Are you new to the world of Software testing? If yes, then here are a few questions that you may come across during your journey to become a software tester. In this article, we will also try to bust some of the myths of software testing. We will also guide you on the career options in software testing. Let’s see what all we are going to cover in this article:-
- Who does software testing?
- When to start testing?
- When to stop testing?
- Software Testing – Myths
- What exactly does a software tester do?
- Guidelines for new testers
- Software Testing as a Career Path
Who does Software Testing?
Quality is nothing but the “degree of excellence.” High-quality software aims to satisfy the user’s requirements. The software is tested at each level of its development to ensure its quality. Large IT firms assemble a team which takes the complete responsibility to verify the developed software/product in the context of the given client requirements. A team member who focuses on testing software is essentially called Software Tester. Based on the Skillset, Company Structure and the Role a Software Tester can be named as a
- Software Tester
- Quality Assurance Engineer
- QA Analyst
- QA Engineer
- Quality Assurance Lead/ Test Lead
- QA Project Lead/ QA Manager
- UAT Tester
Even though we have a testing team, the developer does the Unit testing, and the Product Owner also performs the Acceptance testing these days. Remember – Quality is joint ownership of everyone working on the team!
When to start testing?
Testing activity ought to begin from the start of the project. The earlier it starts, the more beneficial it proves in terms of Quality, Risk, Cost, and Time. In a Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) testing process is often started from the requirements gathering phase and lasts until the deployment of the software. However, it depends on the Software Development Model that the project uses.
For example, in the traditional Waterfall model, formal testing starts at the Testing phase, but in an Incremental Model, testing happens in every iteration.
In the agile development model, testing is carried out through the development phase. Testing happens in different forms at each phase of SDLC. For example, design review in the design phase and unit testing in the coding phase.
When to stop testing?
It cannot be a straightforward question to answer, “when do we stop testing, now or later?”.
Nowadays, software products/applications are complicated and constitute multiple units. These software products usually need a compatible inter-operable environment to run; therefore, complete testing can never happen. Some of the common factors which can be considered as essential factors to stop the testing process are:
- When deadlines meet (release deadlines, testing deadlines, etc.)
- On completion of test case execution with a certain passing percentage
- When the test budget depleted
- Completion of Functional and code coverage to a specific point
- When the bug rate drops below a certain level, and no high priority bugs get identified
- At the end of the beta or alpha testing period
- When management decides to stop the testing
Software Testing – Myths
Like any other domain of the IT sector, software testing also has some myths around. Some of these fallacies are due to inexperience. & some arise from overconfidence. Either way, the list of myths is long, but below are some of the biggest ones around.
- Myth: Testers get involved in the project after the development finishes
- Reality: This was true during the waterfall model. However, it’s not right in the current agile ways of testing. If tester gets involved at a later stage, it may cause a significant risk to the quality of the product and will negatively affect the schedule of the deliverable. Testers need to be involved from the start as they need to understand the requirements, analyze gaps, prepare their deliverables, plan, and execute test cases.
- Myth: Testing is just a job of documentation and making spreadsheets
- Reality: As we all know that the documentation is a job of everyone working on a project. A concise, complete, and unambiguous document gives the foundation and historical evidence about the project. However, for testing, documentation (test plan, test cases, etc.) is one of the most important pieces of fact. Because the deliverable is not a program or module, but it is an assured quality that takes a solid shape through documentation and other artifacts. But testing is not just the documentation. It requires excellent analytical skills, and patience to find defects. In the current world, a tester is also good at coding as he is required to do automation.
- Myth: Testing is a low pay scale job
- Reality: To say that being a tester is the only reason why you will get lesser pay, it’s not true. The truth is that you get paid based on your knowledge, experience, and abilities. Tester’s job has evolved over the years, and it’s no more just a functional validation. Today’s tester will do automation, performance testing, create CI/CD builds, etc. These are all niche skills and hence paid quite highly.
- Myth: The testing process is too expensive.
- Reality: There is a motto, “pay less for testing throughout software development or pay a lot for maintenance or correction later.” Testing is the most integral part of any development. Be it, Software development, or Industrial development. If you have not tested the product that you have created, there will be no guarantees that the product will work as expected when the customer uses it. Software Testing is equally essential to Software Development. With the emergence of agile methodology, testing is done along with development, and hence, defects surface much early. It has resulted in a lower cost to fix defects. Additionally, with automation in place, the overall time spent on testing has decreased. Which, in turn, has resulted in lower costs as well.
- Myth: Complete Testing is Possible
- Reality: Although the testing team has tested all the possible paths but ensuring that there will never be any bug is never possible. There could be some possibilities that the test team or the client never spot, during the software development life cycle. And, when they execute, they might cause a bug.
What exactly does a software tester do?
The main motive of a tester is to expose bugs in a software product and ensure that the program meets the program specification. In addition to that, the tester also creates test cases, generate scripts, and execute test cases. They also run the test scripts and procedures, analyze and evaluate results after completion of various systems, integration, and regression testing based on predefined standards. They are also responsible for:
- Speed up development procedure by distinguishing and eliminating bugs at an early stage (e.g., specifications stage)
- Minimize the amount of the organization’s risk
- Encourage the value and quality of the software product
- Assure significant launch of the software product, save time, money, and eminence of the company by discovering bugs and errors at an early stage before failures occur in production or the system.
- Encourage continuous improvement
- Automate test cases that are regression candidates.
- In some organizations, testers are also responsible for creating builds and deployments.
Guidelines for new testers
- It is not possible to test a program thoroughly: Because the number of possible inputs, outputs that can enter into the system is enormous. Additionally, the specification is subjective to frequent changes, and a large number of paths and possibilities are also present. However, there are test techniques and best practices that will ensure that we get maximum coverage in minimal effort.
- A tester can’t guarantee 100 % quality: No tester can test every aspect. The tester fails upon inaccurately reporting a defect that has occurred.
- Target environment and supposed end-user: Analyzing and testing the application in the environment that users will use, is one of the significant factors to consider. The consideration of a supportive environment for the application is a single-user system, or a multi-user system is vital for demonstrating the ability and flexibility of the system. For example, we can consider the error case of Disney’s Lion King. Disney Company released its first multimedia CD-ROM game for children. Some customers complained that they were unable to get the software to work. It was because the software was not compatible with a different operating system.
- Use the system as a customer: Try to use the system as an end-user and analyze the number of problems that surface. As you can see, there is not any predefined procedure involved. Doing this can genuinely cause the system to go through several unexpected tests that an actual user could perform.
- Building reliability and credibility: Credibility is like quality that includes reliability, knowledge, consistency, reputation, trust, attitude, and attention to detail. It cannot be built instantly but should be developed over time and offers spotlight and voice to the testers in the organization. To be trustworthy, you need to identify your strengths and weaknesses, consistent with learnings, build good relations, be willing to admit mistakes, reassess, and adjust.
- Testing is not assuming: Thumb rule for testing is test what you can see and observe. Everything that can be executed and performed should undergo testing.
- Research and review competitive products: Reviewing various products of the same kind and observing their behavior and functionality will help you design different test cases. It can help to identify and understand the strengths and weaknesses of your application. It will add up to the quality and suggest new features and enhancements to your product.
- Follow predefined standards and procedures: As a tester, you need to conform to the various standards and guidelines set by the international organizations. These standards provide guidelines for documentation, reporting hierarchy, coding, testing, reporting bugs, using automated tools, etc.
Software Testing as a Career Path
It is the era of digitization; in every domain, be it education, banking healthcare, marketing, etc. everyone is going digital. They all strive for a high-quality product and best online services. When we talk about digitization, many options come in mind for software products and services, but the only thing that matters is quality. And when there is the talk of quality, testing comes into the big picture. So software testing is very much in demand to satisfy this growing need.
There are various streams that you can take within the software testing space. Some of these are :
- Functional Testers – These are testers who would test the application manually. These are generally domain experts. E.g., Banking, Retail, Automobile, etc. Domain expertise helps them to design better test scenarios and ensures adequate testing of an application. Usually, each domain has a dedicated group of testers who work on projects within the same domain, so based on your interest, you can choose one of them.
- Automation Testers – With the ever-increasing demand to reduce time to market, automation has become essential to testing services. Automation can be web automation, mobile App automation, or API automation. Within these also, there are tool variations. E.g., for Web automation, you can use Selenium, QTP, Protractor, etc. These possibilities open up multiple career options within the automation space.
Apart from these, there are options for Performance and Security testing.
So as we can see, there is no shortage of career options in software testing. Your thorough interest and dedication to learn is the only requirement.
Skills of a tester:
- Analytical skills: A good tester should always apply the divide and conquer approach in solving a problem. They can break complex software into smaller units to gain a better understanding of the functionality of the system.
- Communication skills: The testing documents that the tester creates, such as test cases, test plans, test strategies, bug reports, etc. should be easy to read and understand. So good verbal and written communication skill is an essential requirement for a good tester.
- Time Management & Organization Skills: Although testing is not an easy process, it needs time and patience. Retesting and regression testing repeatedly happen, so a software tester must efficiently manage workload. Meantime, it is highly productive for the organization.
- Great Attitude: A testers should very well realize that nothing is 100% perfect; they too can make mistakes. To avoid such circumstances, they should organize well. They should double-check their findings to keep all the checklists, use files, facts, and supporting documents updated.
- Knowledge of the technology: Knowledge of technology in which the application development happens gives an added advantage to any tester, to understand any application. It helps to design better and efficient test cases. Technology knowledge will enable a tester to know what it supports and what it doesn’t, so concentrating on these, they can smoothly perform a variety of tests on the application.