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Introducing Automation to Large Team

Oct 24th, 2011

A reader on my article at infoq asked an interesting question - introducing automation to a big project which has been worked on for some time. I plan to write more posts on this topic, have a lot of thoughts, but here’s my immediate answer -

A very strong actionable technique that I have seen work well is that you create a small/minimal smoke test suite for you larger app. You can decide on what comprises a suite of smoke test -

You can choose more ways according to your project, better still, mix and match. But make sure you choose the most important 5-10 and not 50-100 test cases for your smoke suite. Your smoke suite shouldn’t take much time to run aim for < 5 minutes. The correct way to work with these would be to make these smoke tests as part of your CI process so that the team get immediate benefits out of the smoke tests.

Your team will start seeing value in automating regression scenarios with this smoke suite in place. From then on, you can expand your suite from smoke upwards, adding more complex or more detailed scenarios. Another thing to note on big complex applications - aim for small tests, get quick wins. Then combine to make bigger ones. This will keep your team involved and constantly working towards covering every possible nook and keep being excited about it. But do make sure everything is part of CI, because if its not, then people lose faith.

Finally, as ever, keep showing value, make sure the stakeholders understand the importance, you can do this by sending them reports, and talk about gains etc. If your team buys in with the idea, there’s no stopping.