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What we’ve learnt from our test automation revolution

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: DWP Digital, Test engineering
Matthew Spence

There are some exciting changes happening at DWP Digital! We’ve fully invested in fundamentally changing the way we work; developing not only our infrastructure but developing the people who work here as well. We’ve come a long way and learnt a heck of a lot so we thought we’d share some of that with you.

Working on our Test Automation project

On the day I’m writing this it’s been 8 months and 15 days since our Test Automation project within the Children’s Test Platform was first born.

On day 1 there were 3 of us and 1 goal: to build a Java Selenium Test Automation Framework to work with a customised Siebel Application and run a fully-automated Regression Pack. We wanted to move away from our over reliance on propriety third-party software.

We started with a technology upgrade. Our existing application - a Siebel-based platform - was being upgraded and moving to an IBM Cloud Environment. So, we bid a fond (ish!) farewell to our desktops and welcomed in new, more powerful developer laptops.

Building our engineering capability

Secondly, we took the time to invest in our workforce. With the support of our Deputy Director and our colleagues in the Engineering Practice, 8 enthusiastic volunteers completed an intensive 3-month training course. Learning everything from basic Java right through to IntelliJ, GIT and Jenkins; everything they need to work within a fully developed automation framework.

We also needed to decide on a structure for our new framework. Again, we lent on our Engineering Practice colleagues for support: sourcing best practice and utilising the extensive knowledge built up in other areas of DWP Digital.

Using agile tools

Then we got on board the Agile train! This meant up-skilling everyone on tools like JIRA and Confluence, as well as working to the Kanban Sprint model. The majority of the team was new to this way of working but we’ve embraced the daily stand-ups and 2-week sprint reviews as well as the retrospectives and planning sessions.

The team has worked hard over the last 8 months to get as close as we are today but it wouldn’t have been possible without the full backing of the entire business. There have even been a few promotions along the way! Now we’re looking to the future - CICD Pipeline integration, Performance, API, Security, Accessibility - it really has been a revolution!

Fast forward to present day and we’re now a team of 13 people mixing contingent labour, colleagues from TCS and DWP employee. And we’re within touching distance of our final goal, which is a fully automated Regression Pack within a Java Selenium Test Automation Framework and a team that’s equipped and ready to move into DWP’s digital future.

Join us

We're currently recruiting Test specialists. If you’re interested in working with us, take a look at our current vacancies. You can also have a look at our LinkedIn page, find out more about what's happening in DWP Digital by subscribing to this blog and following us on Twitter @DWPDigital and @DWPDigitalJobs.


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  1. Comment by Gayle posted on

    Great blog Matthew. It's amazing how much we've achieved in a short time with a lot of hard work.

  2. Comment by Marie Royce posted on

    Hi Matthew, really enjoyed reading your blog and keen to learn more on test automation.

  3. Comment by Matthew Spence posted on

    Thanks Marie, please mail me and I'm sure we can arrange an overview of our project and the work we do for you.