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As the software industry mature, delivery and operations team come closer for quick and seamless delivery. With the growth and strong practice of Agile based delivery which are followed throughout the software industry the need for reduction in testing life cycle without compromising the quality and coverage is necessary and thereby a lot of tightly integrated tools evolved in the past decade and skills needed for Automation testing also changed rapidly with the growing needs. This blog is going to describe the basic skills needed for Automation Testing irrespective of timeline.
Software Testing tools evolved with the introduction of Record and Playback feature which mimics the user actions on the Applications under test. During initial days tools do not have additional features except with Application object management control. Software tester does not need programming expertise to utilize this tool.
Later tools evolved with the power of scripting language support where the Software tester would need scripting language knowledge and to understand the tool features like exception handling, regular expression along with basic framework creation capability.
2005 – 2010, many tools were introduced in the Market like Selenium which was backed by Programming language with OOPS conceptual support. Many Open source tools also come into play which needed programming language understanding along with complex framework creation. This needed a Software tester to have some development skills so that robust Automation scripts can be created.
There was a paradigm shift with the introduction and implementation of Agile adopted widely in the Software industry which necessitated the change of direction from testing to Business process validation and involvement of Business Analyst, Developers and Ops team to contribute to testing and TDD / BDD / ATDD evolved with continuous testing capability. These capabilities can be achieved only when Software Tester has a strong craving for programming. Roles like SDET came into play and DevOps as well evolved post-2010.
There was a need to do a release every fortnight and software testing timeline is shortened without compromising quality with increased testing coverage. This need necessitated the introduction of the scriptless tool in the market. Not only Record and Playback feature like the olden days, but also these tools come with DevOps capability with plug and play feature. This helped in increased automation productivity.
Future is going to be tools with AI and ML capability . This means a tester should have more Analytical skills, Mathematical knowledge along with the coding skills. With the industry evolved from normal web development to IoT, Mobile, Clouds, BigData, etc, Automation tester should have the understanding of Architecture of IoT devices, Clouds, etc along with Microservices which is evolving recently which sits in the middle layer to communicate between various devices.
Below are the Top-notch technology trends in 2020:
- Hyper Automation (Automation tools with AI and ML capability)
- Multi experience (Usage of Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, multiple touchpoints, multi-channel touchpoint)
- Cloud Infrastructure
Analytical and Logical Reasoning:
This is one of the very basic requirements for any Automation Tester. This skill helps in breaking the problem into small packets and helps in coherently defining automation solutions. The more analytical and Logical reasoning skill an Automation Tester has the simpler and effective the solution he/she is going to give.
This helps in understanding the Business objective behind automation and helps in providing a solution to the team.
Whatever be the domain he/she is put up with, effective time should be spent in learning this domain. This helps in understanding the project in a better way and able to understand the scope.
Domain skills cover the following areas:
- what is the business process involved in that domain
- How the business outcome is measured in that domain
- Who are the consumers involved and their skillset requirement (Operational Users related to this domain and their domain skills will help in understanding the End User perspective of that project)
- What will be the future trend in that domain
Analysis should be done on External certification in that area and every Automation Tester should complete at-least basic external certification will help them in sustaining in that domain and be a better Automation Tester.
This skills helps in Automation Tester to play a crucial role in the team as nowadays with the reduction in team size, they will be the ever needed person for any project they work with.
With the understanding of Application architecture, Automation tester will play a crucial role in defining the right and long-lasting solution. Example ) The functional Testing team would have written Test cases for Web UI whereas underlying communication is done through Microservices which does the same functionality as UI. Automating Microservices is easy and stable and takes less effort as well. The understanding right solution to be targeted through Automation reduces the effort and helps Client as well in reaping the benefit of Automation.
This skill helps Automation Tester to enter as a Solution Architect.
This is one of the core skills required by any tester and is applicable for Automation Tester as well. Predominantly this helps in defining the data-driven approach and writing better re-usable to increase the coverage. It also helps in handling exceptions and reporting requirements in a better way. Every Automation Tester should work at-least in 1 Manual Testing project so that he can understand the Testing concepts and design principles in a better way which helps in Test effectiveness and efficiency. These skills help in writing better scripts with less maintenance effort.
Knowledge of DevOps:
In the era of Continuous Testing, this knowledge is a pre-requisite for any Automation Tester.
Below are the core areas which Automation Tester should have an understanding
How to source control works. (Extensive knowledge on GiT, SVN, TFS tools and working knowledge of Distributed and Centralized source control is mandatory)
Knowledge of Development paradigm (Automated code review, Build creation, Build deployment, Build Monitoring and Release Management) helps an Automation Tester to sync up easily with the developers and communicate in a better way.
Automation Framework should be stable and scalable to meet DevOps demand and hence building a robust Framework is a must
Handling data (Based on DevOps implementation there could be a limitation in tool infrastructure and knowledge on better data management like alternatives to Excel as XML or JSON skills are needed. A framework should have this capability
Test Management interface (Interfacing with Test Management for any Automation Framework is a must to have skills, knowing Test Management API calls can help in communicating with different modules of Test Management tools and helps in interfacing part)
Last but not the least, knowing Agile is a must. More than 80% of the project across the world uses Agile in their project and is now a must to know. Different techniques like Scrum, Lean, Kanban, XP, FDD are some of the popular Agile practices in the world. Every Methodology has different techniques of Estimation, gather requirements, defining scope, creating a backlog, etc. Awareness of these is a must.
So far we have talked about Technical and Functional skills and now is the time to discuss soft skills needed for any Automation Tester
Oral and Written Communication skill (Within a team, with Management and with Client stakeholders)
Should be flexible to take up more work and adaptable to situation
Team player (Able to gel well with the team)
Should be dependable and Trustworthy to sustain in the project
Managing self (Few areas like Time Management, Work-Life balance) is very critical