and effort into more productive and still challenging areas. Start working closely with people… and developers. Understand the needs, understand the risks, understand the value. Focus on communication, prevention, learning, teaching and coaching. Understand how to quantify quality, delegate and scale quality awareness.
Do you agree quality of code translates to quality of a product? Do you agree even greatest business idea can get destroyed without proper communication? What about understanding needs? Should we care about that? Should we validate our assumptions regarding what we think and feel about the way our product can impact world?
Interested in learning how your work can look like without test automation? Wanna see how you still consider yourself an Agile Tester not committing a single line of test code? Want to throw rotten tomatoes at me for spreading blasphemies? Come, and hear my story.
Lecture in English.

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