Friday, April 8, 2011

Is Automated Testing Waste?

I wrote this several years ago, and I have mixed feelings about it now.  Wanted to hold onto it since I'm killing my other blog.  I think there is a blurry line between knowledge management and unnecessary with automated testing.  I've mostly settled on keeping the knowledge around is the value-add part, the rest of it is all a mechanism for trying to accompish that, that if you could reduce to 0, without impacting the knowledge part, then you should.  After the value stream mapping process with our software project and discussing ways to do less automation work, I was struggling with how this made sense.

---- Feb 28, 2008

When you are designing something, the knowledge you build from the discoveries along the way and the mistakes you make are important inputs into designing the code that solves a users problem. If you have to relearn this stuff, its waste. Maintaining knowledge is a crucial part of lean design. When we automate a test, we codify various things that we learn and preserve that knowledge as part of the system.

Once we learn something about what the software needs to do to work, or what it shouldn’t do, or what we are intending it to do… we can build protectors into the software, that whenever one of these important things we've learned, is violated, the system tell us and we can prevent it from harming the software. And when we are working on changing that software, we have examples that tell us the intent of the software, so that we don’t have to figure all of this out again and again.

QA resources have a unique and valuable skillset that is critical to building knowledge about a system. If we can use these knowledge building abilities to prevent bugs rather than detect them, we can accelerate our ability to solve customer problems, which adds value.

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