Automating the Process

By Kevin Bingham  |  Posted 2008-04-30 Email Print this article Print

Arizona Federal Credit Union uses test automation to deliver better applications without sacrificing cost, time or quality.

Automating the Process

The solution we eventually decided on was to automate the testing processes. With test automation, we could test more without adding resources, perform higher-quality testing, increase team visibility and communication, streamline operations and increase test productivity. And, unlike options that require greater investment in order to test more, test automation allows us to build tests without dedicating additional resources to build and maintain the tests.

Automated testing enables us to test more consistently, completely and reliably, which ultimately leads to a higher-quality outcome. Unlike manual testing, automated tests don’t make errors, and they can test various aspects of an application, such as differences in underlying properties, multiple data points on a single screen or even bitmap images that a manual tester might overlook. It’s easy to test a range of scenarios with a given test by simply varying the data and verifying the appropriate response.

By constructing automated tests together, IT and the business units ensure that both parties understand and agree on the end result. Changes or problems in the application that are identified by automated tests can be more readily communicated to the affected business units and the training team.

Also, instead of involving business users in the testing process multiple times, test automation allows us to involve them only in the initial test creation and, to a lesser extent, in the future update process.

Automation tools can be run 24/7, so we can test as much as possible in the time available. And these tools enable us to create a library of test assets that can be scheduled to execute at any time, without affecting the business.

This is very different from manual test scenarios in which resources are limited, often unavailable, and generally have to be scheduled and ramped up ahead of time in order to ensure that effective testing occurs in a timely manner. Hypothetically, automated testing offers the promise of being able to schedule and execute regression tests with limited lead times, particularly in scenarios in which changes exist primarily in the business logic and have limited impact on the user interface.

Once we settled on an approach, we started to evaluate strategies, including the prioritization of automation goals and obtaining buy-in from the affected business units. Arizona Federal used a functional prototype that demonstrated visually how we were going to meet our test automation goals.

Bingham is vice president of Information Technology for Arizona Federal Credit Union.

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