Has the Software Industry Outgrown Traditional Testers?

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I recently asked Adam Auerbach, the vice president of quality and DevOps engineering at Lincoln Financial Group, an odd question during an interview for StickyMinds: Do testers feel that modern software is unfair?

On its own, it’s a silly question. Why would software be unfair? Sure, the industry is seemingly changing every single day, with agile, DevOps, continuous integration, and a medley of other hot topics changing how we create products. But why would that make it unfair?

If there’s a common thread when it comes to all these new practices, it’s that testers need to take on new responsibilities and learn new skills in order to stay relevant. And while everyone on a software team has to adapt in some way in order to keep up, it always seems like testers are under the brightest lights. It’s either evolve or get fully left behind.

And that’s why Auerbach agrees, to a certain extent, that testers are often getting a bad hand in the software game.

“It's true in the sense of, ‘Why are people looking at us? Here it goes, people are trying to squeeze testing, and it's always our fault,’” he explains. “What I would tell you is that, by embracing these skills and becoming closer to becoming an engineer, and enabling continuous testing, you're able to do so much more, and become the driving force in transformation within your organization.”

As a tester, though, it isn’t easy to hear that what you might have been doing most of your life is mostly going away. You can’t just be a manual tester. You can’t just ignore automation and all the other changes happening in the industry. Testers today have to find ways to contribute earlier and more often, and that often means becoming part-time engineers and programmers.

So yes, compared to other standard members of a software team, testers are going through an unfair stretch. But thankfully, this new breed of tester who has more tools at their disposal has the opportunity to play an even bigger role in the industry.

“When you start with testing, it really creates energy around this movement, around what they're doing in quality, and then that propels even further to the other DevOps capabilities that a company needs to knock down thereafter,” Auerbach continues. “Yes, it is unfair in some regards that people are picking on testing again, but by embracing it, you really have an opportunity to be the driving force at your company for this movement.”

Don’t dig your heels in the dirt and pine for the old days of exclusive manual testing. It might seem unfair now, but testers can become leaders in their organizations if they embrace the new software testing landscape.

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