Is There a Bias against Manual Testers? | TechWell

Is There a Bias against Manual Testers?

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With just how much testing has changed over the last decade—from automation, to artificial intelligence, to the medley of open-source tools on the market—plenty of teams find themselves unsure of the exact role that manual testers play.

We keep hearing that testers need to learn how to code, automate, and adopt as many skills as possible in order to stay relevant, but what about the highly-skilled manual testers who are still needed in today’s fast-paced environment—the manual testers who still provide value and do a job that automation just can’t correctly cover?

More and more, it feels like management (and even other members of the team) are looking for ways to eliminate manual testing. But Jennifer Scandariato, the director of test engineering and leader of the Women in Technology initiative at iCIMS, recently explained why manual testing is still integral to high-quality software delivery.

“There is a bias that manual testing is something that provides less value. I believe a strong engineer knows that there’s a level of critical thinking that is required to ‘break’ things and ensure they are built robustly,” she said in an interview with StickyMinds. “It’s easier to teach Java than to teach the critical thinking required in a test engineer or SDET.

“On a great team, you have diverse skillsets where everyone complements each other, and you might even alternate roles such as paired programming where one person is developing and the other performs the validation or peer review.”

OK, the mindset that most manual testers have is still needed, and certain parts of the process are better left to humans rather than AI or some sort of tool. But if a team is going agile or focusing on DevOps, should the old-school testers bear the brunt of the responsibility to change?

“Absolutely not. It’s a transformation at every level. At iCIMS, our QA team needed to learn new skills. Our SDET’s (Software Developers in Test) needed to embrace the help and create a buddy-system,” Scandariato. “Our developers needed to accept the help in test automation and be open to receive feedback on more effective ways to code.”

Manual testing might not be as all-important as it once was, but it’s still needed if you have any hope of delivering software at a quality you can be proud of. How we create software is going to continue to change, but the burden of that change needs to be handled by more than one group within the industry.

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