Welcome to The Pissed-Off Tester – T.P.O.T.
Economics is known as “the dismal science.” I claim that Software Testing & QA is “the dismal career.” Why am I pissed off? Let me count the ways.
Because testing is not taught as a formal curriculum, this means that every tester has come through some sort of nook and cranny. It’s nice that this opportunity is open to all people, but this double-edged sword also causes a wide-variety of skills and backgrounds. This leads to a wide range of expectations and pay. I’ve seen a testing job for a payroll application advertised for $10/hr on Dice. I guess the payroll system isn’t too important. Some testers come from a development background while others were secretaries. With such a wide range of skills (or lack thereof), we must wonder who is hiring these people and why. Clearly, they do not have a good idea of what is needed from a tester. Perhaps they’re just looking for a scapegoat if things go wrong.
None of the Project Managers, Directors and CIO’s that I’ve worked for have a background or experience in software testing. By looking at current job postings, it’s clear that they still don’t have a clue. I will cover this nonsense in a separate rant.
No doubt software testing & QA has made major leaps and bounds in the past two decades, but is it keeping up with technology? Probably not. Consider the spectacular increases in the computational power of hardware – yet most applications run slower today then they did 20 years ago. Sure we’ve added graphics, audio, video, Internet-enabled, etc., but software demands are outpacing hardware increases. Compounding this is that more and more devices rely on software; I have to wait for my toaster to perform Power On Self-Tests.
And at this time when software is responsible for controlling more and more critical systems – like engine control systems, medical devices and electric power generation and distribution systems – we enter the age of agile.
Agile methodologies have brought more focus to software development and corrected a lot of problems with waterfall, but what is really scary is the lack of analysis that most agile shops perform. At least there’s no paper trail (documentation) leading to the guilty party/parties :). More on this is a separate rant.
Software testing still suffers from the “red-headed step-child” syndrome – the bastard child of software development. Perhaps even more now than in the past, because if they were doing software testing back in 1970, then they probably took quality pretty seriously. Today, having a “tester” or better yet, a “QA Analyst” is a checklist item. It would look too embarrassing not to have one of these token workers on your team.
Software quality has advanced, but mainly on the development tools side – IDE’s, automated unit testing tools, source control, code profilers, etc. There have been advances in testing tools – the capture/playback and behind the UI, but I don’t think the mindset has changed. Testing is still an afterthought or lip service – even with full-time testers on the team. If testing is the culmination of the project – verifying that everything is working as planned – you would think that this would be the centerpiece of software development.
I recently watched a video where testers were saying “We need to get programmers involved more in testing. We should offer them discounts to our testing conference.” I have no problem with that, but I was wondering if developers ever thinking the same – we really need to get testers involved with us; we need an outreach effort to get testers to attend our conferences. Don’t think so. Most “QA people” are happy to get out of QA and “move up” into programming or DBA work or anything but testing.
At any rate, I will post my rants and raves on this blog. And (will try to) keep them much shorter.