In any software development company, we all know that developers and testers work together on projects. No matter whether you are using agile/devops or traditional waterfall methodology, if developers or testers work together, some project managers value a developer more than a QA tester, irrespective of small or big organizations. This is somewhat understood as in the industry, developers are in the creative role (even testers can also be in this role e.g. in automation testing or framework, process automation). No matter, how good a tester you are, how much value you add for the project, you will never be as important as a developer to certain project managers. The difference in value (of job roles) for those project managers are sometimes huge which can be reflected in meetings, discussions, evaluations etc. I think, when both the developers and testers are managed by the same project manager that’s when testers have more opportunity to be unlucky. However, if the project manager is ethical, honest, understands & values both (roles) equally and is truly focused on the quality delivery, then the story is totally different and there is no doubt that testers are much happier in that scenario.
We all know that the number of developers working on a project is usually more than testers based on project plan & estimation. In my experience, I have observed that, based on the project cost, profitability and ensuring the deadline, sometimes project managers take less testers than what there is supposed to be, or the testing duration gets shortened and yes, it happened after lot of discussions. Consequences of that means the workload increased for the testers. Before shift-left or agile methodologies, testers are mostly allocated later in the SDLC and not at requirement gathering phase. This has also resulted in a larger workload for testers as they need to catch-up on lot of areas in order to verify at the earliest. Again, if developers miss a deadline due to any reason, the project manager directs testers to provide support over extended hours to meet the deadline. When testers find issues, this results in re-testing and regression testing and the cycle continues causing more development and corresponding testing work. In these situations, I am trying to say that testers don’t have any less pressure than a developer and should be treated equally. I think, developers develop the software based on the requirement or updated requirement, properly guided by architects. Testers test the application initially based on test cases. Later, testers must think like the customer, both in terms of functionality and non-functionality and many other ways to find any potential anomalies in the software. It is hard to measure the tester’s effort (other than hours spent) as the tester’s job is to prove the software is not doing anything unexpectedly. Even being unable to think and verify a single possible test case can be dangerous. Even after seeing above-said situations, some project managers still think that testers have less value than developers. There is no doubt working under those project managers, a tester will feel unlucky!
Let me share my personal story. I was a campus selector for one of software service provider company & started my career as a developer. However, eventually after 6 months I became a tester. More importantly, some of my close colleagues and college-mates were unhappy about this decision. One of them reminded me even though I was top in my engineering college, I was not taking the right decision to join testing. They are my good colleagues and friends and really care for me. I also admire them and respected their feedback. However, I still chose my career as a tester. This story itself says that testers can be regarded within the software industry as having less value.
I have worked as a tester directly under the development manager, (vertically aligned) and worked as a tester where I was assigned to a project but belonged to a test practice or under a testing center of excellence (horizontally aligned). Personally, I feel much happier to work in a horizontally aligned team. In that scenario, I have been supervised, motivated and evaluated by the test practice/testing center of excellence rather than directly managed by a development manager. Having said that it is not that everything is always great when I report to a test manager or work under testing center of excellence. Again, there are some poor managers in a test practice or testing center of excellence and in that situation, there can be unhappiness too.
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Nowadays, companies are moving towards agile/devops engagement where tester’s roles are changing (known as SDET- software development engineer in test). They started getting involved in the early stages of SDLC due to shift-left methodologies and there is continuous integration & continuous testing going on. Automation testing is getting priority in the longer terms. In agile engagement, both testers and developers are under same project manager. So, testers have greater chance of feeling unhappy. However, the positive part is that things are getting better majorly due to tester roles altering. Again, as I said earlier, if a project manager understands and values testing, then there is no issue for Bimodal-IT development i.e. for both traditional as well as for agile methodologies. I personally felt sad many times being a tester, mainly because the way some project managers treat testers particularly in the service industry. I think, we all know about this culture. My understanding is that it will take more time to totally change this perception but things are going on the right direction since the inception of agile methodologies. Maybe to overcome those sad moments or maybe initial day’s lesson learnt, I always tend to be more focused, more engaged. I always try to think from a customer’s perspective and ensure quality delivery. Keeping aside the inferiority or unhappiness that comes from time to time, I try to increase my technical skills, domain skills, analytical skills and try to understand the requirements thoroughly. I go through the internal e-learning courses or internal certifications. I try to understand the architectural documents, ask questions, talk to the whole team, actively participate in all team communications. Also, I try to identify different areas of process improvement or team communication improvement. I analyze by looking inwards, upwards, downwards, in every direction. I do my best to add more documentation for future references and standby to my defects/observations but not behave like a rigid. I think, a tester’s job is not only finding defects but also ensuring a quality product for customers in this accelerated release era. Testers should convey the message that quality is everyone’s responsibility from stakeholders, application owner, developers, testers and operation team, it is absolutely a team effort. I always do some research before asking a question, it certainly adds credability. When you continue doing that, those managers will eventually started thinking differently and things become much easier. I personally felt that working under some development managers.
On the other hand, it is a great feeling that things are changing. Testers are getting involved from the requirement gathering stages, doing shift-left & shift-right testing and doing continuous testing, doing more automation work, utilizing their exploratory skills. On the other hand, in low code/no code development developers are doing less code. There is no doubt that testers need to be more courageous and focused on testing and be happy rather than felling sorry or inferior. We came a long way in software industry and there is no doubt that eventually this inferior thought process will be totally gone.
BIO: Arun earned a degree in Computer science from Govt. Engg. College, India (college topper). He has 13 years experience of managing E2E performance testing delivery in different types of applications. He has a keen interest in reading and writing different technical papers. He was selected to speak at multiple international conferences; global webinars and his papers have been published in many forums. Currently, he is working as a Senior Test Manager in Atos-NAO & Global subdomain leader for Atos Expert: Application-Testing