How to Rescue a Failed Test Automation?

Tips on how to rescue failed test automation technically, and more importantly, address the subtle human factors

Zhimin Zhan
12 min readNov 4, 2021


Update (2022–10–04): Case Study: Rescue Unreliable 20 hours of Automated Regression Testing in Jenkins ⇒ 6-Minute Highly-Reliable in BuildWise CT Server

Over the last 10 years, I have successfully rescued many failed test automation in different software projects using the same technical formula. I was unable to rescue some as well, due to human factors. In this article, I will share my thoughts and experience.

First of all, compared to the green-field project, it is not going to be easy with an existing failed approach in place. There are a number of human factors.

Table of Contents:Technically Competent
Human factors on existing failed automation solution
Talk Test Automation in the context of "Release Often" to upper management
Talk Test Automation in the context of "Automated Regression Testing" to team members
People tend to be fixated on a tool; often, they want to be that way
Replacing with another "Tool"
Specific Advice

Technically Competent

Testing is practical, automated testing means practical and objective (clearly measurable with no grey area). To rescue a failed test automation (being a hero), you need to be technically competent first. I mean real competence here. Try to answer these questions:

For your last project,

  • What's the size of the E2E test suite?
  • How often do you run them?
  • Do they all pass?
  • How long does it take?
  • How often does your team push updates to production?

I can answer the above (except the last one) with one screenshot.

A recent WhenWise build on BuildWise

My answer to the last question: once I get a green build (passing all UI tests, like the one above), I push it to production immediately. Quite often, multiple…



Zhimin Zhan

Test automation & CT coach, author, speaker and award-winning software developer. Help teams succeed with Agile/DevOps by implementing real Continuous Testing.

Recommended from Medium


See more recommendations