Hey Smiths,

One of my favorite sites is I Will Teach You To Be Rich, a site about personal finance and entrepreneurship, written by Ramit Sethi.

Other personal finance blogs focus on the minor details. They want you to nickel & dim everything, clip coupons, and try to save 5 cents on every purchase.

Ramit flips the script. He tells you to buy those lattes and watch those movies, and instead of sacrificing enjoyment and pleasure to save a couple cents, focus on those five to ten Big Wins that will save you hundreds or thousands of dollars.

This is in line with my kind of thinking. It got me wondering, how can the Big Wins strategy apply to helping your company grow with automation?

These big wins are in no particular order

Big Win #1: Figure Out Your Why

Also, knowing why you’re making the effort in the first place. This will help guide your decisions, and keep you going when times get rough. Not sure about what your why? Well it should really boil down to giving your customers the best experience possible. Testing helps with that.

Big Win #2 Build A Lean Automation Framework

An automation framework can help everyone on the team write test faster and more efficiently.

Big Win #3: Learn, Learn, Learn.

To me testing is learning. If you’re not learning then you’re not testing. Every test that runs is an opportunity to ask a question and see how the system responds. You can build or low confidence, validate old assumptions, qualify changes, just to name a few.

Big Win #4: Keep Doing What’s Working, Toss Everything Else

Once you have a grasp on what you have, what you need, and what you have but don’t need, it’s easier to plan your next move. Keep what’s working do more, until it stops then try something else.

Big Win #5: Take A Performance Baseline

The last thing you want is to not know how the system was performing the day there’s a major performance hit. Taking these measurements early can save you one day. It also helps see trends: have you slowly reached the point of no return, or did the application finally just fall off a cliff.

Big Win #6: Find Your Cheerleaders

Everyone needs a little encouragement once in a while. The organization should have someone who can rally the troops before a big charge. Congratulate the team for success, and point I key changes to avoid mistakes. Normally this is a QA manager, but on small startups someone else might be wearing this hat.

Big Win #7: Figure Out Your Automation Structure

What ‘Layer’ of the system will you be automating from? The UI, API, Database, etc. Are you going to go with an automation framework? Is a DSL more your style? Would you leverage tools like Selenium, QTP, SoupUI, etc.

Having these ideas sketched out help you stay on track. They’ll influence the type of team your company will be building, the systems they’ll need in place, and a lot of other things.

Big Win #8: Setup Testing Environments

Quick environment list:

Development – latest most up to date code.

Stage – Everything that’s on production or will be very shortly.

Performance – Isolated environment for running performance related test.

Production – What you’re customers see right now.

Big Win #9: Continues Integration & The Nightly Builds

Having test automatically run after check-ins shortens the lifespan of bugs which save time and money. Periodically regressing the systems also lets you know how new changes are effecting other parts of the application.

Big Win #10: Starting From Scratch? Upgrade Slowly

Spend time learning the basics first (completing the Big Wins above certainly helps), and then begin to upgrade when the time is right.

So there you have it.

Improving quality in your company is all about accumulating a series of Big Wins.