Last week I ran into an old colleague of mine who quit his job. He was a developer and is going to study in the States now that the recession is here.
We got talking about QA and he said that during times of crisis companies would rather layoff QA than developers. His claim was that developers who have an intimate knowledge of the code are harder to replace than testers with knowledge of the system. I responded to him that the learning curve for a new expert tester in a company may be just as long and difficult as an expert developer.
However, I couldn't help but wonder, is it true? Is intimate knowledge of the software code more difficult to achieve than intimate knowledge of the compiled software? In these times of crisis, are companies letting go of QA personnel before they fire developers? Is that the right move?
This discussion is turning out to be very interesting indeed.
Now the question should be how do you explain/show your worth (monetary value) to the powers that be. How do you show the value (money impacts) of Testing. And this point can be made at any time.
I agree that it is easier for the management to see programmers and sales people adding monetary value. But that is only in the narrow sense of adding value. As Michael Bolton put it, "testers defend the value that's there", in the strict monetary sense. This is not a worthless activity, yet I do agree that it may not receive the credit that it deserves with immature management. Read Michael Bolton's blog post on how testers can add value (in the monetary sense).
However, testers can also add value (in the broader sense) to the team. Read my comments and Michael's reply on that same post in his blog. Then again, this may still be difficult for immature management to realize, if they are strictly looking to quantify the value. Like Michael says, "there are lots of things in the world that we value in qualitative ways." If you read all my replies in this thread, you will notice I mention what qualitative values a tester can contribute.
I myself have gone through a couple of company downsizing (fortunately not as many as you have). Once in a Japanese multinational company and recently in a US multinational company. In my experience most of my testers and I have survived while many of our programmer peers did not. I mostly credit that to our ability to convince management of the kind of value we added and our diverse skills. Like Pradeep mentions, you yourself admit to one of your unique situations, which also deserve credit.
Decisions such as these depend on the kind of company we work for. I do not work for employers that do not value my testing skills and my contributions. I would advice other testers to do the same. Of course, I also do my part in proving our worth to the management. Thanks.
Developers know how the product was built.... testers know how the program works. Not the same thing and that information comes from two different mind sets. If your reputation in the market place is based on producing a quality product, I dont think one person is really more important than the other.
However, everything is out the window when the bean counters come into play. There is truth to the statement "no coders no product".... however the quality of your product WILL suffer without testers.
Is it the right move...? I dont know as circumstances vary. While it may be the right move for some, it may prove to be the wrong one for others.