Sunday, January 27, 2013

What work is left is harder!

I am reading Slack by Tom DeMarco.  There is a chapter where he is talking about process obsession.  I have always been against process for the sake of process.  At one of my previous jobs it took at least 8 hours a day just to get through the CCMI daily bull shit.  My point is not to rant about how inefficient institutionalized process is, but to share a quote from the book.  I found this statement interesting.

"When the new automation is in place, there is less total work to be done by the human worker, but work is left is harder."

As an experienced tester I believe test automation is important.  I promote automation so that we have more time for cognitive testing.  I cherish the time available to execute well designed test sessions.  What never occurred to me is that the cognitive testing just might be harder than the automation.

From my experience automation is pretty darn hard.  Once I completed automation I did feel a great sense of satisfaction, but I never pondered that I had freed up some of my time to do stuff that was harder.  I viewed automation as giving me freedom.  I now had the freedom not to do scripted testing, but the confidence to explore.

The phrase "less total work" is also interesting and from my point of view somewhat misleading.  In theory the more software automation you have the more time you have to innovate new concepts and ideas, so in essence the scope of work increases.  With more automation I believe that maintenance increases.  Automation frameworks are constantly advising as a technology.  At some point the team must refactor to stay current.

I am looking forward to the day when automation equals less work!  For some reason I think I am going to be waiting a very long time.  Does software automation truly give us slack?

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