Controversial question here for a Friday, but I'm hearing this topic being discussed widely on Twitter and at conferences. There is no doubt our roles are changing, but how drastic will this change be?

 

Does the future of Software development still have the role of a tester?

 

Will we be needed in the same sense we are now? (i.e. specific role of a tester in a team)

Will the testing be done by business users and developers?

Will testing be done during the specification stage?

Will we need to code to have a safe future?

Will we need to work in agile to have a future?

How will our critical thinking be used in the future?

Will we be replaced by machines?

What does the future look like for you?

 

Oooh - you know you want to rant. What are your thoughts?

Rob..

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I think that the testing is a discipline that comes from years and years, and it will be always be there, because the work of the tester is always evolving, in the early years the tester only tested the programs in order to find bugs, nowadays we do a lot more than that, maybe we invented the automation process, but as a tester i know that automation can find several bugs, but there are bugs that the automation cannot find, for example, as easy and dummy as it looks, a web page for Arabia cannot contain the color yellow, because the culture (as far as i know...) prohibits that color...

 

Testers labor exist years ago, and it will be existing, because is not just finding bugs, is helping reach more Quality in the development of Software (in our case...)

Wow...I would like to see the reference for that! Although the color orange is not found in the flags of any Arab nation (yellow has been used throughout history), I am not sure that there is some Arabian rule against the color orange (or yellow as you infer).

Also, I hate to burst your bubble, but an automated test (oracle) to programmatically detect a particular color in an image (of a web page using your example) is not especially difficult.

I'm watching a couple of the videos from GTAC at the moment so that I can see where all this outcry is coming from.

I think it has peaked now though - #LifeOfBrianTheTester tweets started appearing so as soon as Monty Python quotes are used then you know it's over :)

 

From one of the keynotes it seems the future does have testers in it, we just have a name change to be "righters"

AFAIK those GTAC videos are indeed the source for this outcry.

Companies like Google ("like" meaning products and aptitude, not size or dominance) can let themselves leave testing for their customers, release buggy code or drop unsuccessful projects.

I don't know how is this possible for companies that actually sell their product for real money, especially when hardware is involved- will you accept a smartphone with defective hardware ? will you accept a buggy carrier grade router?

In the video I saw, the presenter made it sound like testers don't have any meaningful work to do now. It's all about the code (which the developers write) so testing, finding defects and any testing artefacts/documents are not important. So, if you want to do meaningful work, you should quit as a tester.

Now, I agree that at the end of the day, it's the code (ie. the app) that counts, but like Rsf said, there are some apps which can't be shipped out knowing they're untested and likely to be buggy.

As testers, we might need to change our roles to varying degrees over the coming years, that's life. But, as long as users need reliable software, testers will be needed.

My personal future almost certainly has testers in it, since I only work for companies where my skills are valued.

 

Q: Will we be needed in the same sense we are now? (i.e. specific role of a tester in a team)

A: The specifics will almost certainly change, as they have since I've been in this profession.  The specifics will be different in every company, and will almost certainly not be predictable.

 

Q: Will the testing be done by business users and developers?

A: No more than testing is done now by business users and developers.

 

Q: Will testing be done during the specification stage?

A: No more than testing is done now during the specification stage.  (Is there actually a "specification stage"?)

 

Q: Will we need to code to have a safe future?

A: Depends on what "safe" means to you.  In some companies, you already need to code.  In others, not.

 

Q: Will we need to work in agile to have a future?

A: No. There will never be a time when every company always uses Agile.

 

Q: How will our critical thinking be used in the future?

A: Hard to say.  Sadly (for me at least), I see a diminished emphasis on critical thinking in recent years.  That may continue to diminish - but hopefully not in any company where I have influence.

 

Q: Will we be replaced by machines?

A: No.  We will continue to be augmented by machines, just as all labor is.

 

Q: What does the future look like for you?

A: For me, the future's so bright I gotta wear shades!

Will we be needed in the same sense we are now? (i.e. specific role of a tester in a team)

  • Unless you want developers to stop coding to test, yes.  As long as there are regulations that require segregation of duties and environments, yes.  As long as there are tools that require a specific skill set, yes.

Will the testing be done by business users and developers?

  • Yes, of course.  Testing isn't restricted to a 'testing' role.  Developers, BAs, users, managers and architects should be a part of the overall test strategy.  I disagree with Joe's answer slightly, though.  As vendors get better at pushing business rules and logic up and bridging the gap between end users and technology, I do see them playing a larger role in testing.  We're already seeing how BREs are being managed, developed and tested by power users for many of our clients.

Will testing be done during the specification stage?

  • I don't know what you mean by 'specification stage'.  I'll assume you mean requirements gathering.  Do you consider peer reviews a test?  I certainly do and based on that, yes, it will continue and I think we'll see improvements in that area as the gap lessens between those who understand the business rules and IT.

Will we need to code to have a safe future?

  • I don't think we 'need' it.  I am usually a better tester when it's a product or area I am familiar with so in that regard, if you're testing code, I believe a strong foundation in coding will help you identify potential risks and give you the ability to design tests to check those areas.  Testing isn't just about code anymore.  Testers should have an understanding of architecture, databases, deployment tools, reporting systems, etc.

Will we need to work in agile to have a future?

  • No, intelligent people will continue to modify methodologies and practices to meet their needs.

How will our critical thinking be used in the future?

  • ???  I don't see this as a unique skill for testers.  Everyone engaged in the product is capable of and should be using this.  Can you elaborate?

Will we be replaced by machines?

  • Some of us should be

What does the future look like for you?

  • I am lucky enough to work for a company that not only encourages, but rewards personal development.  I don't see a big change any time soon especially in regards to testing as we know it going away.  I do think that testers who think they're special and who think they can't be replaced should probably grab another cup of coffee and wake up.  Developers said the same thing 10-15 years ago and now look how many of their jobs are being done by offshore people with less training.  We shouldn't be blinded to the fact that many corporations favor cutting costs over quality and should constantly be looking at ways to do what we do more efficiently.

My personal view is that all team members should strive to "shorten the loop" - push feedback for solutions as early as possible in the process. As one example, you get the agile team structures with integrated testing in development. In other words, we should all be in the business of eventually putting ourselves (as a "test" industry) out of business.

In practical terms, that would mean pushing critical thinking about failure scenarios and alternate failure path testing into the user needs, requirement development, and software development areas. You can see that type of success in the areas of security and performance, where well built systems have those capabilities designed-in instead of tested-in. Computer assisted design will probably play a major role in that for the future.

Based on that standard, however, I am sorry to say that my vision will probably fail and we will have nice, steady jobs for the foreseeable future.

Hmm....

 

Does the future of Software development still have the role of a tester?

 

Abso-freakin'-lutely!  The title may change, but we'll still be there.

 

Will we be needed in the same sense we are now? (i.e. specific role of a tester in a team)

 

Possibly.  What do I think will change is the continuation of how the role has been evolving/de-evolving over the last few years.  I think the branching off of testers either taking the developer track or the product management track will continue, but I don't know that you'll continue to see Quality Assurance as a seperate entity in and of itself for most companies.  I think what you will see is increased specialization in the field:  fewer jack of all trades testers and more 'developers in test,' 'automation engineers,' and 'quality analysts.'

 

Will the testing be done by business users and developers?

 

Some will, just as it is now.  Quality isn't just the responsibility of one individual or one team.  All stakeholders are invested in quality to some extent, and I guess it really depends on what your definition of 'testing' is!


Will testing be done during the specification stage?

 

How are you defining 'specfication stage?'

 

Will we need to code to have a safe future?

 

If you mean will testers need to know how to write code to have a safe future - I think anything a tester can do to advance her skill set will always benefit her - and her team! -  in the long run.  


Will we need to work in agile to have a future?

 

I think Agile will evolve and eventually be replaced by <insert buzzword here> in the future.  Right now, Agile's the flavor of the month.  A few years ago, it was RUP.  Before that CMMI.  Always be flexible is my motto.


How will our critical thinking be used in the future?

 

I'm going to echo something Joe S. said in his response.  Critical thinking is a lost art, at least, here in the states.  People feel entitled simply because they exist.  It seems like less experienced developers and testers want to rely on mock objects and simplified checklists, and they only want to stick to those and not explore *outside* of the basic functionality they're working on.  People are forgetting when to look for the forest outside the tree in front of them.  I hope this is a passing fancy and not the road we're on for the future.

 

Will we be replaced by machines?

 

Depends.  Are the machines more charming or better looking than me?  ;)


What does the future look like for you?

 

I will run as long as my legs can carry me, sing as long as my voice holds out, and always, always be willing to keep learning.  As long as I keep that philosophy in the back of my mind and in my heart, I'd say my future looks pretty solid.

 

Critical thinking is a lost art, at least, here in the states.  People feel entitled simply because they exist.  It seems like less experienced developers and testers want to rely on mock objects and simplified checklists, and they only want to stick to those and not explore *outside* of the basic functionality they're working on.  People are forgetting when to look for the forest outside the tree in front of them.  I hope this is a passing fancy and not the road we're on for the future.

 

I think people in general do what they are directed (and paid) to do.  If employers truly valued critical thinking, then testers and developers would spend more time doing it.  But when employers look for lowest-cost, quickest-to-the-schedule alternatives, and by-the-script testing, it sure seems to me that that their actions demonstrate how little they value thinking (critical or otherwise).

 

Fortunately, not all employers are like this.  Sadly, many are.  I'm not sure I see such short-term thinking changing in the near future.

I think you're exactly right.  For the business, it's about the bottom line.  Maybe that explains the continued allure of automated testing.

 

(Sigh...says the test automation engineer in a cynical tone...)

As one of the 'winder uppers' I better come clean. I'll point you at some slides I've put together and presented at the TMF a couple of weeks ago. The slides kind of speak for themselves but...

I think the improving developer 'testing' role (TDD/BDD and continuous integration with automated test...) encroaches. It improves the software coming to testers and removes much of the need for regression test. It reduces the burdern on and need for testers.

The certification 'wave' has created a lot of certified but unskilled testers. They'll be first to go (I hope). But we have to assume because the higher ups (who are probably ex-developers) look at test as an opportunity to save money - they will wielde the axe.

Certification has also commoditised the field. Commodities compete on price alone - so companies will seek the cheapest option. i.e. outsourced/offshored.

Agile has shown that faster feedback loops and proximity to stakeholders works. Not only do the users define - they can also test. Another salami slice off the role of testers.

So my advice is: excel at being a 'middle of the road tester' or specialise or get out of testing. the demand for your services is likely to drop. Massive generalisation - but most market predictions are.

I make some predictions in the sldies and suggest some career paths for the senior folk among you. there are always opportunities and good ones too.

The slides for the session I ran at the TMF on 26th are here: http://www.slideshare.net/PaulGerrard/rethinking-the-role-of-testers

 

Best wishes,

Paul.

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