Testers – Is It Our Own Fault We Are Underrated?

I recently wrote a blog post with the same title as this presentation and it has gauged a lot of interest in the software testing community. It’s a topic I have been discussing verbally in different testing circles for well over a year but some recent events in my career have caused me to finally put pen to paper (metaphorically). I have started paying a lot more attention to the Testing roles that are currently being advertised in the IT Industry and noticed little correlation in my role as a Test Manager in a Bank for the last six years and the Test Lead roles that organisations and recruitment companies are looking for. The jobs industry is telling me that my role can be fully automated or that automation should be my primary focus going forward.
This is despite the fact that I have no doubt that I have saved large sums of money (as well as maintaining a good reputation) for our company through the work that is not possible to automate. I have highlighted assumptions, ambiguities and grey areas in projects and changes before they’ve even been fully spec’d or development has commenced. I have sat down and talked to the Business, Business Analysts, Business Users, Developers and Release Managers to ensure that there is clarity on what we are doing, how we are doing it and when we are doing it. I’ve highlighted risks and mitigated these as much as possible along the way. I have learnt key business knowledge from the business teams and used this information as input to my test approach and strategy. I have talked to the Customer Support Teams about where our customers are experiencing problems on the customer site and used new employees Beta testers for UI changes. If customers don’t use the application in the way we expect they will certainly experience issues. I have done all of this and a huge amount more besides.
I fully believe that automation is important and can make my job a lot easier so I can focus on the areas I really enjoy in testing. I was involved in the design of a Test Automation Framework across three of our offices and was a big advocate for the value it can bring but this was just part of my role and the organisation got a lot more value from what I did in other areas much earlier in the development process to prevent defects being raised in the first place.
In this talk at UKSTAR I will be putting forward ideas and thoughts on what as an Industry we can do to prevent our profession and the jobs industry from being fully fixated on automation and striking a better balance between Software Developer in Test jobs and more traditional Tester roles.