This article by Wayne Ariola was originally published on TechWell Insights
Software testers work tirelessly to ensure that their organizations’ applications deliver the expected value and user experiences. At times, this is a thankless job. There’s virtually no end to the amount of testing you could perform on each and every release. Moreover, when you find an issue, you usually need to beg and plead to prove that it’s “real” and to get it appropriately prioritized by the development team.
It can get frustrating.
Many testing professionals react by igniting testing transformation initiatives that change how testing is performed and perceived across their organization. This is certainly a necessary and valuable course of action, but if you’re ready to try something new, you might want to learn more about robotic process automation (RPA).
At its core, RPA is ultimately the same as software test automation: Both automatically drive an application via the UI or API to make manual work faster, less burdensome, and more accurate.
But there are some key differences:
- RPA focuses on automating sequences of tasks in production environments to successfully execute a clearly defined path through a process, so you can complete work faster
- Test automation focuses on automating realistic business processes in test environments to see where an application fails, so you can make informed decisions about whether an application is too risky to release
In other words, in software testing, you focus on using automation to determine how a process can possibly break; with RPA, you use automation to make a process work.
As Gartner defines them, “RPA tools perform ‘if, then, else’ statements on structured data, typically using a combination of user interface (UI) interactions, or by connecting to APIs to drive client servers, mainframes, or HTML code. An RPA tool operates by mapping a process in the RPA tool language for the software ‘robot’ to follow, with runtime allocated to execute the script by a control dashboard.”
With Gartner declaring RPA the fastest-growing market in enterprise software (with 63% year-over-year growth), the need for automation specialists is going to skyrocket.
As more and more enterprises get RPA up and running, it’s also becoming clear that the number one hurdle to RPA success and scalability is the construction of sustainable automation—a skill that most successful testers already possess.
Software test automation specialists are perfectly poised to excel in the explosion of new RPA opportunities. They know how to make automation work in even the most complex and dynamic scenarios, and they know how to pound at automated processes from every angle to ensure that they’re veritably bulletproof.
One way to get a taste for what RPA really involves is to download an RPA tool that provides a free trial or community edition, then sign up for a self-paced RPA certification program. Think of the repetitive manual tasks that you hate the most (report preparation, environment setup and teardown, etc.) and see what it’s like to automate them with RPA.
If you enjoy working with automation, RPA can present an exciting new opportunity to make a broader impact across the business.