Before asking the actual question, let me describe the current situation.
The IT department consists of a few Scrum-like teams, with one or two software testers per team. Furthermore there are two overarching roles not bound to a team: the QA team lead, and a test automation expert.
The test automation expert has achieved the following in about 18 months:
- Create a framework to write API tests
- Create a framework to write UI tests
- Create a framework to set up data (using SQL and events) for automated tests
- Create a tool to collect and store results from all test runs
- Over 2500 API tests have been written (including by the other testers)
- Over 120 UI tests have been written
- Training of the team members is ongoing (basic coding skills to writing automated tests).
- Tests are integrated in CI pipelines by the team lead and architectural team.
- Maintenance of API tests is a responsibility being pushed to the teams.
Considering the above, the current 'test automation' work is now limited to:
- maintenance of frameworks and tests (but that's decreasing)
- training/coaching (limited in time of course)
- writing additional API/UI tests on new features for the teams
Is there a next level of challenges for this role - beyond the frameworks? And beyond simply adding more tests? In what other ways can the role support the QA process?
One idea was exploring AI test automation but that is quite a different beast. Especially because the ROI - for in-house tools - seems hard to defend.
- The tests are run in pipelines (each team has at least one pipeline, and there are pipelines for consolidated Dev/Release branches). Especially for releases, tests provide a quick feedback and are fairly consistently at about 98,5% passing rate.
- Test data management: currently, some pipelines deploy to both a "manual testing environment" having a full restored database, and and "automated testing environment" having an empty database. This database is first of all prefilled with fixed core data (specific scripts). Furthermore every test is self-sufficient in that it prepares its own customers, contracts etc.