Authors Dorothy Graham and Mark Fewster wrote the field's seminal text, Software Test Automation, which has guided many organizations toward success. Now, in Experiences of Test Automation, they reveal test automation at work in a wide spectrum of organizations and projects, from complex government systems to medical devices, SAP business process development to Android mobile apps and cloud migrations.
Have you ever paid attention to how often the apps on your phone update? Sure some update to eliminate bugs, but some update more and more frequently to introduce new products, new designs, and new innovations that make the app experience better. Why? Because the creatives in that company were able to take time to listen to customer feedback and design new products that solved pain points. With automation taking more of the grunt work, I bet we will see more of this in the future.
Like BPA, RPA can reduce human error and the cost of employing a large staff. Bots do not require custom software, and they are fairly low cost and simple to integrate. According to McKinsey & Company, the return on investment for RPA varies between 30-200 percent in the first year, mainly in labor savings. One company in banking was able to add 85 bots with the capacity of 200 staff members, cutting its recruiting cost by 30 percent.
An example of a good use of BPA is in customer success activities. Automation ensures that your team members can spend their time on the high-touch work needed to retain your customers (such as onboarding) instead of data entry. Data entry is rife for errors and mishaps, and it relies on the team to communicate the customer information to each other.
McKinsey & Company estimates that about half of all business processes — including yours — can be automated. Automation could save your business a lot of money, but you may be wondering what processes to start with and what is even possible. First and foremost, review the strategic and operating drivers for improvement. Then look for the processes. Rote and repetitive tasks are one obvious place to start.
Additionally, many RPA implementations fail because they are not well thought through or executed in concert with the company’s strategic direction. Further, soundly implementing bots is critical, and changes during the process, even those required by compliance needs, can throw them off. They do not always have the necessary flexibility configured when platforms change. This has caused some companies to either refuse to install bots or to put their installation on hold, according to a McKinsey & Company report. A Deloitte UK study indicated that only 3 percent of progressive leaders have been able to reach an RPA scale of 50 or more bots.
Another problem that pops up in RPA is the failure to plan for certain roadblocks, Srivastava says. An employee at a Genpact client changed the company’s password policy but no one programmed the bots to adjust, resulting in lost data. CIOs must constantly check for chokepoints where their RPA solution can bog down, or at least, install a monitoring and alert system to watch for hiccups impacting performance. "You can't just set them free and let them run around; you need command and control," Srivastava says.
In this case, you could check the screens to see if they still created a user with the right setup, but once that's done, there's no need to recheck that create use works over and over. Instead, consider creating actual command-line parameters to speed up testing. In the example at the client, a simple command-line tool could have flipped the ratio from one hour a day of testing and seven hours of setup to seven hours of testing and one hour of setup.
BPAs can be implemented in a number of business areas including marketing, sales and workflow. Toolsets vary in sophistication, but there is an increasing trend towards the use of artificial intelligence technologies that can understand natural language and unstructured data sets, interact with human beings, and adapt to new types of problems without human-guided training. BPA providers tend to focus on different industry sectors but their underlying approach tends to be similar in that they will attempt to provide the shortest route to automation by exploiting the user interface layer rather than going deeply into the application code or databases sitting behind them. They also simplify their own interface to the extent that these tools can be used directly by non-technically qualified staff. The main advantage of these toolsets is therefore their speed of deployment, the drawback is that it brings yet another IT supplier to the organization.