Had fun answering these questions on the “Future of Software Testing” for my pals at QASymphony. You can get the ebook HERE – Enjoy!
The future of software testing is…hard. Doing testing right is very hard. It’s an ambiguous, unchartered journey into a sea of bias and experimentation, but as the famous movie quote goes, “the hard is what makes it great.”
This future will be characterized by…a continued emphasis on shorter delivery times and increased automation in test cycles, which will help further the current trend of testers needing technical and coding skills. Over the long term, as strategy and risk management become increasingly important, I believe design and system thinking combined with great testing skills will be in demand.
The trend to avoid is…the idea of “operational test management,” which has done more to damage the testing industry than any other trend. Offshoring and the commoditization of testing has given rise to “managers of managers” and “scorecard based management,” which removes test management from its primary role of focusing on information about business risk. The popularity of agile practices and the need for co-located teams, has highlighted the inefficiency of this approach, and I think we’ll only see a downward trend in “Test Centers of Excellence.”
Software testing has already changed dramatically due to…the increasing demand for more technical testers due to the perception that testers need to “code,” and I don’t see that ending anytime soon. Having been in the business for a while, in my opinion this has been around for a long time, and what I think we’re seeing now is a market correction in operational models. Testing has been subjected to extreme outsourcing and offshoring to take advantage of the economics of labor arbitrage. Unfortunately, that model does not support being nimble and efficient in getting value to your business, so in my opinion, that approach is on its way out.
The biggest challenge to embracing these changes will be…separating the signal from the noise. There are a lot of “thought leaders” or “experts” who too often have views biased toward very specific practices limited to certain contexts and are given far too much weight. I believe you should research, question and experiment in your own ways and draw conclusions based on that evidence. Of course you should draw on the practical experiences and advice of seasoned professionals, but don’t take what you hear as unquestionable fact.
One piece of advice for testers in the future is to…remember that certain skills are future-proof. In some ways, the best testing skills haven’t changed that much over the years. Critical thinking, communication and interactional expertise are vital to being valuable to your business and managing risk. I would never discourage anyone from learning something new, so being able to code, being current with tools/approaches and attending conferences/meetups are all crucial to staying marketable. But being able to communicate risks to your business never goes out of style.