So, What Do Testers Do? (We Need Your Input!)

I started a discussion over at Software Testing Club questioning whether testing was dead yet.

The responses were pretty clear that testing is, infact, not dead.  Yay! Perhaps we can relax a bit now and have a celebration?

However, on a serious note, the responses have indicated that whilst testing is not dead, it has changed.  This made me wonder how has it actually changed?  What does testing look like for a tester on a day to day basis?  And how can we communicate this better to the ‘outside’ world?

If we were testing 10 years ago, our jobs (for example) may have focused highly on test planning, scripts, test environments, testing and managing bugs.  It feels pretty different and perhaps somewhat dry compared to how many testers describe their jobs of today.

In an attempt to clarify to the whole world around us what it is testers (can) actually do, I’d like to see if we can gain further insight from you, the testers, about what it is you actually do on a regular basis.

Please fill in the form below or just leave a comment

The more practical and specific you can be, the better, I think!

Some examples, to get you going might be:

  • work alongside developers to create automated tests
  • work with support team to solve problems
  • train developers to write less buggy code

The results will be shared with the community as soon as we can make sense of them.  Thanks!

[This form is now closed].

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18 Responses to “So, What Do Testers Do? (We Need Your Input!)”

  1. Tony BruceJanuary 12, 2015 at 12:27 pm #

    I was thinking along the same lines myself, some of my thoughts:

    • Rosie SherryJanuary 12, 2015 at 2:05 pm #

      Thanks Tony, I’ll have a look at that!

  2. Jeremy GardinerJanuary 12, 2015 at 1:19 pm #

    “If we were testing 10 years ago, our jobs (for example) may have focused highly on test planning, scripts, test environments, testing and managing bugs. ”

    Yes, that exactly describes my job as a software tester now! What makes you think anything has changed?

    • Rosie SherryJanuary 12, 2015 at 2:09 pm #

      Hi Jeremy – pleased I could describe your job!

      I have spoken to a fair amount of people who are testers and their jobs are no longer strictly as like your job. These are mostly smaller, agile and startup companies. I’m guessing many bigger companies haven’t changed as much in their ways.

      I’m hoping that we can show companies and testers that more variety can exist in a tester’s career.

      • Ken McTesterJanuary 15, 2015 at 1:45 pm #

        I agree with Jeremy, not a lot has changed here (aerospace) in the last 10 years…

  3. ScottJanuary 13, 2015 at 2:42 am #

    What do I do? After 20+ years my routine is pretty laid out.
    Get to work early and make a pot of Death Wish Coffee.
    Hide it from the youngsters so they don’t OD on caffeine.
    Pull up Jira and map out the defects I need to test this morning.
    Attend multiple stand ups, retros, conference calls and run the ones I own.
    As a group map out our attack for the day. Prioritize feature testing and get to work.
    Ignore the annoying offshore automation team as they never listen to what I ask them to do. Assign the outstanding issues to my manual team, who will complete them in half the time.
    Have lunch with my team and let them know I appreciate their hard work.
    End of day wrap up all our testing, document how happy we were to accomplish so much and be ahead of schedule.
    With any luck, I’ll get 5 hours of sleep before my email starts alerting me the end of the world is imminent.
    Smile, and repeat.

    • StefanJanuary 15, 2015 at 1:15 pm #

      Haha, very nice Scott. That sounds a bit like an army Captain describing his daily life during war: “We get out there and smile, knowing that one dies every day,… but the job has to be done and we do it good!” 😉

      And yes, that fatalistic tone which your text seems to have a little bit, describes very good the daily fight against all odds for the QA , in my personal oppinion *g*

    • Kirsty LoweJanuary 16, 2015 at 9:39 am #

      Fantastic reply!

  4. MirjanaJanuary 13, 2015 at 9:21 am #

    Hi Rosie,
    I’m thinking of how to present the similar topic to the higher management in my company. Could you please share with me your findings based on this survey? I would really like to know how do others define their testing tasks, because most of us usually do more than just testing, along the way.

    • Rosie SherryJanuary 15, 2015 at 1:34 pm #

      Hi Mirjana – we will be sharing the findings. Please keep an eye on the website or be sure you are on our email list.

  5. ANKIT ARORAJanuary 15, 2015 at 1:22 pm #

    I dont think that our Job has changed (“If we were testing 10 years ago, our jobs (for example) may have focused highly on test planning, scripts, test environments, testing and managing bugs. ”),

    but right now , Inspite of Manual Testing , every company looks for Automation Part in order to reduce Manual Testing.

    I think , Testers should start thinking “Out of box “

  6. Kirsty LoweJanuary 16, 2015 at 9:38 am #

    Very interesting piece. Like many of the comments, things are still as you describe today! Although I have worked at other companies where agile was the order of the day.
    I think in the survey there needed to be more boxes…I could have kept going! lol
    Anyway, interested to read the results.

    • Rosie SherryJanuary 16, 2015 at 1:55 pm #

      Hey Kirsty – you could always fill in another form and submit. I had thought of making it longer…but didn’t.

  7. Luke BarfieldJanuary 16, 2015 at 11:19 am #

    Your description pretty much sums up my life as a tester up until a couple of years ago, I felt like I was trapped in a rat race! For the past 2 years however I have been working within an R&D function – so similar to your response to Jeremy although not a startup as such. I’ve been able to set up the test function from scratch and have had lots of fun along the way; implementing Session-Based Test Management and then shifting to thread-based. I’m now looking at going back to working for a consultancy and trying to replicate this for their clients in a similar way that companies like Doran Jones and Mooyla seem to be achieving.

    Thanks for starting the discussion.

  8. Juke82January 16, 2015 at 8:30 pm #

    Hi Rosie,

    I’ve filled out allready the form, but I w’d like to say a few words more from my point of fiew what has changed in testing today.
    First of all I would say: It depends! (a common phrase a tester would say, haha!). I think it depend’s on the company structure and management structure you are working for!
    1) Flat hirarchies? Then I think you have good chances to work as a ‘context driven tester’, or as an ‘agile tester’ in the office of dev teams for example! Why?
    Flat hierarchies means, that we have more chances to convince our small number of ‘bosses’ and ‘managers’ what ‘modern testing art’ means in today’s world!
    2) Working as a tester for a let’s say ‘global player’ – a big company which has many sites over the world. In this case there are normally no flat hierarchies. We have managers of managers of managers….The problem here ofen is: The more bosses we have the more opinions they have about what it means to do ‘good testing work’. My expirience is here, that we have nearly no chance to ‘convince’ them ALL to implement some modern testing stuff like ‘context driven testing’.
    3) Regulatory issues. From my own experience I can say that it’s not easy to implement ‘modern testing arts’ like ‘ context driven testing’ when he have to fullfill regulatory issues (e. g. to get our SUT certificated) or in gerneral when we have an obligation to produce proof to avoid court proceedings. Everywhere where software needs to be tested where bugs can occure where human lifes are exposed (e. g. healthcare, transports, etc.) testing is very hard! And I and our test management have no solution how we should do it in general….

    What for me the most interesting aspect is: We have more and more thinking testers, we have testing comunities, we have different let’s say ‘modern testing arts’ which are also in the same time necessary from my point of view: ‘agile testing’, ‘rapid software testing’, ‘context driven testing’, certifications for testers, etc.
    But what about our test management? Have s. th. changed here?
    At the moment I have the impression that test management (our bosses and managers in general) have still the task to create rubbish statistics about executed test cases, bug’s per release, pass/fail rates, etc… I can still not understand why the story of the tester, the value of the testing or the quality of the testing which has been done is not the most important’s thing for bosses and managers?

    Is there e. g. any single tester who can proudly say, that he/she can do his testing job during test sessions with exploratory testing for example? This would be some modern testing stuff, our managers should think to do….

    kind regards from Germany, Ralf

    • Rosie SherryJanuary 18, 2015 at 5:25 pm #

      Ralf – thanks for the comment. Perhaps we need a similar initiative to this but for test managers/management? ie – ‘What Do Test Managers Do?’

  9. AdebayoJanuary 21, 2015 at 12:53 pm #

    what we do as testers haven’t changed, how we do it and the tools we use have all changed. The context remain the same but the platforms have all changed.

  10. Stephen BurnleyFebruary 6, 2015 at 7:02 am #

    Day starts around 4:30am when I realise I hadn’t put my phone on flight mode and India fire all their problems at me to now become my problems
    Around 6:30, the annoying so-and-so in the UK with insomnia starts firing all their problems at me to now become my problems
    Around 7:30, after a mug of green tea, the annoying so-and-so will call me from their car, just to prove they’re up early and on the road
    Around 8:30 I’ve already done half a day’s work before the day starts
    At this point colleagues in South Africa, Holland, Mauritius or Germany will now be bombarding me with their problems
    And do for the first brew of the morning
    Clients generally come to life around 9:30am and will be having morning stand-ups with my Test Managers and Site Leads
    Around 10am my Test Managers and Site Leads will now be bombarding me with their problems, these will now become my problems
    HR and Operations will have woken up and a series of directives will be sent to me like Niagara Falls; they’ll want a resolution by midday
    Around midday, there will be a battle with others as to who gets the Test Analyst and who is left to make do with the Graduate; I then have to break to good news to the teams
    Early afternoon, I may get 5 minutes to wrestle a morsel of food from the mice before all hell lets loose again
    At this point – any liquid containing caffeine is consumed along with a handful of beta blockers
    Afternoon arrives and a client wants a proposal for a test team, along with costs, the one he’s been sitting on for weeks and wants it by end of play
    Around 4pm, I start on my own to-do list and get interrupted by a tester who wants a template for delivering test metrics – I sigh, oblige, and get back to my own work
    Around 5pm, I’m on my arse and realise that the timesheets, expenses and forecasts need to be done by 6pm
    Around 6:10, I crack open a beer and contemplate it all starting again in the morning