No discussion about any sort of ROI can really be complete without considering the potential financial or organizational losses you might suffer if you don’t invest in new tech. “The cost of lost opportunity”, as it were.
To correctly evaluate the opportunity (i.e. investing in a streamlined process), you have to consider the downsides of the commonplace alternatives. Here’s a brief rundown of the possible lost opportunity costs of sticking with manual testing:
A slow-down of multiple company processes
The average speed of automated testing is about five times that of its manual counterpart. This impacts your delivery velocity, deadlines, team dynamics, stress, and employee burn-out.
That’s only half the issue though. Any in-house department influences other departments. The company is a living, breathing organism.
A slowdown in development or production can also grind other departments to a halt: sales, marketing, auditing, and others. It can place a strain on HR to manage employee happiness or to recruit new developers/testers that couldn’t handle the crunch.
As with anything that’s done in-house and by humans, there’s always a need for organizational management, adjustments, meetings, briefings, and employee one-on-ones.
If your managers don’t have to deal with that yet, it’s only a question of time. As soon as you scale up, you’ll have to get involved in managing the human side of your teams under the immense pressure of delivery velocity.
Manual testing increases this micromanagement strain since you’re offloading even more technological complexity onto living people that will require support to stay productive.
Lowering of delivery output due to regression tests
As Blake Norrish accurately points out in his blog on “the Regression Death Spiral,” testing isn’t only about verifying that one new feature. There’s also regression testing.
Consider what happens when you’ve been working for years on a software product. Dozens of engineers and developers leave, new ones arrive. It’s a multi-layered cake of code created by different people.
Each manual test is a laborious process of making sure the new feature doesn’t break any or ALL of the previous ones, created over the ENTIRE period of development.
Ignoring this idea can often lead to disastrous consequences (like a new patch that breaks the fundamental functions of the entire product).
What happens when your team has to do continuous regression testing of each new feature? That’s right — everything slows down painfully. Burn-out, stress, and missed deadlines ensue. Automated testing is the widely accepted solution to avoid both slowing down your testing AND avoid new features breaking old systems.
Overall, only the stakeholders within the company itself can determine whether you need to implement test automation at any given time. However, none of us can run from innovation forever and not ultimately fall behind.
Common mistakes in ROI calculation