5 Tips For Building the Dream Test Automation Team
In 2021, more and more businesses are moving away from manual testing in favor of automated processes.
17:34 19 April 2022
In 2021, more and more businesses are moving away from manual testing in favor of automated processes. This automation can save time and money that they can invest elsewhere and put to better use.
It’s no surprise, then, that you’re interested in building a test automation team for your business. Test automation involves using programs to test a product or service that would otherwise be assessed by an employee.
Test automation might not be suitable for every test you run, but it is becoming more accessible to businesses of all sizes. Automation for small businesses, for example, can be relatively simple if you know what to look for in a team.
Building a team of industry professionals from the ground up can be a tricky process, however. Each team member will need to have a selection of general and highly technical skills required by their position. They may need to be more familiar with a piece of software than you or their team leader, which can make assessing their individual skills daunting.
But this doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. You can even train and cultivate an automated tester out of your regular manual tester. These five tips will help you to build a dream team that will make automating your software testing a worthwhile investment for your business.
1. Look for Transferable Skills
It may be an obvious opener, but transferable skills are often overlooked when recruiting for highly technical positions in favor of industry-specific ones. While these are also important, your team will function far better if it has certain key transferable skills.
Automating testing processes can be frustrating at times, particularly when things go wrong with a piece of hardware. You want to look for team members with the problem-solving abilities and creativity to work around issues.
Let’s consider a particular kind of RPA as an example. Process discovery automation maps out processes within your business with the need for only minimal manual intervention. It imagines how humans will interact with a system and which faults might arise within a process.
Developers working on this kind of automation need to be able to think and act proactively to spot and fix problems. Lateral thinkers will therefore make a fantastic addition to your team when working with tests that look for system faults.
As useful as lateral thinkers are to an automation team, make sure you’re also thinking laterally about what kind of skills your developers will need. Don’t overlook basic skills like decision making and organization - so-called ‘soft skills’ for developers.
2. Play to Individual Strengths
In other words, make sure to include a range of diverse talents in your team. Say, for example, you want to set up a hosted contact center to better deal with customer service inquiries. This is a more efficient and automated alternative to contact centers that use a lot of hardware.
You’ll need people in your team who are capable of handling the development of a wide range of features, from initial testing to scale-ups. It might be the person who tests the initial interactive voice response system has an eye for detail and technical protocols, while the individual in charge of automating tests for scale-ups has a ‘bigger picture’ approach. You’ll want some of these skills to overlap, but make sure you consider each team member's personal and professional strengths as well as their technical skills.
Contact center workforce management is one of many areas that will benefit from a tight-knit team of test automators. Some fields of testing are more technical than others, so consider your business’ individual needs before putting your team together.
Of course, you don’t want to overlook technical skills. Consider devising a test scenario specific to your industry to see how well new team members handle any issues that arise. This is especially relevant if your automation team is large and will be working across multiple softwares or programs.
3. Be Persistent
Perhaps the most difficult part of putting a team together is when things don’t go your way. You might find yourself looking for advice on running a developer team. The most important advice for putting together your team is to keep pushing.
The right talent is worth waiting for, particularly when it comes to highly technical and cutting-edge processes. Make sure you’re fully aware of your team members’ skills and are using them to maximum effect. You might do this by running sample tests on existing software that’s previously been tested to see where individual strengths lay.
As well as being persistent, be patient. Automating testing of a product or service is a long process that takes a lot of skill and knowledge. Take it one step at a time and listen to your team when they discuss their areas of expertise.
But why wait for the right talent to come along? Because automation can have huge, real-world benefits for businesses, particularly customer-facing ones. You can use it to improve relationships, increasing brand loyalty. You can also spot problems with a service earlier and repair it faster, which might just save you a lot of lost customers.
4. Invest in Training
Ideally, your team will already have a lot of the skills needed for their role. That being said, it’s always a good idea to make sure everyone is up to date with their knowledge. Training as a group is not only a good way to help your team get to know each other but makes them more confident in each other’s skills.
Imagine you’re testing an order to cash system. This will allow you to automate your sales process, from order to receiving payment from the customer. This will also boost your eCommerce conversion rate if you're running an online store.
A common problem that arises with this system is automation failing at points of contact direct to customer (D2C) is when entering payment information. A team with sufficient training will find multiple ways around this problem and be able to debate the best solution, considering cost, labor hours, and time without the system. A team with a thorough understanding of automated testing in your specific industry will know how to work around industry-specific problems too.
Look at it another way. Unattended vs attended RPA is something a lot of businesses debate when looking to increase testing automation. Unattended removes human intervention from the equation altogether, whereas attended might be used when the whole process can’t be automated but some parts can. Attended RPA is very useful to a lot of businesses, so it’s something to consider when providing extra training for your team.
By giving your employees an understanding of the different types of automation they may be faced with, you can reduce delays and costs further down the line. You also provide them with confidence in their abilities and those of others in the team.
As fun as it is, we don’t mean paintballing. Spend some time figuring out the dynamic within your team. Consider what type of business you run and the general tone of the office. Does your team need anything they aren’t currently getting in terms of support?
As an example, one of the key skills call tracking software testers need is strong communication. This is crucial to building a well-functioning team that’s able to achieve your automation goals. If members cannot communicate or fail to work together to deliver projects, problems with workflow and morale will result.
Team tasks managementis a solution to many of these problems. By splitting a large project into small, actionable tasks for individuals or small groups, you can help your team to better cope with the pressure.
As part of this, make sure there is a clear chain of command and assistance. Who do your team members go to for work assignments? How are they given? Who should they ask for help with a task? By making everyone aware of this hierarchy from the beginning, you optimize workflow and encourage cooperation.
Automating software testing and other areas of the business is a highly creative task, and creativity works best when ideas are shared. This will only happen when your team feels they can work productively together. This means that creating a strong and cohesive team is imperative, and the onus of doing so lies with you.
Now you know what to look out for when building your test automation team, you might want to have a look into what not to do. Understanding what can cause problems in developer communities is a great way to identify what may not work for your team and why.
Once you’ve put your dream team together, it’s time to take the first steps toward implementing or expanding test automation within your business. Make sure everyone in your team understands their role and why the work they’re doing is important.
By automating software testing and other areas of the business, you can save on costs and labor. You can also make the customer experience - whoever your customers are - smoother and more efficient.
This is the key to successful automation. Your team needs to know the why, as well as the how and the what. Teach them that lesson early on, and they’ll be able to work alongside you to achieve your goals.
Patty is the EMEA Product Marketing Manager for RingCentral Office, the leader in audio conference solutions. Patty is passionate about creating value and differentiation, ensuring a better experience for customers and partners. She gained a wealth of international product marketing, product management, GTM and market development experience, across a range of high-tech SaaS in a fast-paced, hyper-growth environment that assumes both strategic and tactical execution. She is not new to UC, starting in Tandberg, then Cisco, driving the launch of video collaboration and services, and Enghouse with global responsibilities for hosted CCaaS.