A job better than testing…

It was a warm and humid afternoon in my University campus almost 10 years ago, when I told my professor on getting a new job for which I was very excited. The professor was happy to know that I’ll work for a multi-national and asked “my dear student, what is going to be your title?” “Software Tester, sir” I replied and the expressions of my professor changed and with a concerned feelings, he said “Oh ok. May you get some good job soon.” Ten years since we had this talk and I wonder what a better job than testing is.

One thing which I can understand is that a general impression back then (and it still prevails though it is fading away) was software testing is a B grade job. Computer scientist who can’t code and who are not good at logic, should go in testing. That concept is so wrong and all the good testers I have met in my career and have the privilege to work with them were as knowledgeable as the programmers rather let me say that they possessed more knowledge.

Why we need Testers with more knowledge? It has many reasons.

One is that usually one Tester consumes work done by more than one programmer. That is a separate discussion so as what is a good Tester-to-Programmer ratio that is going on for years but in actual, it is hard to find a 1:1. The average that I have worked is 1:3, though it depends on the type of project. For the purpose of record, I have worked in projects of 1:1 and also in 1:7.

ProgrammerToTesterRatio

So what does this mean? The tester has to have more vision of the product and its domain knowledge to see that individual pieces coming from programmers fit in it or not.

If tester’s focus is on just one of the modules and not on the whole system, the chances of success are very less. Where as it is good for the programmers to focus on their module, it is in the best interest of the project/product that the testers in the team keep an eye on the overall system.

Another reason for tester to have more domain knowledge than programmer is even obvious. From a programmers’ perspective, all she needs to care about is a dialog (say a grid) behavior, knowing how to connect to the data (say a SQL database), and how to display that data on the screen. Whether or not that data stored in the database and the information displayed on the screen makes sense to the user, requires some knowledge of the domain for which software is being developed. Definitely we need the testing eyes to possess the knowledge that the users of the software usually would have.

How has been your experience working as a tester? Or as fellow programmers what is your view on the testers in your team?

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16 responses to “A job better than testing…”

  1. Moawiz says :

    The major reason for such perceptions is that very often we do not distinguish between roles and designations especially if one is not working in that particular field.

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    • majd says :

      Thanks Moawiz for your comments. You are right that if each role can understand the importance of the role of other members in the team, the perception issues go away. And that is why talking to the team members and understanding their roles really helps.

      Like

  2. SamreenM says :

    Our mindset is “Good jobs pay more” …. you should start paying testers as much or more than developers and see that the perception will change like a charm 😛

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    • majd says :

      Thanks Samreen for your comments. The ‘good’ companies pay and treat both programmers and testers are alike. May be some day, we’ll see ‘excellent’ companies that pay testers more 🙂

      Like

  3. Asad Ur Rehman says :

    Majid – good effort to express yourself and also tell people what is right and what is not. Do NOT get affected by people’s behavior or their reaction. You should be convinced that what you are doing is RIGHT for you. Wish you all the best in future.

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    • majd says :

      Thanks Asad sahib for your comments. And you are right that the perception that people around you have about the world can easily be so wrong. That is the reason when I picked software testing as a career, I never looked back 🙂

      Like

  4. Farid Mahmood says :

    Good thoughts. In-fact brilliant as I feel myself more knowledgeable being a business analyst. One for many project teams. That is why have lot of domain as well as industry knowledge.

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  5. Abdul Qudoos says :

    I agree that someone responsible for the quality of the system should have a knowledge of the system as a whole. But I don’t agree that developers can code their so called “module” in silo. In my mind it is the integration of the system as a whole that becomes more complex and thus makes the system useful. Developers need to also understand the system as a whole.

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    • majd says :

      Thanks Qudoos for your comments. You are right in mentioning that each team member has to have some sense of the whole system and I am in agreement. To explain a certain point, you present things from one perspective and that is what I presented in a typical programmer-to-tester ratio. In reality these roles are getting mixed up and becoming team roles rather than individual roles.

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  6. Maryam Kausar says :

    I haven’t done any job relating to testing but when I was in Manchester I worked with a team of 9 developers in which we tested each others code so I guess the prescription in Pakistan is that one position is better then the other otherwise in UK a team is responsible for the code and its testing so following agile methodology the whole team experiences different roles throughout the development process.

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    • majd says :

      Thanks Maryam for your comments. You explained well an agile experience of cross functional team that is responsible for all task necessary to deliver software. The industry in Pakistan is adapting agile fast and we have some examples of such teams and that is why I see a bright future for people who have good testing instincts.

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  7. HHamid says :

    Never mind, at some point in time majority of the test engineers have gone through similar phases. 🙂

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  8. Zaid says :

    Agree …

    I also rank Tester higher as compare to developer due to following reasons.

    1. A tester is a psychiatrist but developer not.
    2. A good tester should aware all the product lines but its not expected from developer.
    3. A tester is responsible for quality w.r.t functional and non-functional but developer not directory responsible for this because a protected layer added for this is called QA/QC.
    4. Communication skills of tester should be greater then developer.
    5. A good tester should aware about the language in which product develop.
    6. A tester is a coder due to automation work.
    7. A tester logical skills are similar to developer because developer dev product but tester find the loop holes in the developed products.
    8. Tester role is like a auditor and developer role like a accounts, a good auditor should a good accountant+ additional auditing skills.
    9. A long range of supporting technology knowledge expected from tester but these expectation not expected from developer.

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