Back in the production era of business, process automation meant robotics. But in today’s relationship and internet era, process automation has evolved from an emerging technology into the work of determining how best to serve your customers. In its current state as both a programming powerhouse and a model of work efficiency, business process automation (BPA) allows today’s professionals to spend their time developing key relationships and differentiating themselves in the marketplace.
3. Finally, your devices will need some way to receive your instructions. For some, this isn’t an issue: today’s home entertainment systems often have Wi-Fi connectivity built right in before the components leave the factory. But for others—like, say, lights—you’ll need either smart outlets or smart lightbulbs to integrate them into your home’s automation system.
Automation can standardize your company response to customer issues. Once the customer contacts your company with an issue, a process immediately kicks off and prioritizes the support request based on defined criteria, such as the customer value and the nature of the problem. The software assigns support personnel and categorizes the type of issue. Between the predefined criteria and assigning the employee, the system escalates the problem. Along the way, the app notifies the customer of each step, assuring them that the issue is being handled.
Solenoid valves are widely used on compressed air or hydraulic fluid for powering actuators on mechanical components. While motors are used to supply continuous rotary motion, actuators are typically a better choice for intermittently creating a limited range of movement for a mechanical component, such as moving various mechanical arms, opening or closing valves, raising heavy press rolls, applying pressure to presses.
Even simple notifications can be used to perform many important tasks. You can program your system to send you a text message or email whenever your security system registers a potential problem, from severe weather alerts to motion detector warnings to fire alarms. You can also get notified for more mundane events, such as programming your “smart” front door lock to let you know when your child returns home from school.
During a recent consulting assignment, a tester told me he spent 90 percent of his time setting up test conditions. The application allowed colleges and other large organizations to configure their workflow for payment processing. One school might set up self-service kiosks, while another might have a cash window where the teller could only authorize up to a certain dollar amount. Still others might require a manager to cancel or approve a transaction over a certain dollar amount. Some schools took certain credit cards, while others accepted cash only. To reproduce any of these conditions, the tester had to log in, create a workflow manually, and establish a set of users with the right permissions before finally doing the testing. When we talked about automation approaches, our initial conversation was about tools to drive the user interface. For example, a batch script like this:
The logic performed by telephone switching relays was the inspiration for the digital computer. The first commercially successful glass bottle blowing machine was an automatic model introduced in 1905. The machine, operated by a two-man crew working 12-hour shifts, could produce 17,280 bottles in 24 hours, compared to 2,880 bottles made by a crew of six men and boys working in a shop for a day. The cost of making bottles by machine was 10 to 12 cents per gross compared to $1.80 per gross by the manual glassblowers and helpers.
Summary: A SaaS-based tool that allows for management of both standalone and integrated environments throughout pre-production. Plutora TEMS includes an environment availability and allocation engine, a unified dashboard for environment-related information, governance processes to identify and fix changes in test environments and integrations with several leading tools. In addition to environment scheduling and configuration, it also provides cost forecasting.
States refer to the various conditions that can occur in a use or sequence scenario of the system. An example is an elevator, which uses logic based on the system state to perform certain actions in response to its state and operator input. For example, if the operator presses the floor n button, the system will respond depending on whether the elevator is stopped or moving, going up or down, or if the door is open or closed, and other conditions.
“There are millions of regression tests for a Windows 10 release. For example, if you plan 10 new features, five [of those 10] are critical and a priority. These test cases will be the criteria used to release the software. You build from that progress. So on the next release, you have new features, 10 are determined critical for testing. So it keeps adding, now you have 15 regression tests being automated to keep up with the release schedules.”
The origins of test automation start with the computing industry. The book, Automated Software Testing: introduction, management, and performance, notes that the history of automated software tests followed the evolution of software development. Software testing in the era of large database systems that supported scientific and government programs meant that a finite amount of test procedures could test a complete system at the end of the development cycle. With the rise of personal computing, the methods for testing software changed to keep up with increased demand for new software applications and new product features.
Jim Hazen is an Automation Consultant and “veteran of the software testing trenches” who helps companies with test automation and performance test implementations. He has presented at multiple professional conferences, including STARWest and STPCon, and published articles in ST&QA Magazine on test automation and communication techniques for testers. You can learn more about Jim on LinkedIn.
The method or process being used to implement automation is called a test automation framework. Several frameworks have been implemented over the years by commercial vendors and testing organizations. Automating tests with commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) or open source software can be complicated, however, because they almost always require customization. In many organizations, automation is only implemented when it has been determined that the manual testing program is not meeting expectations and it is not possible to bring in more human testers.
With automation, processes can perform in ways that optimize the amount of human support needed. This shift—moving the burden of processes from humans to technology—has the potential to redesign the way work gets done within an enterprise. Simple automation of processes can eliminate errors, reduce biases and perform transactional work in a fraction of the time it takes humans. And with the application of artificial intelligence, these point robotic process fixes have now evolved into intelligent interactions and processes.