What do testers do next?

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Thanks to Bruno Wolff for sharing their work on Unsplash.

2 minute read

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about what the future of the testers role could look like. Especially in teams that not only fully embrace CI/CD or DevOps but actually get some way towards implementing the ideas behind the approaches.

I’ve broken up my thinking into two posts with the first about whats could happen and the follow up on what they could do next. So what could happen to testers?

For a lot of software teams the testers role is to assess the quality of the work being produced by the developers. This is usually done by manually testing the software using techniques such as exploratory testing to find any issues that may impact the end users. Any issues found will be raised with the developer who did the work (as defects or an informal chat) to fix if the team deems necessary.

Some teams found this process to be one of their biggest bottlenecks in releasing software so attempted to automate more of this type of testing using UI tests with varying levels of success. Others meanwhile started to look at the testability of what they where producing and started to build quality in.

In both of those scenarios the testers role looks obsolete. With the first supposedly replacing the work they did through automation and the second by removing the role as issues are mitigated before they have end user impact. In both cases what they alway assume is that a testers role is just that, to test.

If the perceived value of testers is just to test the changes made by the development team then the future of the testers role looks bleak but could it be more than this?

Some testers are starting to repurpose the old QA acronym to mean Quality Awareness. What they are doing is shifting the perceived value of their work from purely a testing activity, which was to assure the quality of the system to that of raising awareness of the quality of the system.

This may, at first, look as if they are still doing the same work under a different name, but on closer inspection it is a vastly different role.


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