Softer Testing Skills to Focus On in 2020
As is the case every January, resolutions and trends for the coming year are a hot topic. Several articles talk about where the industry is heading, what to expect, and what to proactively work on in order to ensure you stay ahead of the curve.
The quality fraternity understands the need for continuous quality and the balance between shifting testing left and right along the software development lifecycle. This will be a year of focus on niche nonfunctional elements, such as more sophistication in cyber security, whether through tools, platforms, or technologies; more scale on the performance front; and more automation in accessibility, which has remained a highly human-centric area thus far.
However, besides these hard technical skills, I think this will be the year we also have a collective responsibility to focus on two softer aspects: being realistic about goals for quality, and bringing back simplicity into the software engineering discipline.
As seasoned quality engineers, it is important for us to increasingly acknowledge that quality is a critical attribute in the overarching set of engineering and business goals, but it is not the only attribute. A quality engineer who understands this goes a long way in ensuring a test strategy that is practical.
Not every defect is top priority to be fixed, not every test needs to be executed, and not every script needs to be automated. We have to strike a fine balance.
We want to deliver on a product that does not compromise on quality, but it’s also important to have a test process that is scalable, collaborative, and accommodating of the dynamic pieces of the overall software development lifecycle. Making a conscious effort to be realistic and balanced will win the trust and confidence of the team and put quality on a new pedestal.
Another challenge we will face in the coming years is in software complexity—complexity of operations, products, data, and all of software creation in general. Unless a conscious effort is made to simplify what we do and develop, the complexity will only lead us into a deadlock situation.
As testers, we can enable simplicity in product design, development, and processes. As we evaluate products, we can not only look at the alignment with requirements, but also keep simplicity in mind, both in code and in processes. Even complicated technologies such as blockchain can work toward a simplistic approach. Over time, this will help us to break the myth that intellectual work must be complex and to enable optimization in the industry.
Although technical skills will always be essential for testers, these two soft skills will also prove to be valuable, today and in the years to come. However, these softer aspects will require time and conscious effort. Let 2020 be the year we initiate these changes in quality.