Software Testing – The Hidden Profession

After working at Assurity for a few months, I decided to catch up with some friends in Auckland. Given that most of my friends have left uni in the past few years; it’s safe to say that our lifestyles have changed; and a major topic that would arise would be what we’re doing with ourselves these days. That is, what exactly are we doing 40 hours a week?

The other person would start it off and go into how they’re enjoying their job as a lawyer/accountant/marketing co-ordinator. I’d ask about what their typical day is like; do they miss uni (and everything that came with it such as lectures and exams); do I know anyone who works at their company; and so on and so forth.

And then it would be my turn.

I’d say I’m working as a Test Analyst with Assurity Consulting Ltd.

I would then be faced with a blank look.

“So do you write code?”

No, not exactly. But some people in Testing do need that skill. I suppose you could say we want to verify the quality of software before it goes live and plan how to break it.

I’ve had many conversations go along these lines and I’ve come to the conclusion that a lot of people not only don’t know what exactly a Test Analyst does- but the fact that they exist.

Well I suppose that shouldn’t surprise me, given that I, for one, honestly thought that software development went a little like this (before I discovered the world of Software Testing):

  1. Project Managers and Business Analysts tell the developers what they want the system to do
e.g. I want a search website that finds what I want, is not case sensitive and comes up with a maximum of 10 search results per page.
  1. Developers write code for this
  2. It goes live
Oh and I suppose the developers and/or Project Managers & Business Analysts would try out the system to see how it was.

It didn’t occur to me that there are people whose profession is dedicated to ensuring software quality is present.
It didn’t occur to me that this role could branch out to many more roles such as a test engineer, test manager, integration specialist, automation…
It didn’t occur to me that this role is in high demand in NZ

Little did I know.

Now that the world’s reliance on technology is increasing, it makes sense that careers surrounding these changes are plentiful. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not in any way saying that it is easy to get a job as a Test Analyst. But I think I could say that the market is promising.

But you know what really irks me?

The fact that some people think that anyone can be a Test Analyst.

I’m pretty sure there are people out there who think they can just haul someone in front of a computer, tell them to ‘test’ it, and then go-live based on that person’s findings (who, in fact, has another day job).

Now maybe, this is suitable for a really small company where it doesn’t make sense to have someone devoted solely to software testing because everyone at that company has a range of roles in the organisation.

Or maybe it’s a start-up and no financial resources can be allocated to do software testing.

Both of the above scenarios are realistic, and dare I say justifiable.

But if you want to make sure that the system is performing the way it should be- then you know who to call.

Maybe it’s the fact that many people aren’t aware of how IT projects actually operate.
Maybe it’s the fact that people don’t see the point in hiring someone dedicated to ensuring software quality.

But let’s face it- Testing is the Hidden Profession.

So now what are we going to do about it?

My intention in this blog is not to raise awareness among those who already understand the  benefits of testing. But I do want people to raise awareness around this profession.

Tell people what you do day to day.
Tell people what makes your role important in an IT project
Tell people what makes being a Test Analyst stimulating.

Have that conversation, then see what happens next.