Software testing is inferior to development is a myth

As a test engineer, you play an important role in ensuring that the final software application or product meets the desired quality standards, and the success or failure of the application or product largely depends on its quality

Idhries AhmadNEW DELHI, INDIA: Software testers have traditionally thought off by their more ‘advantaged’ developer community as some ones who don’t get involved in high-end and challenging work, and hence don’t deserve the attention and recognition that they themselves command.

However, LRV Ramana, Senior Manager, QA, VirtusaRamanna, strongly feels that software testers are no less cerebral to software developers when it comes to their contribution to the software development life-cycle activity. The notion  “Testing is inferior to development, says Ramana,  is pure myth and needs to be corrected.

“Software testing is as important as any other software development lifecycle activity. As a test engineer, you play an important role in ensuring that the final software application or product meets the desired quality standards, and the success or failure of the application or product largely depends on its quality”, says Ramana

Ramanna, with over 13 years of work experience that includes 11 plus years in software testing is part of Virtusa’s software testing practice and heads the Solution Accelerators group. He is CSQA certified and specializes in test management, test strategy, test automation frameworks & test process improvement & solution accelerators.

“Overcome the myth that testing is inferior to development. Software testing offers  a test engineer opportunity for creativity and excellence. One needs to be confident and passionate about his or her role as a software test engineer for success and recognition,” says Ramana.

In an interaction with CIOL, Ramana talks in length about the skills that a software tester needs to incorporate, so he can seamlessly move to the next level in software testing.

“With the lines between development and testing blurring, a test engineer is no longer considered as
someone good at clicking a button on the application’s user interface. There are many more activities and skills expected from a test engineer”, Ramanna adds.

“In short, strive to enhance your skills in programming, databases and basic configuration of web / application servers,”, he comments.

Ramanna also talks about Virtusa expertise in Software testing domain, services that Virtusa offers in the space of software testing <!– @page { margin: 0.79in } P { margin-bottom: 0.08in } –>and company’s dedicated software testing practice.

He also during the course of interview talks about talks about the latest approaches for cost-effective software testing and latest methodologies and frameworks in the software testing practice domain. He also sheds light on global market for software testing and correlates some of these trends with Indian software testing market

CIOL: Virtusa prides itself as bringing in a holistic new approach for cost-effective software testing. What different process, methodology and technologies does Virtusa bring to the table

LRV: Virtusa has been a leading provider of SQA services to Global 2000 enterprises across diverse industry verticals. We believe that software testing as an activity is most effective and beneficial when it moves away from being reactive towards being proactive. While competent test engineers with good domain knowledge are definitely a key ingredient to effective testing, Virtusa adopts a more holistic approach as part of our software testing service offering.

Adopting the Agile principle of early involvement, our test teams are involved right from project inception. This serves two purposes: namely, it encourages defect prevention and also ensures adequate understanding of requirements and creation of appropriate tests to improve test coverage.

Our other processes include usage of custom-built tools to measure code quality during development, highly effective review processes, usage of proprietary test frameworks and solution accelerators. Our overall test approach is built around defect prevention and reusability of test assets, in order to help clients achieve goals
like “Right first time” & “Cycle time reduction”.

CIOL: And we are seeing lot of action in your development center in India. Please brief about us that?

LRV: Using our enhanced global delivery model, innovative platforming approach and industry expertise, Virtusa provides high-value technology services to clients through Advanced Technology Centers (ATCs) located across India and Sri Lanka. In India, the ATCs are located in Chennai and Hyderabad.

Recently we opened a new facility in Chennai which is our fifth facility in India, with 60,000 square feet, accommodating 650 employees. Further, Virtusa is building a new eco-friendly campus spread across 6.3 acres in Hyderabad. Our ATCs reinforce Virtusa’s commitment to provide sustainable value to our clients.

CIOL: Coming to Software industry itself, how do you see the global market for software testing and correlate some of these trends with respect to Indian software testing market

LRV: The global software testing market is estimated to be about $13 billion, which includes the outsourced testing market of $6 billion. It is believed that the Indian software testing industry holds close to 50% of the global outsourced testing market.

By any measure, this is a significant achievement. From having a small team of less than 3-5 test engineers for a project, trends have now shifted to having large teams working as part of COEs (Centers of Excellence), supporting complex testing. While traditional service offerings like manual regression testing continue to be available,

Indian vendors are offering high-end and specialized testing services, such as performance testing and fine tuning, application security testing and vulnerability analysis, I18N testing, customer experience testing, test process consultancy, test automation services and usability testing. By adopting the principles of platforming, vendors are able to create repeatable tests that are cost effective and require minimum maintenance.

CIOL: And where does Indian testing industry stand and how do you see the future of software testing industry in India?

LRV: India has established itself as a de facto destination for software testing. India’s ability to offer high quality software testing services across verticals and its ability to conceive high quality testing solutions has resulted in many mission-critical applications being tested in India. While cost effectiveness is definitely a plus point,

India’s strength lies in its ability to produce high quality test engineers possessing all-round experience in different domains and technologies. With focused development of testing frameworks and solution accelerators, the Indian software industry is all set to consolidate its position as a leading high-end provider of testing services.

CIOL: What kind of tips would you offer to fresh engineering graduates who plan to opt for software testing? What are the benefits for a software tester if he/she opts for software testing industry?

LRV: Overcome the myth that testing is inferior to development: Software testing is as important as any other software development lifecycle activity. As a test engineer, you play an important role in ensuring that the final software application or product meets the desired quality standards, and the success or failure of the application or product largely depends on its quality. Software testing offers  a test engineer opportunity for creativity and excellence. One needs to be confident and passionate about his or her role as a software test engineer for success and recognition.

Enhance your armoury: With the lines between development and testing blurring, a test engineer is no longer considered as “someone good at clicking a button on the application’s user interface.” There are many more activities and skills expected from a test engineer. They include the ability to write code (essential to creating automated tests), good understanding of systems and application architecture (essential for planning, designing, executing and analyzing performance tests), and knowledge of databases (essential for data validation services). In short, strive to enhance your skills in programming, databases and basic configuration of web / application servers.

Sharpen your skills in Open Source software: There are many open source testing tools (for test automation, performance testing, data validation, etc.). Explore these tools and get familiar with their basics. Sooner or later, you will need to use them.

Be aware of emerging trends: Many things are changing in the software landscape. Understand terms like TDD, Agile testing, Risk & Model based testing, Customer experience testing, Security testing, Performance testing and Performance fine tuning, etc.

Understand domain and get certified: Develop a basic understanding of the key activities in domains like Banking, Financial Services, Insurance and Telecom, among others. This knowledge allows you to enhance test effectiveness. Take exams and get certified in these domains.

Benefits: Apart from a great career that includes growth and compensation at par with others in the industry, as a skilled test engineer, you will get multiple opportunities to work on a wide spectrum of domains and technologies. In addition, if you specialize in a particular kind of testing, you can grow towards a role as a test architect focusing on technical testing. Alternatively, you can specialize on a domain and become a functional expert.

CIOL: How often do you come across Indian software developers with domain expertise in open source development and how do you rate them with global software community

LRV: The Indian software industry is probably one of the world’s largest consumers of open source software. This indicates the acceptance of open source code as a normal way of life. However, the irony is that India’s contribution to the development of open source software is very limited. This is not due to lack of knowledge or capability, but is mostly due to the limited value attributed to contributing to open source.

The problem starts with our education system that focuses on creating employable graduates without encouraging creativity among the students. Another reason is that majority of the developers consider programming as a job to be done for earning money rather than taking up programming as their passion. However, the good news is that this is changing, and the Indian developer is starting to realize the importance of contributing back to the community.

Luckily, this trend is here to stay and we will definitely see some great contributions from India towards Open Source software development.

CIOL: Coming to testing domain itself, can you brief us about the latest methodologies and frameworks, that you  are seeing in the software testing practice domain?

LRV: Changes in technology and lifecycle methodologies have contributed to testing evolving from tactical, pure manual testing to an activity that is much more strategic and critical for project success.

With new technologies, like Web 2.0, SOA and SaaS, and methodologies like Agile and Test Driven Development (TDD), it is essential that software testing evolve to keep up. Further, consolidation of IT services and competitive forces have resulted in testing organizations relying on building frameworks and solution accelerators. These frameworks and accelerators help improve productivity, enhance quality and improve overall test effectiveness.

CIOL: And how important role does software testing lifecycle play in the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC)?

LRV: Software testing is an integral part of SDLC and occupies a similar position as any other component of the SDLC. Software testing aims at detecting defects that can result in failures; the consequences of such failures can include loss of customers, increased cost of maintenance, financial losses, or in some extreme cases, loss of human life.

History is replete with multiple examples (e.g.: the Terminal 5 fiasco in Heathrow’s airport that resulted in losses of £16m for British Airways in the first five days of operation, or the Ariane 5 Flight 501 failure) that demonstrate the consequences if software testing is compromised.

CIOL: Coming back to Virtusa, can you brief about Virtusa’s expertise in Software testing domain?

LRV: Virtusa is a leading provider of software testing services, with significant industry and domain expertise across Banking, Financial Services, Insurance, Telecommunications, Media & Information and Health care. Our rich heritage of more than 11 years of delivering software solutions also includes providing testing services to fortune 500 clients, large enterprises and ISVs.

Our global testing pool of more than 1100 testing resources consists of high-end resources that are certified (testing specific, domain specific and tool specific certifications). Consolidating our experience, we have developed proprietary testing solutions and frameworks that provide significant benefits to our clients.

Backed by our unique frameworks and testing solutions, we offer expertise in the areas of Internationalization testing, Data warehouse testing, Certification testing, Security testing, Core performance testing and performance engineering, test automation, usability testing, data migration testing, functional testing services and test consultancy services that includes test process improvement services.

In addition, Virtusa offers unique solutions for testing Content Management (Vignette) and Business Process Management (Pegasystems) implementations. Our integrated test facility, or ITF, is a focal point for conducting performance testing, security testing and SOA based testing. Additionally, for some of our enterprise clients, we have set up unique testing CoEs that provides a self-sustaining ecosystem.

CIOL: What is Virtusa’s dedicated software testing practice all about and please detail us about the latest developments in functional Testing, test automation, performance testing, specialized testing and test consultancy

LRV: Following a natural evolution, Virtusa has set up a dedicated software testing practice, called “STeP”. The practice has a keen focus on delivery assurance (DA) and delivery support (DS). As part of the DA and DS functions, the practice supports delivery teams in test planning, creating the test strategy and performing reviews.

Practice team members who are specialists in different areas like test automation, performance testing, and security testing, work closely with the delivery teams to ensure that tests are of top quality. Our testing practice also owns the responsibility to identify and develop test frameworks, solution accelerators, enhance people competency by conducting need-based training and helping resources get certified.

Today, functional testing, unlike in the earlier years, is more than just testing the application functionality for stated requirements. As part of functional test strategy, Virtusa adopts a systematic approach of creating and executing tests that are based on end-to-end (E2E) user scenarios, and on testing to validate customer experience (including usability and user experience). Our test automation services provide automated testing using different tools, including the use of open source tools like Selenium. Leveraging our depth and breadth of experience across domains, we have created test automation frameworks which have helped our customers reduce their test automation costs and efforts.

2 thoughts on “Software testing is inferior to development is a myth

  1. I think the software testing is still an inferior activity, if it is performed by a set of (so-called) testers, who are not fit do any development activity. Most of them switch to testing (without any development skills) just because they do not want to move to BPO & support roles.

    Testing is considered, though important, the role played by people involved in testing (tester) is a routine one. Take the example of “testing” as used in a hospital env. Though the pathology department is an important one, how much respect do they command w.r.t the staff in other departments, like cardiology, orthopaedics etc.,

    How many names of film critics you can recall in your memory {of course without googling}, w.r.t number of directors/filmmakers ?

    My mantra of software development is TESTING is important, but TESTERS are NOT.

    In this cost-cutting era, the only way to go is to make the developers write unit tests, write system tests & performance tests (automated) and even perform the manual tests by themselves, before making a release. The “pure” testers (who do not have any exp in development) can be limited to only 1 tester for every 25 developers or so.

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