the reluctant tester

Perpetual learner of the craft of Software Testing,Servant Leadership and creating better Teams

Layered Testing Automation “skills” & what makes the onion whole ?

From the perspective of automating Testing in complex mission critical products , the skills that you need are layered, nuanced and complimentary like an onion.

Layer 1(The bulb) – Tooling layer

Learning and applying Programming & Tooling skills in Testing is hard

Layer 2 – Critical thinking & decision making layer

What is harder is analysing and determining what to automate vs not ?

Layer 3 – Monitoring,Self-Reflection & Communication layer

Hardest is measuring & communicating if your automation capability is adding business value ? Knowing your biases and the short comings of your automated capability ? (beyond just the claim that it does away with “manual ” testing)

Testers who have tested complex multi-tech, multi-vendor, highly integrated mission critical products, would relate with this classic read on the perils of the fallacy of 100 % automation in complex systems

This bit from the article asserts the significance of operating well at Layer 2 and 3…

“The paradox of automation, then, has three strands to it. First, automatic systems accommodate incompetence by being easy to operate and by automatically correcting mistakes. Because of this, an inexpert operator can function for a long time before his lack of skill becomes apparent – his incompetence is a hidden weakness that can persist almost indefinitely. Second, even if operators are expert, automatic systems erode their skills by removing the need for practice. Third, automatic systems tend to fail either in unusual situations or in ways that produce unusual situations, requiring a particularly skilful response. A more capable and reliable automatic system makes the situation worse.”

There are plenty of situations in which automation creates no such paradox. A customer service webpage may be able to handle routine complaints and requests, so that staff are spared repetitive work and may do a better job for customers with more complex questions. Not so with an aeroplane.

Just because you have hired a very competent person who operates well at Layer 1, does not mean they will necessarily deliver on the business benefits at Layer 2 and 3.

This is also perpetuated by some of our Industry hiring practices (of looking for pure tooling keywords to short list candidates) or sales pitches for tools that will makes the human job of Testing redundant .

To nurture a whole Testing Automation Practitioner, Engineering Leaders need to invest in hiring, coaching and training budding Testers to be competent in operating across all the layers of the onion

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

About Me

I’m Sunjeet Khokhar

An experienced People Leader,Practice Lead  and Test Manager .

I am driven by the success of people around me, am a keen student of organisational behaviour and firmly believe that we can be better craftspeople by being better humans first.

CoNNECT with Me

%d bloggers like this: