What Value Do Testers Provide to Software?
It seems like a simple question at first, right? Testers, of course, test and evaluate the code they’re provided—spotting bugs, measuring quality, and even assessing risk. Testing is a tried and true process that we’ve been making use of for what feels like a lifetime, but as we continue to expand the scope and complexity of the devices and apps we’re testing, how much should the actual testing role change?
It’s a question that Jason Arbon, the CEO of AppDiff.com, poses to the testing community. He argues that testing isn’t about platform. It’s not a matter of whether you’re testing on a desktop, the web, mobile, or making use of ambient computing.
For Arbon, the question we still seem to be a bit foggy on seems simple at first glance: How do we quantify quality?
“I think it's time that we take a step back and quit just porting our best practices from one platform to the next to the next,” Arbon explains to StickyMinds. “We literally see this with Appium, right? Really think about what is the fundamental activity that we're accomplishing. What is testing? How do we quantify quality? Why do we test? Those are the questions I think that are still unanswered, ironically, in our industry.”
It’s difficult to not get swept up in all the buzz surrounding new devices or methodologies. There are so many fresh things to test that instead of sharpening core testing skills, we tend to just adapt what we already know so that it works for otherwise dissimilar platforms.
Like Arbon says, we’re taking the different things that worked before and just tuning them up for a new phone, a new tablet, a different smartwatch, or a household device that’s now connected to the Internet. Is that a short-term solution? Sure. Will we ever see fundamental testing questions answered and inherent ideologies advanced if we continue to retrofit persisting patterns? Probably not.
To assume we have testing all figured out would be a bit presumptuous. As we continue to become more technologically evolved, one of the most important things testers can do is take a step back, breathe, and discover the value of testing—as well as better ways to test beyond using what’s worked for other platforms in the past.
“That's what I want people to focus on,” Arbon said. “It's really not about mobile, web, or desktop, some platform-specific thing. It's about thinking about what do we do as testers, what value do we add to software?”