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  1. #1
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    Re: What is the right size for an automated testing team?

    Our manual testers are the same number as yours and we have 4 automation Engineers. In my opinion that is just about 2 less than we need for now. Considering we do 50% of all the testing in the department we should have about 50% of the people to keep it running smoothly, what with new functionality, maintenance, and new projects.
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  2. #2
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    Re: What is the right size for an automated testing team?

    Actually, it is more a matter of expectations I presume. If your company is happy for you to take the time you require to get your existing tests automated, then you develop a conversion plan on the basis of the available staffing levels. What I am also curious about is what you plan to do with those manual testers. Are they going to lose their jobs? I could see a rationale for getting a couple of seasoned test automation experts and to start a skills transfer to bring others up to the level of expertise rather than to hire a new crew for that function.

    I have been on record many times that no testing should ever be totally automated, nor should you depend totally on manual testing. The idea that you create a more blended team by importing your initial technical skills and then exchanging the skills would seem sensible, because you don't want to get into the "A" team vs. "B" team mode within a testing group. If in the end your staff consists of 14 testers with varying degrees of competence in manual testing and automation, does that not meet your requirements?
    Frits Bos, PMP
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  3. #3
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    What is the right size for an automated testing team?

    Hi, I am interested in knowing everyone's opinion on the best size for an automated testing team.

    I know this is kind of a loaded question not unlike "which tool is the best" or "which OS is best", but I'm looking to create some kind of business case for needing a good sized automated team. I'm also inexperienced in gauging something like this.

    To give a little background, we are rewriting our application from the ground up (again). We are switching over from a pure Unix based system to a Client/Server model. This is a very large application with (probably) one million + of lines of code. We're starting from scratch.

    I realize that it will be difficult to give a good answer to this question, but is five an unreasonable number? I actually think it's a low number. They told me they've got budget for two... and I think that's not going to cut it if we want industry standard (read: good) automated testing.

    Additionally, if you find it a little difficult to express an exact number on the above question, maybe you could express what you think a reasonable ratio would be between automated testers and manual testers. Currently, we have about 11 or 12 manual testers.

  4. #4
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    Re: What is the right size for an automated testing team?

    With a million lines of code, and 12 manual testers, I'm assuming you have between 5 and 10,000 test cases to automate.

    It depends on how quickly your company wants a complete automated test suite. With 5 people, it will take about a year and a half, if your automated staff are relatively expert. You can, however, start with the most "used" functions and maximize the benefit of automation within 3 months or so.

    I would say the ideal number is 7 or 8, particularly if your automated staff are also going to be handling performance/stress/load or tuning scripts. You'll want one person to act as a lead, and someone to take responsibility for managing/upgrading/maintaining the tool itself. You can do it with 4, however (I have). You just can't do it fast!

    - Linda

  5. #5
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    Re: What is the right size for an automated testing team?

    I think the LOC are irrelevant. I think one can best determine the automation team size by knowing what the test requirements are. What are the tangible pieces/parts of functionality that make sense to automate? If you have an inventory of pieces/parts that made it through an automation-candidate selection process, you then have a good basis for estimating the team size while factoring in all other factors of project management practices. If the code is delivered in phases such that you have idle or potentially idle automation engineers, you may be able to allocate a smaller automation team across multiple phases.

    In lieu of, and other than what the above exercise will tell you for team size; I would opt for the numbers indicated by Linda from a perspective of a team lead's capacity for team size.

    Aside from all that, I would make it a point to have the following in place if you have a team of multiple members:

    1) Have an automation framework engineer who maintains a broad view of all the pieces/parts to automate. This person would look for opportunities to build automation framework that could sustain anticipated application changes and provide resue opportunities. This person would also drive out reusability and coding conventions and standards.

    2) Have another engr keeping watch over script versioning and related CM/CC as related to scripts. (Big task)

    3) Have another practice by which someone is watching out for test run length such that your automated tests complete in a reasonable time. This function would also let you anticipate the need for distributed testing.

    4) And yet another team function/practice by which tools upgrades, patches, and licenses are managed.

  6. #6
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    Re: What is the right size for an automated testing team?

    I was looking at these replies and trying to sort out what I have been doing wrong.
    I think I have worked out that I do test automation while everyone else does automated testing.
    So our manual testers still do their manual testing and use the automation to increase the coverage and reduce the elapsed time in testing.
    Fortunately I have only been involved in smallish projects (conversion of a 2 million customer utility company application from legacy to client server for Y2k and a similar sized customer base for a bank just doing legacy to client server) and at best there were 3 automator but mostly just one.
    Found that it took about 3 months to get the bulk of the automation written but some was being used within a week. New releases of code were usually handled that day and most times the code would be transparently backwardly compatible.

  7. #7
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    Re: What is the right size for an automated testing team?

    Fritz, I agree with much of what you have to say.

    The manual testers would not lose their jobs, we'd just be adding automation to our toolkit, more or less.

    The sticking point is that many of our manual testers are in the bay area, while the automated testing will be taking place in the Phoenix area. It is difficult to transfer skills across states. Additionally, our manual testers are very business knowledgable, but I wouldn't say that they're technical people. I would see automated testing as a way to compliment a wider testing methodolgy, rather than a way to cut costs.

  8. #8
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    Re: What is the right size for an automated testing team?

    Sheesh I thought I was way under staffed before, now I realize how truly understaffed I am. There are two of us for 28 "regular" QA people (100+ developers). No wonder I put in almost 600 hours of overtime last year. I seriously have to review this and maybe get some more help.. Like quadrupling the department based on what seems to be indicated here.

  9. #9
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    Re: What is the right size for an automated testing team?

    Keep in mind, the biggest task is to keep up with the manual tests to be automated and the second biggest task is to keep up with the maintenance of the already automated tests, beyond that it's all downhill, with things like determining what to automate, constantly updating the automation framework, managing the automation group, planning strategies for coming years, and about a hundred and one more things.
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