Test Automation, a term everyone in testing probably hears on a regular basis, but what is it? If we listen to consultancies and tool vendors, it’s the holy grail. If we listen to some gurus in the testing space it’s the current and future of testing. Others are more conservative. However, when I commonly hear people say Test Automation, they usually mean Automated Testing, to be frank, they’ve become synonyms. This confuses me. As a skilled tester, I use automation and tools all the time, some I create, some I download, but automated tests they are not.

I’ve built automation to help my team create data, I’ve built low tech dashboards and I’ve built tools to install my mobile app under test on as many devices as I could connect to my computer. I’ve written tiny little scripts they saved me hours on a weekly basis. All these tools provided a lot of value. I’m also built numerous architectures to do automated checking, which just like my tools provided a lot of value. My focus on all these occasions was my testing mission.

So, what is Test Automation? How can we succeed with it? What skills do we need to succeed with it? Questions I’ve been pondering for the last four years, and I think I finally have some answers. Not just answers though, I also have lots of actionable advice for you to take back to work. This advice will be woven between real examples like those listed above, exploring why I created them, the skills needed and how they helped me with my testing mission.