The other day, a good friend of Testuff told us about his 22-year-old son (we’ll call him “John”).
John is very bright and a quick study. But fresh out of school, he has almost no work experience yet.
Nonetheless, he was recently hired as a QA professional for a new startup. John wouldn’t be joining a team of other testers – it would just be him. And he’d be responsible for designing and maintaining all of the testing infrastructure, including:
- Choosing, writing, and running tests.
- Reporting found bugs and defects.
- Working closely with developers.
Obviously, we’re all happy for John. But this story highlights a common trend in the IT world where companies still regard quality assurance as inferior work. Whereas developers are recruited from the best schools (and rival firms), software testers can be anyone off the street.
No doubt that John will rise up to the challenge. And in time, he could blossom into an outstanding QA professional. But the startup he’s joining will soon understand the importance of software testing – especially as John practices, learns, and makes mistakes all on their dime.
Why Are Software Testers Considered 2nd Class Team Members?
As mentioned before, the above scenario happens all too often. Software testing is seen as an add-on. And this trend isn’t limited to developers and IT managers. Even those who work in QA management sometimes fall into this trap.
And there are several reasons why this “myth” persists:
- Quality assurance isn’t as sexy as development. But as covered in a previous post, software testers don’t do it for the glory.
- Testing doesn’t have a well-defined career track, complete with college-level training. We’ve also covered this in a previous post.
- Developers sometimes test their own work, which reduces the need to have standalone QA professionals on the team. However, this approach creates numerous problems – as outlined here.
- Automation and artificial intelligence have also shifted the focus away from experienced professionals. But truly successful testing requires problem-solving, creativity, and outside-the-box thinking – all of which involve the human touch.
- Software testers are often handicapped due to insufficient resources. Worse still, they’re not always included during initial planning sessions – another major “no-no”.
Elevating Software Testers to Their Rightful Place
For more than a decade, we’ve actively campaigned to help change people’s attitudes about quality assurance. And we’ve actually made some progress. But there’s still a long way to go since many in the industry continue clinging to the old way of thinking.
And this is a big mistake.
Adding new bells and features can create a ton of positive buzz. And this is the part that excites end-users (which is why developers get so much of the glory).
But nothing destroys goodwill faster than glitchy builds. And with the added threat of cyberattacks and breaches, it’s impossible for software companies to thrive without a solid team of QA professionals to help find bugs and identify vulnerabilities.
Moreover, finding quality testers will actually become harder moving forward – not easier.
According to a TechWell survey – State of the Software Testing Profession (2017 – 2018) – the biggest trend over the next few years will be the growing “need for testers to become more technical” (35%). Respondents also highlighted the importance of expertise – especially with regards to Agile testing, mobile and embedded systems, and business acumen.
This isn’t to say that “experience” matters more than anything else. In fact, we’ve written an article that explores how bringing on younger guys (like John) can add depth and perspective. The entire team benefits when you have a diversity of views and opinions.
However, those benefits only emerge when everyone on the team approaches each new project with the right attitude. Whether experienced or not, QA professionals should be elevated to their rightful place within the organization. And they should be provided with the resources to continue training, networking, and growing.
Software testers responsibility
We must not forget that it is also our – software testers – responsibility to elevate our profession to its deserved place. Being a true professional takes time and effort, requires proper education (ongoing and updated) and understanding of what really is software testing about.
If testers do not take their work and professional seriously, why would others…
If you have ideas for how to change attitudes more quickly, we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.