4 Software Testing Roles
Software testing is the process of verifying a program or application to ensure that it performs as expected. It is an important part of the software development life cycle, as it can save teams from costly fixes. By understanding when and how to effectively run tests, a team will be able to avoid common pitfalls in the software development life cycle.
Software testing teams play a significant role in determining the success of a software product after development is completed – otherwise known as the pre-production stage.
That's why the players of the software testing team should be highly talented and capable professionals in their domains – to put the bar of success as high as possible.
As experts in this field, they should be able to create test scripts that will identify problems with the product in question.
Categorization of Roles in Software Testing
Every organization has its own team structure, but there are a few positions that need to be filled either by role or responsibility. These positions are critical to the success of testing teams because they cover different aspects of the testing process. These are:
1. QA Engineer
This position generally covers more than testing processes. A software quality assurance engineer constantly monitors each and every phase of the software development process and makes sure that the developed software meets quality standards. Additionally, they make sure that the software products work seamlessly without errors before they are pushed into production.
2. Test Manager
A test manager acts as a project manager. This is a management position within the QA or test team, which is very common for custom software outsourcing organizations.
3. Test Engineer
This is generally used as an umbrella term to cover many capabilities. It can refer to many engineers specialized in various testing approaches, such as manual testing, exploratory testing, performance testing, etc. It is also widely used to infer a testing position that minimally relies on automation.
4. Test Analyst
This is a position that, rather than being more technical, focuses on business problems. Test analysts ensure the functional readiness of the application is acceptable before it is pushed into production. They generally design, develop, run, and troubleshoot tests to catch any defects or errors in the code in pre-production environments.
5. Test Automation Engineer
This is a widely spread position among enterprises representing an engineer who codes (most likely a developer), but whose sole focus is on automating test processes. These people use testing frameworks such as Selenium, Cucumber, or others to effectively design and write new test cases. Another great advantage of test automation engineers is that they are well versed in GUI design and software testing.
Core Functions, Skills, and Responsibilities of Roles in Software Testing
The software tester’s role in a project is utilized differently in different organizations depending on the size of the testing team, structure of the team, and specific requirements of the organization.
Software testing job titles or positions are typically called “QA” or “test engineer”, but the technology they use, the business domain they are in, the expertise they have, or even the type of testing they make will differ.
In the table below, you can review a summary of the core functions, responsibilities, required overall skills, and knowledge of required tools of some common software testing roles.
Overview of Software Testing Team
The level of quality that can be achieved and how quickly you can reach your testing goals is entirely dependent on your testing team’s ability.
It is important to have the appropriate balance of different types of testers to have a testing team that effectively complements each other. Another important topic when creating a software testing team is to gather together domain experts who have all relevant required knowledge to test an application thoroughly as a team.
A strong software testing team needs to be structured in a certain way: The hierarchy needs to be clear and responsibilities need to be well-defined among team members. Well-organized teams are capable of handling all of the work effectively.
If each team member knows what is expected from them, then they will be able to complete their work as needed within the deadline. Measuring the performance of the tester is key to success. You should be able to understand what kind of defects the tester is able to uncover and which ones they may miss.
A “roles and responsibilities” document, which clearly defines everyone’s duties, should be created in participation with all the testing team members. This can be useful to aid quick communication with the person responsible for a task when an unexpected issue arises.
Do We Still Need Testing Roles, or Should Developers Do Their Own Testing?
Developer-based testing is being widely adopted by small-, medium-, and large-scale companies. Software developers are now required to write/run their own unit tests in many organizations. Moreover, some are asked to write automated and integrated code-based tests.
However, building development tests takes up time that developers could be using to produce new code. As a result, many developers skip this process and create features without testing them.
Developers can provide a significant amount of test coverage for their code, but this is often difficult to maintain if they don’t do it consistently across the entire codebase.
Some software development teams release code into production with only a couple of unit tests or code reviews. There are some teams that don't even check to see if the code still compiles after making changes. Thus, to avoid consequences, if you are going to apply developer-based testing, you should have a granular, well-defined, and well-managed process for testing.
There are software development teams that want to bypass testing their code for several reasons. One of the biggest reasons is the lack of visibility. When teams work within a small scope of the project, just like in most microservice applications, they are not able to understand the full execution flow of the entire application. This leads teams to be unwilling to test the produced code.
Some developers strongly think that creating unit tests for their code is nothing but a waste of time: It's complicated, boring, and difficult to execute repeatedly, even if test automation is in place.
You may ask why developers would test the software they create. There are developers who test their code thoroughly and take full responsibility to own the application. They write their own tests to understand if a code-fix breaks the production code, or even the build or the functionality of the application.
It's not always easy to find these people who take testing as a matter of pride and cannot go to sleep without making their code flawless in pre-production.
But here’s why testing is so important: Writing tests save time in the long run by reducing issues both in pre-production and production environments. Also, end-user/customer satisfaction increases because developers start to catch defects before they reach end-users.
Many developers don't like testing because it can be tedious, repetitive, and complicated. They do not fully understand the nuances of how every aspect of the application works together.
However, if you manage it well, in other words, if the software teams get round to testing as well as coding in their development life cycle, then the developers’ testing is very productive and indispensable.
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