Test Automation - A Competitive Advantage?

We've talked about HOW to evaluate testing automation. We discussed staffing issues, managing equipment from multiple vendors, maximizing asset utilization, and consolidating test results into one database to easily keep track of results, updates, etc. 
But what about the WHY? Why should companies invest in test automation tools, especially now, in an economy where cutting costs is typically the response to getting through this rough time?
It is a given that products will always need testing, and there will always be the need for human interaction. But, if you cut back on the testing or the people directly involved with the testing, my suspicion is that the product will suffer, followed by reputation. If you're considering cutbacks to weather the current financial situation, it's a good bet that your competition is too. If you rely on manual testing to produce and maintain a quality product, your company may be at a significant disadvantage when compared with higher quality competing products.
So, the reason companies need to invest now, is to not only maintain their competitive advantage, but perhaps even pull ahead! Automating your testing environment lets you do that. A sustainable competitive advantage is the focal point of your corporate strategy and test automation is one way to achieve a significant advantage with a modest investment of money and time.
Allocating Personnel: Use your limited staff wisely. To do that, you need to automate those repetitive testing tasks so the engineers can focus on the more complicated, mind-stimulating ones. Spend the small amount of time needed to design and develop the regression tests, smoke tests, etc. that can be run continually on their own, and not cost a dime to run. This frees up the time for testers to create and analyze the new, more exciting and complicated tests.
Test Continuously: As we said, once you've made the investment in building automated test scripts, there is no good reason not to run them frequently (and lots of good reasons to do so)!    You can run scripts 7x24, utilizing equipment that would otherwise stand idle overnight and on weekends and holidays.
Consolidate your test results: If you have more tests being run, and more engineers dedicated to new features, it stands to reason that you need one repository to hold everything. You can significantly reduce time when you can find everything about all the tests that have been run, and the results, in one place! And, since 'undocumented software features' will inevitably crop up, and codes get larger and more complicated, you can easily, and cost effectively, address them without breaking something else!
Build Better Software: Now that you can cover more ground with your testing assets, by definition, you can build a better product. You have the time and tools to build it faster, and be more innovative. So, you can take full advantage of your competitors' short term cutbacks to improve and increase your long term market share.
I'm interesting in hearing your thoughts on test automation as a sustainable competitive advantage. 
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This page contains a single entry by Terry Caterisano published on July 17, 2009 12:43 PM.

Is Test Automation THE Answer? was the previous entry in this blog.

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