During these challenging economic times, there is a dramatic increase in the desire for quality assurance (QA) professionals to understand better where the software testing industry as a whole is heading and how testing processes and the technology involved will most likely change. There is no doubt that in coming years, test and quality professionals and development organisations will be under ever-increasing pressure to test better and test faster. It will require software leaders to change the way they think about the quality professionals role, test technologies and processes.
A new quality consciousness
Today, there is a high visibility of quality, or the lack thereof, in the public and a higher consciousness for it. This starts to drive a much higher need for alignment of business needs and engineering needs from the start. Obviously, it will have an impact on the testing approach. In the past, we have seen engineering-heavy approaches where not much outside of the immediate code development activities were considered from a quality perspective. Now, we start to see an emerging approach of a risk-based/quality-conscious view, which takes into account additional parameters. Business begins to drive quality requirements more directly through a stronger connectivity and traceability between requirements, developed features and required tests. With this comes a stronger demand to deliver increasing value in highly specialist skill areas, such as test automation, performance testing and security testing. It drives the need for more skilled QA professionals that know how to collaborate and build more advanced and larger test sets.
Expanding the skill set
There are other drivers, as well. Anyone who has been involved in agile projects will quickly realise that traditional testing approaches will not work particularly well here. One of the first thing agile teams will recognise is that test automation will be indispensable in environments where short sprint cycles are becoming a key element of the development strategy. This means there will not only be a much stronger demand for test tools that can provide a high degree of automation, but also a need for highly skilled and more technically competent testers.
The days of purely manual testing or simple click testing tools that required little or no technical knowledge from a tester are definitely over. Even accomplished testers must expand their skill set to include virtues like strong collaboration capabilities as cultural aspects become much more important. It will be necessary to adapt to agile development practices and become a member of the team as the Dev/Test barrier gets removed. Most importantly, and many a tester will not like this perspective, it will become important to develop programming skills and get involved in test conception from the beginning.
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