Posted by IN / 6 responses

Allocating Automation Engineers Time

14 October 2016

Allocating Automation Engineers Time

Allocating automation engineers timeUpdate (10/17): I’ve clarified some of the terminology here in a new post.

People want to believe automation engineers are not software engineers. But, the same skills and environment that are needed for software engineering are needed for test automation. Automation Engineers need uninterrupted, consistent time to focus on their work and craft.

Let’s talk about allocating automation engineers’ time.

Often we decide to allocate a portion of a tester’s time to automation and a portion to manual testing. Can this be done? Sure. Should it be done in most cases? Absolutely not. Especially when the person doing the coding for automated testing is new to coding.

Coding takes long hours of uninterrupted focus. That’s true whether you’re a software engineer or an automation engineer. After 17 years of coding I still have times when I have to block off a day or more to focus. I’ll turn off my phone, email, and other notifications to avoid distraction and charge through a task. If after 17 years I still have to do it, what is it like for a person new to automated testing? A tester new to coding? They would need even more time and focus.

I’ll also say that the most valuable investment of time I made in learning to code was at the beginning. The time when I needed the least interruptions, the least context shifting was at the beginning. I was lucky, I got it. I worked very hard – many hours for years – and had great mentors and coaches (something I love doing for others now). I focused on learning everything I could about the craft of software engineering. That set me on a trajectory to being able to “code by nature” or whatever you want to call it.

Can automated testers be allocated less than 100% of the time to automated testing? Sure. Should they? Not in most cases. In fact, I haven’t worked with a client yet where their people were successful automating testing when they split time with other activities. The clients who benefit most are the ones that allow automation engineers to focus on automated testing.

 

About the Author

Paul Merrill

Paul Merrill is Principle Software Engineer in Test and Founder of Beaufort Fairmont Automated Testing Services. Paul works with clients every day to accelerate testing, reduce risk, and to increase the efficacy of testing processes. You’re Agile, but is your Testing Agile? An entrepreneur, tester, and software engineer, Paul has a unique perspective on launching and maintaining quality products. He also hosts Reflection as a Service, a podcast about software development and entrepreneurship. Follow Paul on Twitter @dpaulmerrill.

6 responses to Allocating Automation Engineers Time

  • James Willett says on October 15, 2016 at 10:14 am

    Great post – this is an issue for me in my agile team . As well as manual testing and automation , the QA has other tasks to pick up like reporting , planning and strategising . We are also tasked with various quality improvements through the wider organisation , along with our own agile team. It can be challenging to juggle so many of these tasks !

    Reply
    • Paul Merrill says on October 15, 2016 at 11:36 am

      James, I completely agree. What I’ve found as a software engineer focusing on testing, as a manager, as a business owner, etc, is that there will ALWAYS be more to do! It is the companies that commit to and prioritize automation in testing that see the benefit. There will be administrative tasks no matter what, but having people focus their time, energy and attention on automation is a major key to success.

      Reply
  • Tatiana says on January 14, 2017 at 3:25 am

    That is exactly what I was thinking!! Glad to hear those words from someone who are way more experienced than I am.

    Reply

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