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Automated Testing Illusion

The Illusion of Full Test Automation: A Reality Check

The allure of full test automation can be compared to the grand illusion painted by the classic rock band Styx in their 1977 album. While automation has its merits, achieving a 100% automated testing process is often a mirage. This article delves into the common misconceptions and pitfalls associated with the quest for complete test automation.



Automation’s Grand Illusion:

Automation is frequently marketed as a grand illusion, promising to revolutionize your testing processes and save you time and money. While there is value in automation when applied judiciously, the dream of 100% automated testing is almost always just that – a dream.





The Fantasy of “Copy and Paste” Automation:

One of the most significant hurdles in automation is the “follow the leader” mentality. Many organizations look to big-name companies like Google, Microsoft, or Amazon and aim to replicate their “automate everything” strategies. However, this is often a fallacy. What works for these giants may not be feasible for smaller companies with different constraints and risk profiles.






Blind Ambition in Automation:

Similar to Styx’s lyrics about blind ambition, some organizations blindly embrace automation without considering the skills and expertise needed to wield powerful automation tools. Automation should empower those with the right skill set, not be wielded by those without context.





The Constant Temptation of New Tools:

Much like a “brand new motorcar,” there will always be new automation tools promising better, faster, and cheaper results. The temptation to adopt these tools can be strong. However, abandoning your existing automation tools and practices can incur substantial costs and challenges.






Opportunity Costs of Automation Change:

Changing your automation tool or framework can bring unforeseen opportunity costs. Learning a new tool and possibly re-implementing existing automation can delay other activities that may provide additional revenue or cost savings. The decision to switch tools should consider these hidden costs.





The Reality of Improvement:

Acknowledging that we can always improve is crucial. Yet, improvement should align with the organization’s specific context and objectives. What works for one organization may not work for another, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution.






Avoiding the Grand Illusion:

In a world where everyone seems to have it made, it’s easy to get caught up in the desire to imitate other organizations’ success. While inspiration from peers is valuable, blindly pursuing their panacea is not. To avoid falling for the grand illusion of 100% automated testing, we must make responsible decisions based on our own unique context and goals.


The quest for full test automation may sound enticing, but it often leads to an illusion that is challenging to attain. Rather than chasing the fantasy of 100% automation, organizations should focus on strategic, context-specific decisions that deliver real value. Automation, when applied judiciously, can indeed enhance testing processes, but only if we remain grounded in our unique contexts and objectives, avoiding the pitfalls of automation’s grand illusion.



Comment (1)

  1. Bryanrep
    January 15, 2024

    I’m not sure where you’re getting your information, but great topic.

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