Tuesday, October 26, 2010

How HP Failed BPT

HP failed Business Process Testing (BPT) when it rolled the automated test framework out several years ago, and it has not really done much since.

HP marketed BPT as a way for non-technical content experts to build automated tests.  The original tutorials showed an implementation where the non-technical content experts designed and built components (the reusable building blocks of tests) by simply stringing together objects and keywords.  Then, the content experts drag the components together to build tests.  That tutorial demonstrated the functionality of BPT, but it failed to even give a hint about how to implement it successfully.

Non-technical content experts are the wrong group to use when building the infrastructure for a test system.  The system is good, but it is not automagic.

Non-technical content experts should never be the ones to decide the scope and purpose of components.  The components are way too important, and the approach is way too random.  There are too many ways to define a component, and if you don’t have a pattern or model in mind, you will end up with a bunch of components that are redundant, inefficient, and hard to maintain.  The strategy for designing components should be treated like a software development activity.  An automator should be involved here.

In addition to confusing the issue of who should design components, HP provided no advice on how to design them, and there is still a fair amount of confusion about this.  For example, should we build components that perform a business process?  That makes sense based on the name, “Business Process Testing.”  But, when you have a component called “Register a New Member,” you are limited to using the same positive flow.  How would you use that component if you wanted to verify negative tests such as what happens when you attempt to register a new member with an invalid social security number?  Business processes like this would make sense if you only wanted to test “happy path” cases.

After this confusing rollout, BPT languished without a lot of attention from HP or the testing community.  This has been really frustrating to those of us who use and see the value of BPT.  As I see it, BPT is the perfect tool for agile testing.  It is a great tool for getting the power of automation to all members of the team without being limited by the level of technical skills.

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