We see it all the time – people going back to school for continued training, extra degrees, and new workshops. The trend has become especially pronounced in this economy. With fewer job opportunities, people must work harder to distinguish themselves in a market that’s becoming more competitive every day.

Some employees take it upon themselves to acquire the extra training they need. But in many cases, companies will also fully or partially foot the bill, provided that you can demonstrate a very clear need for the training. And of course, there are often caveats that stipulate you must stay on for a pre-determined amount of time to “recoup” the expense. That’s fair.

Software Test Management Receives the Short End of the Training Stick

In software development, I’ve seen this trend of company sponsored re-training quite a lot – although, the budgets tend to favor actual developers (i.e. programmers). This tendency is not only unjust, but it’s also sometimes against the best interests of the company.

It’s worth pointing out that regardless of whether or not your boss agrees to re-training, you should still pursue continued education. The primary goal should always be to become more proficient with software QA application testing tools and supportive methodologies. This makes you more marketable, employable, and indispensable (see my earlier post on the importance of continued software test management training).

The secondary goal is to have someone else pay for that training whenever possible.

So how do we accomplish this?

Well, like I said, it can be pretty difficult. Companies are cutting budgets, and they apply their limited discretionary spending wherever they feel it will have the most impact. The basic logic behind re-training programmers makes a lot of sense:

  • Programmers “write” the software
  • The company sells the software
  • The company should give the writers better tools and training

Trying to pitch additional spending for better testing is sometimes a hard sell.

The process is even more difficult if you’re already very good at what you do, and thus, consistently help produce error-free software. The better you are at your job, the less urgent your request becomes since there’s no clear and present danger. Earthquake insurance makes a lot of sense in California, but it’s deemed a waste of money in places like Maine or Washington, DC, despite the fact that both have had earthquakes in the past 18 months.

Making the Argument for Software Test Management Training

There’s no magic formula here. Each boss is different. Each company is different. But below are some strategies to help you position your case:

  1. Point out how debugging accounts for 80% of software development costs (a fact covered in earlier posts). Better software QA application testing tools and training will help drive down these costs, and thus, offset any investment in your education.
  2. You already keep logs of the bugs you’ve found over the years (or at least you should – you absolutely should). But maybe your boss isn’t aware of the impact you have. He or she only sees the clean software that ultimately comes out. Share your logs and clearly demonstrate the work, time, and expense that go into producing quality software.
  3. Solicit the help of your programming team and have them back you up. You make their jobs easier (or perhaps harder, but in a good way). If they argue the case on your behalf, you could get some mileage there.
  4. Highlight new software QA application testing tools and methodologies that you “know” will make you a better overall tester. You’d like to apply these new resources, but alas, you don’t have the training. Again, you must be able to clearly document the direct benefit to the company.
  5. Look for ways to offset the expense of your training. For example, by switching to SaaS software application testing tools, your company saves money (immediately) on servers, downtime, in-house training, and on-site maintenance (topics covered extensively here and here). With a portion of those savings, you’d like to finance your training.
  6. Shameless plug here – but refer them to our Test Management Blog. We’ve pretty adamant proponents of continued training, and our posts over the past few months have highlighted the importance of having the right tools, skills, and resources for the job.

Like I said, there’s no magic formula. But try every one of the above strategies until you get the answer you want. Granted, if your company doesn’t have a history of paying for training (for anyone, including programmers, accountants, etc.), you can’t always expect results. But if you don’t at least ask, you’ll never know.

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