Failed Tests Can Be a Good Thing, as Long as You're Not Tolerating Too Many of Them

Posted Dec 7th, 2021

“Why do we fall?” This is a question directed at a young Bruce Wayne by the lovable butler Alfred Pennyworth in Batman Begins. The answer? “So that we can learn to pick ourselves up.” It’s a wise and heartwarming approach to failure, a quote that teaches us to learn from our mistakes. Now while the world of DevOps may not include dressing up in costumes and fighting criminal masterminds of the underworld (at least in the traditional sense) these lessons can be applicable in all walks of life, including in our approach to testing.

Failed tests can be a good thing. Now the caveat here would be that you aren’t tolerating a failure rate that exceeds your ability to analyze results. But a failed test can add tremendous value if it points out a defect or illuminates a change in the product of which you were previously unaware. This failed test is essentially catching a defect much earlier than you would have with manual testing and as we all know, catching defects early saves us money and protects the user experience.

Obviously, we don’t aspire for our tests to fail, but the occasional failure that sets us up for success validates our investment in testing automation in the first place. It’s not too dissimilar to Batman losing a fight against Bane only to learn what it will take to eventually save Gotham City. For more on why I don’t mind failed tests, check out the video below.

Come back next week when I make the case for testers joining the scrum teams. 


Written by

Marcus Merrell