Automating software development has a lot of benefits, but it can be difficult to figure out what to automate and what not to. So to make it easy for you, here’s everything that you need to know about software development automation.
The question that’s at the very center of your decision to automate should be: how much time will you save by automating a certain task, and what will you do with that time?
Some common benefits of automation include:
- Increasing available time for people in an organization to do tasks that only humans can.
- Decreasing human error.
- Increasing productivity.
- Increasing income.
- Producing faster and more consistent results.
What TO automate
Tasks that are automated are usually those that can be defined and repeated, whether deterministically or probabilistically (which is what we term machine learning). Software developers use AI tools to schedule and plan projects, automate testing, compile code, make decisions, and many other tasks.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself to see whether or not you should automate tasks.
- How much of a no-brainer is the work? - If a task presents no challenge, then why waste human time on it?
- Where do you need to reduce human error? - Examine your workflow for processes that are tedious and prone to human error. These are tasks like: copy-pasting data from one user interface to another, or having the same data in multiple places without systems talking to each other.
- How much time is too much time to spend on a task? - Unique to you and your business.
More specifically however, here are some tasks that absolutely should be automated.
- Rapid application development: Most of the popular coding frameworks have pre-defined unit tests, and these are usually ideal for automating. They’re the exact same for any project and are quite elementary, and so can test core functionality without the application of any overly complex or project-specific logic necessary.
- Code generation: tests can be generated automatically, as well as the data for those tests. In test cases where the logic is simple but the data requirement for testing is high (like input validation), then many different field inputs can be generated automatically to test against a vast array of edge cases. This is far easier, quicker, and more comprehensive than manual testing.
- Quality assurance: although important, QA isn’t a high-level development task. Automation code can handle large amounts of the QA process and catch unique, odd bugs that a human can’t - way faster than a human could, too.
- Network deployment: infrastructure will probably be needed to test and host the software, and doing this manually can be a nightmare. Automation means that every single server updated or provisioned will have the same software and configurations.
- More specific tasks, such as: Coding similar functionalities across multiple different projects at a time, stress-testing a core system, and changing infrastructure quickly while keeping servers in parity.
What NOT to automate
With that in mind, there are some things that you should never automate.
- Real-time collaboration - nothing beats the power of multiple minds. While the processes and tools that allow for collaboration can be simplified and streamlined, collaboration itself mustn't be touched.
- Highly complex processes – the amount of headaches and time that you’d spend automating processes that are highly complex will really never seem worth it to you. Don’t bother automating highly complex processes - unless you have us do it for you!
- Tests for early stage features – if API endpoints or the UI will be changing as time goes on, manual testing is best.
- Unreliable tests – stay away from automating any test that doesn’t pass consistently.
How NerdCloud can help
Here at NerdCloud, not only have we automated some of our own processes, but we are constantly helping our customers to automate theirs.
If you’re thinking about possibly automating some tasks in your business, then there’s no one better to help you do just that! As a software and tech solution specialist, we’ll fix your automation problems or answer whatever questions you may have. If you need a bit more information than what we’ve covered in this article, feel free to reach out and contact us.