Marketing Your Automated Testing Team
It won’t matter how effective your WinRunner Team is if no-one outside your immediate organization knows about your accomplishments. For this reason, marketing your WinRunner Team is vital to your success. When times get tough, executives look for cost-cutting measures. The QA group is often the first on the chopping block. If these high level executives don’t fully understand and appreciate the value of your service, they will see the cost of WinRunner licenses and maintenance as well as the highly skilled, but also more expensive WinRunner engineers as a nice place to start trimming the budget. They will not have the time or luxury to launch an investigation to see if these services are really necessary.
The next thing you know, you have a nice library of WinRunner scripts, but no tools to execute them and no one with the skills necessary to modify the scripts as applications are updated. However, if these high level executives have personal knowledge about the benefits of software WinRunner in terms they understand, which are time and cost savings to the business they support, they will be less likely to put it on the chopping block.
High level executives don’t have the time or energy to seek you out and find out what benefits the automated testing has to offer to the organization. Instead, you must make the effort to seek them out. Marketing your WinRunner group is the responsibility of the entire team, but the heaviest burden lies upon upper-management and Vice Presidents because they have daily contact with peers at their level and higher.
Demonstrations for High Level Executives
One of the best ways to market your WinRunner team is to demonstrate to Executives, what you have done with WinRunner tool and how it helps their business. When you know an executive will be in town for a day, arrange for a thirty minute meeting. Executives are busy and everyone wants a piece of their time, so limit the time to thirty minutes. It will be sufficient to demonstrate what you have done with the product as well as how it benefits their business.
When you have confirmed that the executive will be able to attend a demonstration, it’s time to find a suitable conference room. Choose one that has live network connections and a screen to display the laptop image. Schedule the conference room for thirty to sixty minutes before the executive arrives in order to prepare. Use this time to set up the laptop, projector, and perform a dry-run of the script. Verify with the development engineering groups that no loads will be affecting the application you plan to demonstrate. Explain how important it is that nothing impact the environment, which will cause the application to go down during the presentation.
Invite as many members of the WinRunner team as possible so that the executive has the opportunity to meet everyone. However, if this is not possible due to the current work-load, invite only key individuals, preferably the ones who created or currently maintain the script that will be part of the presentation. They know most about it and will be able to troubleshoot any problems that arise more efficiently than someone who is not as familiar with the application or script.
Begin the meeting by making introductions and pass out an agenda so that everyone knows where the meeting is going and what will be covered. Give a brief overview of the application that will be demonstrated. The application should be one that the executive is familiar with and the script should run the length of the meeting (or longer). Ideally the application will have a lot of fields, making hand-typed data entry tedious. WinRunnerl will whiz through the application at an impressive speed.
While the script is running, explain how long it takes to manually run one test case verses how long it take WinRunner to execute one test case. Translate this into one test iteration so everyone can see how much time WinRunner saves on a weekly or monthly basis. Mention that the manual testers, who used to perform this testing, are now free to work on other projects, while this one is testing it’s self. At the end of the meeting, bring up the report to show how easy it is to identify which test cases passed and which, failed.
Executives are usually in back-to-back meetings, some of which run over their time limits. Less-important meetings, such as your presentation, may get rescheduled at the last minute. Don’t be discouraged. Simply reschedule the meeting for a later date. These presentations are not a waste of time. Executives who see the benefits of WinRunner and the cost savings will not only hesitate to cut your program out of the budget, but they will also inform their peers, who are struggling with long testing cycles, of your success. Ultimately, your success is their success.
Take Advantage of Status Reports
Status reports are one of the best ways to demonstrate to the business, on a weekly basis, how much time and money they are currently saving by automating the software testing. Status reports should contain the following figures:
Weekly hours saved per application
Year to date hours saved
Number of application automated
Number of scripts
Cumulative hours saved this week for all applications
Cumulative hours saved to date for all applications
Database or Spreadsheet of Project Statistics
Once the business and upper management gets wind of your WinRunner team’s abilities, be prepared for a windfall of questions. You will be asked over and over about the number of applications that have been scripted, time saved through automation, and a host of related questions. The best way to be prepared is to have a database or spreadsheet with your current project statistics on hand. Not only will you appear organized and efficient, but you will not have to drop your current activities to scramble for statistics. Your project database or spreadsheet should show general and application specific statistics.
Let Others Toot Your Horn
Executives who have had positive experiences with you in the past will spread the word when their peers complain about manual testing or show an interest in automating their software testing.
Beef Up Your QA Website
Most organizations have an internal website with sections dedicated to each group within the organization. If your QA organization doesn’t already have a website, it’s time to create one. A QA website can help you streamline activities such as a project queue that prioritized new projects, and conduct customer satisfaction survey’s, and announce your successes to the rest of the company.
Your QA website will do nothing for your PR unless other groups and organizations have to access it in order to interact with your team. You can begin forcing other groups to access your website by creating a project work queue, where they must complete a form in order to have their project entered into the QA work queue. This is your opportunity to lay down the rules rather than be forced to abide by their rules. There are specific facts that need to be clear before QA can prioritize and -assign resources to a new project.
Departmental home pages generally consist of the group mission statement and basic information. Once people have seen it a few times, they will skim right over it and with out a second thought. What a waste of space! Home Page real estate is the most valuable area of your website because it’s the one page that everyone sees. You best real estate should be reserved for facts that demonstrate your team’s success. It’s not that the team mission statement isn’t important, but rather that the mission statement belongs on another page or at the bottom of your home page, after the statistics. These statistics can be arranged in such a way that they display a running total of the cumulative time saved to date for each application and as a whole.
Town Hall Meetings
Take advantage of Executive Town Hall meetings, which are often used to update employees on the success of the business and visions Executives have for the future. They usually include many top level executives, who have connections in other business units who may be in need of automated testing. It’s not unusual for each Vice President to be asked to stand up and say a few words about their team’s current activities. This is a good opportunity to repeat some of your automated testing statistics or, in some cases, a quick presentation.
Don’t be afraid to contact executives, explaining your success with WinRunner and that you would like to share this with the organization during the Town Hall meeting. Executives rarely have the opportunity to see what is really happening in the “trenches” and will be pleased to hear about your success, especially when it is clearly a cost-cutting measure.