Ben Williams, Janrain
The Tester. Who are they, where did they come from, and where are they going?
Testers face different challenges than they did 10 years ago. The business and software landscape has changed dramatically. The modern-day tester needs to evolve or face extinction. Gone are the days of detailed requirements before starting development and of running regression tests after implementation. Often a new feature must be deployed as rapidly as possible, sometimes even the same day it was conceived.
The development world is quickly moving away from the waterfall model, replacing it with agile methodologies. Quality Assurance (QA) engineers find themselves trapped between the trusted but time-consuming ways of ensuring quality and the challenge of providing coverage in the fast-moving agile world. While most software developers have found their groove working in agile, quality engineers have struggled and find themselves lagging behind.
Automation has taken us a long way, but there are still shortcomings. Maintainability, reliability, and re-usability are issues faced in all automation suites. In many agile shops, there remains a high dependence on manual testing and drawn-out regressions, causing the all too common QA ‘bottleneck.’ The stereotype that QA slows down the process has created a tendency to limit the use or effectiveness of quality engineers or forgo testing completely; trading unnecessary quality risks for speed.
The pace of business has changed. In order to survive, QA must change with it. Reducing the need for manual regressions by expanding test automation, improving coverage reporting, simplifying manual regressions and providing continuous testing are solid first steps. Testers will also need to evolve their responsibilities to include understanding the product and end-goal; making sure that what they are working on is right for the end user and the company.