Where are testing roles shifting to?

(Simon Godfrey) #21

Great topic. I was about to start a new thread on this but had a feeling there MUST be a discussion about the future of testing on these forums already!

I’m about to hold a series of meetings with my team to discuss the future of testing within our company. The majority of our testers are automation testers. That is, they spend almost all of their time involved in AC, writing & execution automated tests and raising/verifying bugs.

It worries me that we could have a lot of automated checkers rather than a team of testers.

Before we talk about the future of testing within our company I’m going to explore with them what good testing looks like and importantly, what value it brings to the business.

For me, good testing is a lot about combining an excellent knowledge of the product with an excellent knowledge of the customer. If you understand those two you put yourself in a great position to be an effective tester. One concern I have with the tester of today, and I see this in different businesses, is that the focus is on writing code and not on understanding the customer or working with colleagues in Support to find out what customers are reporting.

Having thousands of automated or manual tests does not demonstrate the value of a tester or testing team. The value comes, and this is from experience, where someone says “I want X to test this before we ship because I know that X will find any problems in the product”. We can dress testing up as many things, and talk about different methodologies and techniques but it comes down to supporting release decisions and reducing risk.

In the last 15 years, I’ve seen testing move from 90% manual to 90% automated but it concerns me that I see fewer examples of testers who’re the expert when it comes to the product AND the customer.

(KC Casas) #22

In our Agile project, one of the things I did as test lead was to do a preliminary review of the user story before passing it for PO review. As we went on, I’ve been a proxy PO when the PO was out for some time. And I’m now partially taking on the BA tasks since I’m familiar with the architecture, the db structures, and most of the internal behaviors (not just the what we see when we black box test).

My other tester colleague has also taken on additional responsibilities of being the team’s scrum master / project manager.

There are really a lot of opportunities for testers to provide value, as long as the whole team is aligned on having the product as the focus. :slight_smile:

(Viv) #23

I hadn’t heard of companies getting rid of ‘testing roles’ as such though know a few places where they had testers but the work was never ready in time to test and so they’d some testing “if we have time…” . - it’s no suprise the companies are struggling to meet deadlines, the software riddled with bugs and the team is building up masses of technical debt - it’s an absolute shambles!

In a time where technology is changing fast companies undoubtedly want to look in to using the latest and greatest to save money and add value to their business. I think though companies are trying to find a silver bullet and unfortunately they think test automation is it! We should be looking to automate what’s right and not everything?

As said by @keiscasas I think testers can add lots of value during refinement or three amigo sessions helping to flesh out user stories and adding acceptance criteria to story’s. Where I worked we’ve also spoken about working with developers to help discuss edge cases for them to consider when writing unit tests etc to try to improve quality as well as using WIP to not only get work over the line but also allow us time to pair with other members of the team to help share knowledge and skills across the team between the difference disciplines.

Where I live and work Selenium is a common request on job adverts for testing, with companies often requesting knowledge of SQL, .Net and/or Java.

(Robert) #24

Oh, Viv, my last company got rid of testing roles - and dev roles! The company’s owners decided that in-house development was impacting the bottom line too much, so they went out to look for proprietary software to do the same job. Then they liked what they saw so much, they bought the proprietary software company lock stock and barrel, and dispensed with their in-house team.

Which backfired on them when they announced to the online world that their new office was open for business and “click here for an exclusive online tour” - only to find that the link didn’t work. “You’d think someone would have tested that before launch,” I blogged. “Oh, no, I forgot - you SACKED all your testers.”

But that was that company all over - I was only ever tasked with testing what had been developed in-house; stuff we bought in was expected to work straight out of the box, and the website wasn’t the responsibility of the IT team and so never officially got tested.

(John) #25

Especially when it comes to outsourcing, I think many Execs believe in “out of sight, out of mind.”

When they get rid of Software Development departments, they don’t see or hear any problems, so they don’t think any exist.

(John) #26

I applaud your focus on investigation and the use of the word “craft” ala Brian Marick. I hadn’t heard the term “investigative testing.” I like it and use the term “Exploratory Testing” to denote this.

I hope the industry recognizes the need for both test automation people and “investigative testers.”

(John) #27

In the U.S., they are shifting to automation. Job postings are heavy on automation skills; not much for testing skills.

In “Testing and Checking Refined,” James Bach and Michael Bolton quote Marshall McLuhan “We shape our tools, and thereafter our tools shape us.

Regarding changing roles, the article goes on to state…
We may witness how industrialization changes cabinet craftsmen into cabinet factories, and that may tempt us to speak of the changing role of the cabinet maker, but the cabinet factory worker is certainly not a mutated cabinet craftsman.”

Food for thought.