Software testing is more and more popular these days. I’ve seen people doing, talking and thinking software testing a lot. While I do value all differences in the perspectives, I observe 5 common misperceptions in software testing. These misperceptions bug me because they not only make software testing look cheap but also degrade it.
Misperception #1: “Software tester means loser developer”
I had a chance to interview candidates for software tester positions and they often shared that they were trained to be a developer but for some reasons they couldn’t find job as developer, so they chose software testing. They were seeing software testing job as temporary position before continuing following their dream job as software developer. Why so? Well, there are many possibilities. However, it’s probably because they perceive software testing as an easy tedious task and doesn’t require coding skills.
The fact is that software testing and software developing are two different jobs with different skillsets and mindsets. If you are good at developing software, it doesn’t mean that you can become good tester. In other words, if you are a tester, it doesn’t mean you can’t become a software developer.
Misperception #2: “Everyone can do software testing”
Many people perceive that software testing is an easy tedious job. No programming skills are required. What a software tester does is to sit in front of computer, open the application, click here and there to see if the application works. I’ve been in software testing several years and I wish software testing could be that simple. Actually, software testing can be easy to be approached. However, approaching and doing the job and being good at it are different stories. Software testing requires wide range of skills and traits such as passion, creativity, observation, analytical, communication, debating and of course including coding skill. To some extent, software testing can be considered as an art and of course, not everyone can be an artist J
Misperception #3: “Manual testing is outdated. Now is the time of automated test”
In recent years, automation testing has become a hot topic. You may hear topic discussing about how manual testing is dying and automation testing is a new hero who saving or fixing the software testing world. Job ads are for automation engineers. Automation tool vendors keep promoting about their mighty tools, the tools can do everything or can replace a manual software tester.
Automated test (or I should say automated check) and manual test are two different approaches which are used to solve different problems. While automated test is fit for regression test, repeated tasks, unit tests, manual testing is fit for exploratory test, usability related test, etc. Automated test is becoming more and more powerful and showing its values. However, automated test /automation tool is not designed to replace software testing.
Misperception #4: “Software testing is a cost-center, not a profit-center”
While I don’t see much of this kind of misperception these days, it still exists. I still see many companies are putting focuses on software developers because they believe they are having great developers who can write clean bug-free lines of code. Also, with the concept of “developer builds thing, tester breaks it” make software testing become less helpful. It is correct that software testing is a cost-center. The more we test, the more we cost. However, without software testing, we may have to face sooner or later the bigger cost of re-calling and fixing units shipped to customer, worse the cost to re-building the lost trust of customer to defective products or company reputation.
Software testing is a cost-center but it’s a necessary one.
Misperception #5: “You missed bugs!!!”
Yes, this is one of the scariest phrases testers don’t want to hear from their boss. This comes from the misperception that software tester is gatekeeper (or goalkeeper) whose job is to catch all defects from escaping to end-user. Yes, we could catch all defects if we could apply all testing techniques, test approaches, type of tests, etc. And we could have enough time and money to do all that stuffs. No need to say, this is almost an impossible task when putting in the context of software development works these days where release dates are tightened and costs are cut.
Misperceptions in software testing are not necessarily bad things. They are just parts of learning process. We may mis-perceive things when we get along the way with software testing and we also could realize these misperceptions when we have more experience in software testing. The most important thing for testers is never stop learning and sharpen our saws.
[Updated – Nov-21-2015]
I have just created another version of this article and put it on Slideshare. If you like Slideshare format, you can see as below:
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