Why Testers Need to Become More Technical
Testing is often presented as a non-technical or minimally technical activity. Sometimes testers espouse this view because technical ability is not required where they work. Sometimes workplace IT policies, such as locking down the tester’s environment, reinforce the idea. This view places artificial limits on testers who could add more value to the project if they had stronger technical skills.
As projects become more technical, testers themselves must adapt and become more technical. With technologies getting more complex each day, testers need more technical knowledge to identify risks and find problems deep within the technology stack.
The glitch that took down The Royal Bank of Scotland last year may have been missed in testing due to a failure to replicate the complexity of a major enterprise system—a task which only technical testing could accomplish.
A technically-able tester can find more bugs in more areas—all while doing it faster. Not all bugs are found from scrutinizing a requirements document. Some are found in far-off, cobwebbed corners that testers may not even be aware of without knowing how to explore the internal workings of the technologies in place.
Testers must develop their technical skills because more DevOps team members are now testing. Thanks to the principles of agile development, business analysts, project managers, and developers are collaborating to test applications. A tester with strong technical ability can add value by differentiating his work and doing things no one else thinks to do.
Whereas business domain knowledge may lose its usefulness as a tester transitions from one field to another, technical knowledge transfers between domains. Continuously learning, diving deeper, and staying up-to-date hedges testers against a future that demands they be more agile and able to connect the dots between the application and environment.
While some say testing is dead, the truth is that this field is finally getting the innovation and ingenuity that's due. Testers will become more technical and find their place helping accelerate development.
With their ability to think critically and their solid hands-on skills, technical testers will be able to offer useful information on how to test a bewildering array of devices, platforms, and configurations in many different contexts.