Software Testers – Going the way of Dinosaurs?

  • Are testers a dying breed, destined for extinction?- A perspective by Lakshmy Usha

Why testers are not required

The industry’s need for software testing professionals is constantly evolving. Time-to-market has become even more critical with applications being delivered in very short time frames of 3-6 weeks in different platforms and operating systems. In such situations, the management usually wants tests to be run automatically within the shortest possible time. With Agile and Devops being the new norm and AI & test bots just around the horizon, is the tester’s role relevant anymore?

Increasingly, we see situations where the development team does the testing themselves. In some teams, developers take the QA role by “rotation” and in some teams, everyone tests – but not their code. Most often, the early tests are automated using the same development framework/language. This type of testing leaves very little time for e2e testing or even exploratory testing.  What is the impact of this in the current scenario where software complexity is increasing exponentially in a very connected world?  Given the diverse user base for any application, poor user experience increases support costs, and, worse still, results in a loss of customers.

Wait! May be testers are required …

The issue is that testers are expected to re-invent/upskill themselves as automation professionals. Traditionally, test automation has been performed by engineers who were not particularly interested in testing – but looked upon this as an alternate to a profession in development & coding. The real skill and mindset required for testing is overlooked completely when testing is considered as a development activity and done purely by developers themselves, and many organisations view this as an “anyone can do it” type of activity.

We may argue that testers have to evolve into developers – acquiring another skill. While it is good from career perspective, there are some common issues that this does not solve.

  • It is not possible to automate everything, due to technical constraints
  • One script running on different platforms including mobile platforms is still a distant dream
  • Developed scripts have to be tested – with developers delivering code at the last possible moment – typically at the end of the sprint – there is really no time left to test the scripts and perform the testing
  • Agile mandates a sustainable pace.
    However, velocity commitments in outsourced scenarios rarely work out as cost pressures & customer acquisition driven commitments preclude granting true autonomy to the teams. Thus, a self-correcting mechanism is sacrificed at the altar of Croesus and becomes self-delusional.
  • The QA seeded into an agile team most often does not have a say in the team commitments, nor has the time to understand the big picture and plan for adequate tests in a large-scale scrum
  • Typically, the new-age testing neglects the UI, mandating the early testing philosophy at the service layer. More often than not, there are issues with the services working with the UI or other services which need focus – resulting in organisations setting up an e2e testing team.

So, testers will be out of a job soon?

Will testing become obsolete? Will testers get replaced by bots? Or by developers?

I would think not.

It is very clear that the testing mind-set cannot be replicated or trained in.  It is a very different thought process required to break a system is very different from the one required create one.

Similarly, testers should not aspire to become developers, in my opinion.  Nor is becoming an SDET. because it gives a path to transform into a developer, the right choice.   Therefore, the much touted SDET role will be ineffective if the testing mind-set is weak.

A good tester should aspire to becoming a great tester. She  should acquire coding skills only as a means towards improving their testing.   The new age QA professional should be courageous and be able to provide continuous feedback on product quality, communicate effectively and work towards the team goals.

Yes, the role of the testing profession will definitely change. But will it become obsolete? No! Because good testers are harder to find than good developers!