Is software testing as a profession underrated?

I came across an interesting article on LinkedIn the other day – not that this is unusual, but it made me stop and click through a blog post, by Claire Goss, where she questions whether testers are underrated. I read it thoroughly as it’s a subject that I feel strongly about, and it highlights the issues testers face today.

In January I picked out similar themes for my article “My Hope for Testing in 2018“. But, here we are, in September, and nothing much has changed. Yes, there are a number of us who are calling out, saying “software testing is not just about writing automated tests” and seeing if testers could be replaced by machines, but are we all doing this? Are we doing enough?

There are still so many job ads that place automation above everything else, yet in a talk I gave at the National Software Testing Conference in London, back in May, I shared the skills that testers feel hold importance – and automation came far behind the analytical and people skills required. Check out my presentation:

Nevertheless, as Claire puts it so well, testers talk to people, run workshops, ask questions, put themselves in the position of an end user and think about the product. Oh, and yes, they plan the tests that need to be run, think about functional tests, performance and security tests, then actually test the software – whether manually or using a tool, raise defects, coordinate user testing sessions… the list goes on.

She also pinpointed some good ideas as to how to get past testers being underrated, but I think it probably goes beyond individual testers – it’s testing as a profession.

If we are to make any headway and really show the worth that testing brings in organisations, then anyone who is a tester, or works with testers, needs to showcase the tasks that are happening on a daily basis. As a Test Manager or Project Manager, I can do my bit to encourage testers to speak out, help give a platform to the work they are doing, but every tester needs to be willing to speak out where they can.

This is not easy – some people hate speaking in front of others, but small groups might be an idea to spread the word in a more informal format to 2 or 3 people at a time.
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Testers may not have sympathetic managers who understand what testing is – and again, this is a tough situation. It is worth looking for an opportunity to discuss and demonstrate the work that is being done, maybe in a 1-2-1 meeting. And this is just thinking about showcasing within the workplace. What about outside in the wider industry?

We have to own this problem and recognise that more time should be spent outside of testing groups. Testers are great at sharing with fellow testers and attending testing conferences, but it makes things very insular. It’s time to spread the knowledge elsewhere, by attending and speaking at other conferences, and I’m starting to see a move towards this, but there’s a long way to go.

Written by Steve Watson, Project Manager, Reed Business Information

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