The Impact of Automation on Testers in Agile projects | David Tzemach

Automation is a core foundation of almost any successful Agile project. It has a major impact on testers, as much of their testing efforts are now being automated in code at the lower levels (e.g. unit, component and integration tests) before they even have the chance to run a simple test.

Manual tests, commonly used in a traditional testing environment, are becoming less relevant in the Agile environment where there is simply less time for them in the rapid release cycles. Manual testing has become less popular, mostly because of its negative reputation as less effective, time-consuming and one of the biggest contributors to the increase of technical debt.

There is another major contributor to this mind-shift, and that is the advent of DevOps practices, which state that there is simply no room for manual intervention as everything should be automated to increase the effectiveness of the development process.

The new atmosphere of “Automate everything!” pushes testers to lose their identity and their influence. Testers that worked for years in manual test environments, now need to struggle to keep up with test automation practices just to stay relevant.

Each struggle has consequences, and in the case of testers, the consequences are mostly negative as they raise problems that testers have never seen before. For example:

  • Testers now work under more pressure than ever to meet the new standards that come with automation.

  • Testers now focus on automating stories and their acceptance criteria as-is, without investing in critical thinking that covers the same quality standards as before.

  • Testers without the necessary coding skills will invest more of their time on writing automated tests and making sure they pass, instead of actual testing based on the big picture.

Testers must evolve to keep their relevance, which is a good thing that I always promote in my teams. The problem occurs when testers start compromising their principals, causing them to become no different from any other developer.

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