Debbie Disappointed Solution

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Debbie is not happy. She had had great hopes for the automation, and in fact things had started out really well. The testers were happy with the tool that they had selected, and had automated a lot of tests for the previous release. They were able to run tests that used to take 2 days in half a day. Debbie had calculated that their investment in the tool (and the learning curve to use it) had given them a positive Return on Investment, so she was happy with the automation project. She was even beginning to think about which testers she could let go from the team.

But now that the new release needs to be tested - and quickly - the testers are complaining that they have to update so many of the existing scripts that they hardly have any time to automate new tests or indeed to do any manual testing. Debbie can see that more and more time is being spent on the automation without getting an increasing ROI, and this is frustrating. She really had thought that the ROI, now that the automation had proved itself in the first release, would be increasing more and more, and now it looks like she can’t gain any savings by reducing the test team.


1) Go to Test Automation Issues Mind Map or Test Automation Issues. Look through the Issue names and see if one stands out as Debbie's main problem.

2) Go to Test Automation Patterns Mind Map or Test Automation Patterns. Look through the Pattern names and see which stand out as possible solutions for Debbie.

3) Go to the Diagnostic. Answer the questions on Debbie's behalf and see if you find the same issues and patterns.

Using the Diagnostic, the following path is one possibility:

  • “improve or revive your test automation” is the best starting point.
  • This leads to two possible choices. The first is “Management expectations for automation not met”. Since Debbie is concerned with ROI, this leads us to HIGH ROI EXPECTATIONS (Management Issue).
  • The second possible choice is “Maintenance expectations not met”.
  • On that page, the first option, “Maintenance costs too high” seems the best choice.
  • On the next page, the first option seems most applicable, “Updating the automation scripts”, as this is the highest expense.
  • This leads to BRITTLE SCRIPTS (Design Issue).

The one pattern that both of these issues have in common is:

  • MAINTAINABLE TESTWARE (Design Pattern) It seems that the reason Debbie’s hoped-for ROI has not continued, is that maintenance of the testware wasn’t planned, or not planned well enough.

Other patterns recommended by HIGH ROI EXPECTATIONS include:

Other patterns recommended by BRITTLE SCRIPTS include:

In this example, there are many patterns that could be used. The best one to start with depends on the situation, but any of these would help to address the problem. There is often not a single best solution, but the patterns give you a selection of useful patterns to choose from.

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