Continuous Integration Makes Testers Look Like Developers
As more and more teams look toward continuous integration and do everything they can to automate different levels of the testing process, it’s becoming more and more difficult to tell the difference between testers and developers.
There have always been distinct lines that separate the two groups—and they didn’t often work all that close together. However, shifting everything to the left and being more concerned with testing at every single stage of development has blurred the line between their responsibilities.
That’s not exactly a bad thing, but organizations can’t just push testers toward coding without the proper skill set. And if you do require your testers to do things that developers traditionally do, it’s possible that you’ll see these tester-developer hybrids move over to the development side permanently.
Mike Faulise, the founder and managing partner at tap|QA, spoke at STARWEST 2016 about why a reduction of your testing pool can cause future problems.
“The trend is that somebody learns how to code in C# or Java, they stay within a group for a little bit, and then they end up going to become a developer,” Faulise explains. “So there may not necessarily be attrition outside the organization, but it's attrition within just a QA group. So we're having a very tough time, just as a QA community, keeping technical testers employed within the QA organization.”
Should you cross-train all your testers, internalize that skill set, and continue to break down the barriers between the tester and the developer? That’s one way to handle it, but there are going to be complications. You have to ask yourself the right questions before you reduce the roles of your technical testers and move entirely toward a continuous integration solution.
“So, what we've really started to look at is the trend now has been that this is a skill set that's definitely needed for agile and lean and, doing CI automation, we need this skill set,” Faulise continues. “But it may not be one that we can long-term have at an organization.”
If your testers are going to start looking more and more like your developers, make sure it’s sustainable. If your entire testing team learns the development skill set, works both roles for a few months, then shifts into becoming permanent testers, your organization will suffer. Find the right balance, and you’ll be able to thrive in this exceedingly agile world.