How pre-conditioning can be a block to effective automation results

On a recent training engagement with one of our customers, as is often the case, there were a selection of people with different abilities and experience who wanted to learn automation. On this specific course several of the people were automation engineers with lots of experience of coding a solution and the rest were business people with no automation knowledge.

My thoughts were that it would be easy to train the engineers but I would have to put more effort in to the business people and initially this was the case. All the different techniques needed were quickly learned and used by the first group but it took longer, and required more effort, to show to the second group.

However other differences began to appear after the initially training course was complete. We moved on to applying the knowledge to real world scenarios on their specific applications. While the engineer group were quite theoretical and applied the automation to small areas of the products that they thought would have issues, the business users just got in with the job of automating things that would make their life easier as quickly as possible. By the end of the week the business users had enough automation that they estimated would save them 8 days testing per release and it was ready to go straight away. The more technical users hadn’t actually created anything that would be useful to them at that moment.

Now I’m not saying that the automation engineers wont build something useful in the future, but the attitude of the business users, which was about just using automation to get a specific job done, clearly left them with an advantage. Without the need to over analyze or design they were able to build effective and useful automation quickly which would in turn give them time to build more complex models if they needed it in the future.
Jonathan Pearson
Pre-Sales Consulting Manager