Recently I read the blog of Rik Marselis where he talked about that working on test automation is different from testing. I would take this a step further and state that it's not only different at the tangible level, it's a fundamentally different process in your brain. And you should be aware of that.
When you perform exploratory testing you are (hopefully) thinking about coverage and risk. A good exploratory testing session, in my experience, will trigger your creativity. This creativity enables you to test parts of the system that you didn't think of beforehand. Thus, you will add extra coverage. This process goes on and on, until your time is up (or the acceptance criteria you test are met well enough). Due this creative process you have tested things you initially did not think of. Hence the power of exploratory testing (and why testing can't be automated).
Automation, on the other hand, focusses on the automation of (existing) test scenario's and test cases. It is aimed to cover the same requirements you tested in your exploratory session, but faster, more often and via a stable process (and much more other reasons, but that's not the point). However, when you automate one scenario after another, you use the cognitive functions of your brain for a different purpose. You use it to find smart and efficient solutions to automate the tests via several assertions (automated checks). This requires not only a different skillset compared to testing, it requires a different point of view. You need to find out how to execute the test in the framework you are using. And you need to make sure that the automation code is easy to read and maintain. This has nothing to do with the quality of the application under test. Thus, you are less focused on coverage and risks when working on automation.
So, when you're testing and automating in your daily job, make sure that you do not get carried away on the automation part (don't get me wrong, it's great way to spend your time!). To much attention for automation will put your quality-focused-approach on the background. This is not always a bad thing, but it's import to be aware of this. This is also a great moment for your colleagues to step up and help on the automation part.
Thus, make sure you don't lose yourself in automation and keep focusing on the quality for the system under test.
Published: 19 February 2021
Author: Boyd Kronenberg