Are you a manager looking for test automators? Or, are you a tester or a developer who would like to try it out with test automation? By studying cat behaviour you can fairly well describe what a really good test automator should or should not do!
1. Cats are ‘lazy’. This does not mean that they don’t do anything, it means that what they do is really efficient: if you want to catch a bird (it can fly, you, the cat, cannot!) you only have one try, just jumping around won’t help.
With test automation it’s similar: you don’t want to repeat the same actions again and again. A good automator is also ‘lazy’: he or she will immediately notice when something can be done more efficiently. He or she knows that good automation doesn’t mean only automating regression tests, but automating all those boring or slow chores that come up also in manual or exploratory testing.
2. Cats are persevering and patient. They can wait hours without moving until the time comes to strike successfully.
In test automation things usually don’t immediately work out as you had hoped. If you don’t have the patience to try again and again, you will not be able to find the optimal solution to any problem
3. Cats know when it’s time to stop. When they realize that getting that mouse, or, for big cats, that antelope, is hopeless, they go looking for other prey and never look back.
In test automation it’s just as important to accept that some test cases are better not automated: a good test automator will not automate a test case if it takes two days to automate, but it takes only half an hour to execute manually and that only once a year!
4. Cats don’t just follow orders; they decide from time to time what they want to do. Ever seen a cat at a door? They linger in the middle of the door and don’t care if you want them inside or outside!
Similarly a good test automator will not just automate manual test cases as is, but look for a way to automate them using all the advantages offered by automation.
He or she will not just follow the methodology suggested by the tool, but will search for the solutions that are best for the current tests and applications.
5. Cats are cunning, when planning an ambush they take care to be off wind and to stay undercover
Good test automators take time to consider how to build maintainable test automation instead of just running off. Also he or she will share information with testers and developers in order to understand how to automate most efficiently
6. Cats explore their surroundings. The very first action of a new cat is to familiarize itself with every corner of his new home.
Similarly a good automator attacks a new problem by getting as much information as possible on the tool, current automation strategies (or patterns), the application and the knowledge-keepers
7. Cats, especially big cats (lions), work as a team in order to hunt more efficiently.
Similarly a good test automator works best in a team consisting also of developers and testers as in the agile approach.
8. Cats ask for help when they cannot do something themselves. A cat will not cease to mew until you open that can of food or let it out!
A good test automator does try to solve problems alone, but he or she immediately asks for help when somebody else already has the solution.
9. Cats purr or scratch to give you immediate feedback on their wellbeing.
A good test automator always keeps management informed on the health of test automation. He or she also makes sure that all stakeholders of test automation get the information they need in the, for them, best possible form:
a. Managers on trends and metrics
b. Testers on bugs that should be kept on the screen
c. Developers with bug reports that actually help localize the bugs
10. Cats groom themselves all the time: a healthy cat keeps itself always clean.
A good test automator keeps the automation testware clean: tests are refactored regularly and tests that are not needed any longer are removed.