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Software Testing From Test Dummies to Test Professionals

Software Testing From Test Dummies to Test Professionals

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Published by Klaus Rocca

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Published by: Klaus Rocca on Mar 19, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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decisions must be made as to what gets tested and what is left out due to budget and schedule pressures.In some organisations developers are assignedpart-time to the testing group. These people have agood depth of technical knowledge, but often arelimited by experience with testing techniques andprocesses. Often it is seen as a part-time role, beforegetting back into the development group –unfortunately in some cases it is often seen as ademotion. Without commitment to the testing role,developers will not be motivated to learn moreeffective techniques, to improve their processes, andundertake further training. Part-time developers inthe test group will not help the team grow toincrease effectiveness and efficiency through adoptionLong gone are the days when a software development organisation could get by with test dummies. Youknow the kind of testers, those that have no experience with testing techniques, little understanding of thesoftware development process, and only limitedexperience with the technology involved.In the past many testers were simply end-users,seconded into the development team because they hada ‘knack’ for breaking the system. However, with thecomplexities and size of modern-day applications it isbecoming increasingly difficult to master testing.Using ad-hoc manual processes does not leave enoughtime to suitably cover the system. More structuredapproaches must be used, test automation needs to beadopted to increase effectiveness, and difficult 
 S  O W S I   G 
december 2002
Software Testing
Dr Kelvin Ross holds aPhD in the area ofconfigurationmanagement andhigh-integrity softwaredevelopment. Hestarted his IT careerwith DSTO andestablished K. J. Ross& Associates in 1997.Ross is renowned forhis expertise insoftware testing,including shrink-wrapped software,web-basedapplications, andsafety-critical medical,defence andtransportation systems.E-mail:kelvinr@kjross.com.au
Kelvin Ross explainshow the need forformal qualifications insoftware testing hasgiven rise to a newcourse to help buildskills and increaserecognition
from test dummiesto test professionals
   G   E   T   T   Y   I   M   A   G   E   S
of best practice techniques, tools and processes. Today employers want test professionals – not test dummies. There are unique skills of testers that arehighly desired by employers to make the testingprocess more efficient and effective. See thechecklist (left) for a cross-section of the desirableskills of a test professional.It is possible that Certified Software TestingProfessionals with unique skills in test management,test automation, and load/performance testing, may increase their prospects of employment and income. While some developers avoid the testing role,there are many that enjoy the analytical ‘big picture’element of software testing. They like buildingautomated testing frameworks to examine thesystem. With greater salary equity between softwaretesting and development we see more developersmigrating into testing as the financial inhibitorsare disappearing.However, even with a bright future for a career insoftware testing, the biggest impediment has been thelack of formal qualifications in the area. Skilled testersfrom a non-IT area often do not have a formaltechnology qualification such as an IT degree. Yet,despite sometimes many years of experience, thesetesters without formal qualification are bypassed forpromotion in their organisation. Similarly, testers who were previously developers also lack qualifications that differentiate them as highly skilled testing specialistsfrom those that just have ‘vanilla’ IT qualifications.Until recently there were few qualificationmechanisms that allowed the employer to differentiatethe test professional from the test dummy. Many of the training and qualifications previously available inthis area have been limited. Short courses are not extensive enough to cover the range of skills. Evenuniversity degrees often pay very little attention totesting as a specialisation. The Certified Software Testing Professional(CSTP) program aims to build skills and increaserecognition of software testers. The program is a joint initiative of Software Engineering Australia andK. J. Ross & Associates. The CSTP program is a combination of skillsdevelopment, assessment, and workplace accreditation, which qualifies graduates as test professionals andrecognises their capability as a software testingspecialist. The program is made up of the following:
11 modules of theory and hands-on practicalsessions that cover the diverse range of testing skills. The modules are covered over a seven-month period, which provides the candidate with the opportunity togradually transfer their skills into the workplace
   S   O   F   T   W   A   R   E   T   E   S   T   I   N   G
december 2002
K. J. Ross &Associates providesspecialist services insoftware verificationand validation,including testmanagement, riskassessment and teststrategy, test processimprovement, testoutsourcing,automated testing,load andperformance testing,independent testlaboratory, andtraining andmentoring. Visit:www.kjross.com.au
Know the best places tofind bugs and defects andmost effective methods foruncovering them
Know how to prioritisetesting based on riskexposure
Develop test strategies that balance testing needsagainst management budget and commitment
Apply testing methodologies, processes and analysistechniques
Possess basic technical skills to aid testing (e.g.scripting in VB/Perl/batch files), fundamentals of SQL, MS Office tools for data collation, and reportgeneration
Understand test automation tools and frameworks,including the advantages, disadvantages andadoption process
Know inspection and review techniques
Understand non-functional test issues, such as loadand performance, availability, failover/recovery,compatibility, useability and security
Manage and coordinate testing projects
Build a test team and foster an effective test teamculture
Collect metrics and measurements to assesseffectiveness of testing and quality of the product,and reporting mechanisms to inform managementof outcomes
Know approaches to improving test processes
Not everyone in the team needs to have all theseskills – in fact, it would be quite uncommon to beexperienced in all areas. However, there should be astrategy to ensure that a team can be assembledwith a diverse cross-section of these skills.If you are an employer, consider including theseskills in the tester’s position description. If your staffare lacking in some of these areas, ask yourself whatit is costing your projects, and plan a strategy forincreasing the skills of your existing team and/orseeking additional staff.If you are a tester, do a quick check to see whetheryou have these skills, as well as experience in theseareas. If you are missing some, develop a strategy toincrease your skills base – you will reap the rewards.

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