Why Software Testers Can’t Avoid Being Technical

The time of manual only testers is nearing its end. If you are a software tester you are either standing at the crossroads or already down the path of success. If you’re confused as to what I mean by being “at the crossroads”, I am talking about whether to become technical or not.  New technologies are making software more and more complex which means that there is more and more to test.  Software testers must start thinking about how test automation can aid them in covering all the necessary test scenarios to ensure that a quality product is delivered.  Take for example the mobile application revolution.  The GUI might be very simple to adapt to the limitations of the device, but it doesn’t make the code behind the application any less complex. Companies need their product(s) to perform. Some only get one chance to get it right in today’s economy.  It only takes one bad experience by the users to cost the company millions of dollars in maintenance (or redesign) costs and a new marketing strategy (if the company doesn’t collapse first).

Well you might say “Well I want to become a test manager or a project manager.  I don’t need to worry about that stuff.” Wrong! At the least a test manager/project manager should be technically conscious.  How much better can you relate with the testers you manage on a project that requires some degree of test automation if you understand the time that’s required to build test scripts and interpret results? How do design changes affect your automated test scripts?  Even before the scripting begins, the test manager/project manager will be involved in test planning meetings and must be able to explain the benefits around automating or not automating tests.  If this isn’t enough, how much credit is gained by a test manager that can walk into a room full of executives and explain the ROI of test automation?

Now you might be asking yourself “Are you saying that manual testing is dead?” Of course not! I believe that manual testing will always be needed and must be reserved for the most complex pieces of the system that require a human mind to analyze.  Leave test automation to the most tedious, mind-numbing activities (e.g. entering login credentials).

So choose your path…one leads to a technically conscious test manager and technical tester and the other path leads to something other than software testing. Neither is bad or wrong but which path will you take?