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Smart QA managers want to know what they are getting in return for spending their ever-tightening budgets on test automation. One way to collect the information needed to make the business case for this expense — also called the Return On Investment (ROI) — is to create an Automation Value-Add Matrix.
A typical Matrix looks something like this:
Business Need: this is a simple statement of the problem to be solved or concern to be addressed.
Solution (Automation): a brief description of the proposed course of action.
Automation Class: the type of automation development to be done, which provides a high-level view of the resources required to develop the solution. (see my blog Types of Test Automation Frameworks for more information)
Scope of Testing: a summary of the type and level of testing to be automated. It can include business processes, customers, specific test cases — whatever is required to address the business need.
Value-Add: a clear, concise description of what the payback is for completing this automation solution. This explains how the business need is met and should include any additional benefits derived from automation.
Initial ROI Date: this optional column answers the management question “OK, when do I start to see the ROI?”. It is used to estimate when the first positive impact might be made by the automation effort. It can occur before or after the Target Delivery Date. It could be a beta-test, a customer acceptance test, or some other quality gate.
Target Delivery Date: this column is used to estimate the completion date of the automation solution. It usually indicates the date when the automation is deployed into the QA environment for execution. As mentioned above, the ROI might not be perceived immediately and might accumulate over successive iterations.
Of course, this matrix can be customized to fit the needs of your specific QA automation organization, but the concepts generally remain the same.