The future of testing will be about testers working together with developers and enabling them to deliver better quality software.
Independence of thought will still be possible, but it won’t be about waiting for code to arrive and drawing attention when the code doesn’t work. Instead, it will be about getting involved in the development lifecycle, which is something Agile is encouraging as much as possible, and stopping the defects at the source.
Underlying this is a need for testing and testers to carry it out, and for testers to have a different mindset. I.e. not defect finders but defect stoppers. Even if you somehow manage to reach a point where you are able to deliver a perfect product, you still need to do that final check before it goes out to the client.
Car manufacturers learned many years ago that quality assurance through the entire manufacture process, over waiting for a car to be built before it is tested, saves vast amounts of money. Even so, there’s still one final test, namely the test drive before the car leaves the factory.
Two or three decades ago, we started this “bug hunt” process that we’re still kind of stuck in today. Not to say it has no relevance now, because the software isn’t always in such a good state when it arrives for testing.
The difference is that over time testing won’t be about finding defects. Instead, it will be about reassuring the stakeholders that the application does what it’s supposed to do.
The narrowing gap
The future of testing is exciting, but it will require a change of mentality. It will also require a change in the way we communicate.
We still have a tendency to sometimes talk with developers as if they are intentionally developing unfinished products. What we don’t try to do is to work together and see how we can make it better.
Historically, testing has taken place after development. However, now we’re seeing a shift where testing is increasingly helping to drive development.
A good example of this is the SDET (Software Development Engineer in Test) role, where developers are moving into a testing role, and visa versa. Five years ago you’d never have heard of that.
Another thing driving change is what we we like to call “Agile test leadership”. It has similarities to the traditional Quality Manager role, who is a servant-leader type who oversees many projects found at large-scale Agile companies.
The common concern with these types of projects is whether they work well together. Each project may work brilliantly in isolation, but if they don’t connect when they finish, you’re no better off than when you started. So it’s about bringing it all together by supporting the individuals working on the project.
In Agile, you sometimes hear about people burning out from running from one Scrum to the next without having a break. That’s when you need a different, more efficient type of leadership that empathises with the individual working on a project to get the most out of them.
Importance of training
I expect testing certification to be more competency-based and not necessarily about filling out a multiple-choice paper in one hour. This means it will be more practical, and in turn, more reliable to the people who look at recruiting and using testers.
It’s great if someone understands the basics of testing with the ISTQB Foundation Certificate, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are a tester at that point. If you have a more competency-based and practical syllabus and exam, it will enable the profession to grow and the customers of testing will have improved trust in what they are getting.
While we still may be a while from practical-based training, the importance of getting certified is not diminished. In fact, it’s now more important than ever to have the right credentials to get a start in the testing industry and stand out from the crowd.
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