Wednesday, April 8, 2020

The Hidden Costs of Automation

Summary: While automation can help you save time and money in your testing activities, there are a few hidden costs that many teams overlook. Aspects that don't have a price tag initially—such as what it will take to learn, adopt, and maintain a new automation tool—will end up costing you in the long run. Think through these considerations and answer some questions before jumping into your automation initiative.

Most of us understand the advantages of automation in testing: Automation helps you run the checks faster, multiple times, and for a long time.
However, while automation can help you save time and money, there are a few hidden costs that many miss.

Maintenance costs
Even if you can offset the tool costs by opting for open-source or free tools like SeleniumTestProject, there are maintenance costs to be aware of. Look for tools that are up to date with changes such as browser versions and advancements in technology.

Automation projects are like marathons and need to be able to work continuously for a long time. Most of the time, any technological change demands a lot of rework, and the tool must accommodate that. There is hardly any project where the automation team wrote the scripts and they were never required again. 

However, I remember a project where the Ruby version was not upgraded after 2.4, as the scripts and framework would need a lot of rework to be compatible with the latest version, 2.7. Everyone was comfortable with the decision, even though they had to sacrifice a lot of newer capabilities.

There have been projects where every line of code worked as expected and a simple change, be it a different browser version or a flow change, broke the script beyond repair. Lack of testability and flexibility can delay progress. Be aware of such costs.