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The Everyday Trials and Tribulations of Software Testers

If you’ve been a software tester for any length of time, or if you’ve gone through the ISEB or ISTQB certification process, then I’m sure you are aware of the everyday challenges that we all face.  And these challenges are growing every year as the software testing industry in general is expanding at a rapid rate.  In fact, a recent report from a leading research company calculated global software testing spending in 2010 to be greater than $110 billion, and this is projected to increase to $141 billion by the year 2014!

Despite the dynamic nature of the industry, there are a few common challenges that exist no matter what company, industry, or country you operate in.  These issues have been around for decades, but are becoming increasingly common on the heels of the accelerating pace of industry growth in general. 

One of the largest issues is communication, which I have written about previously.  Whether we’re talking about personal relationships or business activities, communication is the key.   In terms of software testing, testers should be involved early on in the software development lifecycle.  This facilitates a common understanding around the project specs, goals, deadlines and functionality, which enables a laser-like focus that is almost certain to improve efficiency. 

Another common problem is mismanagement of expectations.  All expectations must be clearly defined, consistent, and understood so that testers know exactly what to test and how their performance will be evaluated.  Communicating expectations will allow testers to know precisely what they must do to successfully complete the project, which will lead to better results.

Another issue is that software is becoming increasingly complex and segmented.  Systems, interfaces, and testing processes are becoming more and more complicated.  This increases the learning curve, as well as the sheer number of variables to test.  Thus, testers are more likely to miss defects now than in the past.

So those are the “Big 3” as I see it.  I will propose solutions to these common problems in a future post, but for now I just wanted to frame the core challenges facing the industry.  Stay tuned for the follow up!

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