As a Consultant at a business technology firm, I have heard my share of technology myths, especially surrounding Software Quality Assurance or what is more commonly known as ”testing”. The first question you may have is, “What exactly is Software Quality Assurance (SQA) and what are the requirements of a SQA professional?” Many people have different perceptions of SQA, so to help clarify position requirements (specific to my company, SDLC Partners) I have listed some of the day-to-day responsibilities.
- Interpretation of use cases, user interface specifications, and other functional requirements
- Development of test plans and test cases
- Gathering various types of requirements including data, functional, business, and technical
- Ability to work in one or more software development methodologies (waterfall-based and/or iterative) and with one or more quality management tools
- Evaluating functional or technical requirements for completeness, correctness, and testability
- Communicating effectively across teams and at various levels of project management
- Identifying project risks not only through testing, but also through early detection of requirements ambiguity
As you can see, the SQA professional has a great deal of responsibility and requires a diverse skillset in order to be successful. However, myths abound about the true role. To dispel some of the myths and explain the actual truths of a QA professional, I’ll address the top 5 common myths you are likely to hear:
1. Quality Assurance = Testing
When recruiting for quality assurance positions, our team does not hire “testers”. Our recruiters hire individuals who understand processes, have an analytical mindset, practice good communication skills, and possess technical acumen. As is evident from the list of responsibilities above, you can see that a SQA professional has a great deal on their plate outside of the testing arena.
2. Testing is easy. Anyone can test.
After speaking with some of the recruiters at SDLC Partners, I learned some of the requirements they seek when hiring a quality assurance software tester. Again, this individual must have an analytical mind, which is judged through a series of interviews. A consultant in this position will also work with project managers, business analysts, and application developers; therefore, excellent communication skills are required. It is also a misconception that quality assurance professionals have no set career path and can get stuck in the position. This is simply not true. At SDLC, there is opportunity to grow into a lead role where you define testing processes and the test strategy. An SQA professional can also apply their programming skills to move into various types of test automation roles. These testing positions require even more skill and experience, offering a nice career path for the novice SQA professional.
3. Automation eliminates the need for manual testing.
Automation testing typically stems from manual test cases, so that immediately negates this claim. Even when an automation test suite is established, there is still room for and the need to perform manual testing. Many aspects of testing, such as testing for user experience and user acceptance, require a manual touch. Repeatable, data intensive, and long running tests are ideal for automation. However, if you need to test something in a way that mirrors how users may use the system, the best approach would be to test manually. Simply put, there are some things a computer is just not equipped to test.
4. Bigger is better – more scripts mean better testing.
There is a misconception that the more you test, the more effective the quality assurance process is. Organizations may initially prefer a QA professional to test anything and everything; however, at SDLC we understand that there are constraints such as time and budget, which will not allow for unlimited testing. The growing need to be first to market is a challenge many companies face, and one that must be considered when developing a testing strategy. Risk based testing is used as a more effective way to test when budget and time are constraining. The goal is not to test everything, but to test smarter so that you ensure quality while also meeting tight project schedules.
5. Offshoring the QA function is an easy way to reduce the cost of testing.
Offshoring has gained popularity since the 1990s as a means to reduce costs through employing less expensive overseas labor rates. Eventually, after a series of high-profile project failures and a relatively poor quality of projects, more and more companies realized that this may not be the answer and returned to domestic sourcing partners.
The article, “Onshoring IT Services and Bringing Jobs Back Home” refutes the claim that offshoring is the less costly way to outsource by stating that challenges with software and testing quality required rework creating inefficiency in the software development process, communication barriers, high turnover in offshore locations, and security risks as just some of the hidden costs of offshoring.
Domestic sourcing offers the resources that have the contextual awareness of US business practices and culture. This means that the kind of cultural assumptions that can lead to mistakes which have potential to seriously delay a project are not an issue and there is no concern about unexpected developments in the political or security situation because of the domestically based center. The focus of domestic partners to “get it right the first time” ultimately saves organizations time, money, and headaches in the long run.
In conclusion, Software Quality Assurance offers great opportunity and can be a challenging yet rewarding profession at any skill level. If you are interested in the QA field or feel that you possess the qualities we look for in a QA professional, feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. SDLC Partners is currently hiring and is accepting applications online through our career page.
Bibhuti Aryal is a Consultant II at SDLC Partners, a leading provider of business and technology solutions. Please feel free to contact Bibhuti at email@example.com with any questions on this blog post.