173: Making Automation Work for Every Build with Danny McKeown

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In this episode, Danny McKeown of Paychex test talks about how his small tools group supports nearly one hundred Agile teams in their automation efforts. Danny will share how his team is able to lead other teams to implement and succeed with their automation testing. You’ll also discover how Paychex assesses progress with their maturity model.

About Danny McKeown

Danny McKeown has over thirty years of technical and management experience in Information Technology. With Paychex for thirteen years, Danny has spent the last seven years as the Senior Test Automation Architect. In this role, he is instrumental in implementing an enterprise-wide, secure automation framework that leverages Selenium and other vendor technologies to support Continuous Delivery.

In addition, Danny is an adjunct lecturer at the Rochester Institute of Technology in the Software Engineering Department and on the advisory board for the International Institute for Software Testing.

Quotes & Insights from this Test Talk

  • I always go back to the test automation pyramid. I joke with my colleagues that if I was going to have a tattoo it would probably be the automation pyramid on my arm. I say that because we get caught up in so many new technologies new techniques and what are our vendors are offering which are some very slick tools. But you have to get back to the basics right. Do unit testing. Is in passing or not? If not it's a futile attempt to move forward with UI automation.
  • Test Automation/CI has been a journey this has been an eight-year journey. So it didn't happen overnight. It's certainly a cultural shift. And one prong we had very strong senior management sponsorship that is willing to invest in both development and tests automated tools and processes to create an environment where we can do some of these things. The other prong is that there is the right level of subject matter experts or individual leads on our agile teams. I believe very strongly in doing this because I think in the past we didn't do it – whenever we took shortcuts. It always does catch up with you.
  • The test automation pyramid was really was focused on the application itself unit testing, none UI and then eventually UI testing. But again the organization of the culture has expanded that too in our pre-deploy we define first is the environment even ready for a code deploy. So we baseline and do some basic checks. And there are checks at the middleware, hardware configuration level. If that passed then we'll deploy the code. We also check to see if the environment is ready to even start doing some non UI testing like web services. So really it's you need to know in the pre-deploy is the environment in a healthy ready to take a deployment before running your various automated tests.
  • But as you said we could have at any given time 80 to 100 of those agile teams creating products for our customers. The automation team like most tools teams is not that big. So how do you service all these teams? So what we learned through trial and error is we keep the development framework team insulated from direct customer calls or emails or call disruptions. So we have an agile team between development teams and our framework teams and what they do is a tremendous success of our framework team.
  • It sounds 101 but I would go to the automation pyramid and see Honestly if your management and your peers believe it. You got to start with the basics and before you jump in the test automation are we doing unit testing and then are we using those unit test results and then I would really start with the non-UI. The non-UI testing though people want to jump to you GUI testing –the non-UI testing is much more stable on a test automation scripts and you will get further doing your non-UI testing. You'll get the confidence you get repeatability you get stability.

Connect with Danny McKeown

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