Cory Maddy is a Eugene, OR-based Quality Assurance Engineer, whose work spans the telecommunications and manufacturing industries. He currently focuses primarily on manual and automated testing using LAMP stack technologies, and agile methodologies.
Last year, I was promoted from a QA Technician to a QA Engineer. This promotion was really exciting for me and I wanted to continue learning more specifically about what QA Engineers do. One of my co-workers mentioned PNSQC and about volunteering opportunities, so I signed up. After attending PNSQC in 2018, one thing stood out to me: how popular automation and AI technologies are becoming for companies and engineers across the world. Each presentation at the conference focusing on these topics had a full audience. It was amazing! Technology has rapidly advanced over the last few decades, and companies are now scrambling as they realize the value of spending more on these testing resources to increase the quality of their products.
So many QA professionals already use and implement automation across their systems, but there are still many who are not. Additionally, a small but growing percentage are also using AI. By understanding and implementing automation, companies not only can find issues before they are released but also prevent reoccurring issues from resurfacing. This is truly innovating.
Adding Context to the Talks
Something to think about is that automation should be used as a tool and not as the main source of testing a product. As an automation suite grows, the upkeep or maintenance required grows as well, especially if the product tends to change over time with things such as new features or redesigns. There needs to be a balance of maintaining old automated tests that are extremely reliable while implementing new or upgraded tests to cover the product’s newest updates.
As a QA engineer in the 21st century, I can recognize the importance of mixing automation with manual testing, and how valuable manual testing can be.
Humans still do some things better when it comes to testing, including having the ability to learn and comprehend a company’s product, being able to design and develop test plans for optimal product test coverage and then providing important feedback for multiple teams across different departments. Manual testers can perform exploratory testing in different ways than AI, especially from a UX point of view. Also, automation is limited to what it is programmed to do, whereas a manual tester is not. People can think critically, triage issues and figure out unknown issues with product knowledge and experience.
I am really looking forward to attending PNSQC 2019 now, to see how engineers around the world are designing and implementing automation and AI across their systems, and hear the stories they have to tell about all their experiences. It will be interesting to see how much the conference and testing technologies have progressed over this last year!