It may be a tale from our childhood but I can think of no better analogy for the current state of test management and test automation tools market: The Emperor’s New Clothes. Now for those of you who cannot recall the story let’s have a quick recap.
The Emperor by definition was a powerful chap and one who wanted acclamation and praise from his court. So when a couple of con-men pitched up at court promising His Highness the ultimate in designer fashion they found an eager audience in the main man. Now neither conman knew much about tailoring so instead they convinced the Emperor that a non-existent figment of their imagination they held in their arms, was in fact the finest suit ever made, un-equalled in all of the kingdom. The Emperor fell for their pitch hook, line and sinker. So convinced was he of its beauty that he paraded himself to his court. Sadly the court, being so used to only saying the things he wanted to hear, was emasculated and no-one had the gumption to speak up.
Things did change when the Emperor decided to parade himself through the city but by this time the con-men were long gone.
So what’s this got to do with testing?
Let’s consider what we want from our tools. What does the ultimate ready to wear, waterproof, uncrushable and debonair tool-set look like?
1. Every project starts with a plan and that plan will be the backbone of the project. But every project is different and a good tool can adapt to every approach utilized. Waterfall hasn’t gone away and for some companies it never will. However the converse is not true. Pretty much every company we know has embraced agile methodologies to a greater or lesser extent. And the agile world is fluid rather than static. Teams look to refine their agile approach based on their experiences and evolving industry best practice. So your application quality management platform needs to support multiple concurrent methodologies with the ability to consolidate common data. Now ask yourself if your current tool can do that. If you are starting to see the proliferation of multiple tools each with the same objective then you already know the answer.
2. Much of the testing will be manual. Much of the manual testing will be done by power users from the line of business who can ill afford the time you demand. Shouldn’t a tool set make manual testing fast, to minimize the impact on everyone involved and to capture the business knowledge to lessen the burden in future projects?
3. And when it comes to test automation, be brave, take a deep breath and very quietly repeat “faster, better, cheaper”. Go on, try it again. Now be really brave and ask yourself whether the automation tools you use are delivering on that mantra. Slow, costly, fragile and ill-suited to agile developments are phrases that may come to mind instead.
So there you go. If you look at what you need and you compare it with what you’ve got I think you’ll find you’re as naked as the day you were born.