Testing in 2020 – Part I

I was asked last week by Qualitest, a test outsourcing firm in Israel, to take part on a Half-Day Seminar around the Future of Testing.  I was flattered by the invitation, specially since they asked me to do the closing presentation titled “Testing in 2020” where I would present how I foresee the Testing World 10 years from now.

In preparation for the talk I did some research on the subject, asked for opinions from fellow tester both in Twitter and QAForums, listened to an interesting web presentation by Dr. James Whittaker sponsored by uTest, and finally decided that my best approach would be to look at the subject from my own experience and perspective.

Taking a look at the year 2000

So let’s start by looking back at how the testing world looked like 10 years ago…

  • Testing activities were isolated from the rest of the development tasks, and they got performed mostly after all the programming tasks had already been completed (in many cases when most of the development team was already working on their next project!).
  • Our “Test Engineers” where mostly developers fresh out of college and without any experience.  Trying to be sincere, these guys were mainly trying to land their first jobs as programmers and somehow ended up testing…  There were other cases were testers were not developers or people with formal technical skills but regular Joe’s (like me!) who got offered college jobs by some friend or relative.
  • Automation projects were something we saw as extremely complex or altogether unreachable objectives, and to make things worst due to the selling tactics of some software vendors our managers thought of automation as the magical cure that would solve all their bug and quality problems.
  • Lastly, between 1998 and 2001 was when the vast majority of us started doing some sort of outsourcing.  Back then we did it because our managers thought it would radically lower their costs, even tough we knew it would elevate the risk in our projects in a disproportional way to any cost advantage gained by it.

Factors defining the future of the Testing World

The Change Engine is a big machine that starts moving slowly and gains speed with time as more and more people recognize the potential of the new technology or simply adapt to the economic reality changing around them.

I believe that the factors that will define the future of the testing (and the development) world in 10 years are already present around us.

For me the biggest or more important of these factors are:

The Time-to-Market Revolution – shrinking the time-windows we have available to deliver our products and still be competitive in the eyes of our customers. If some years ago we could release versions every 12-18 months, today many of us run delivery cycles of 1-2 months, and I believe this will go down to 1-2 days in the next 5 to 10 years.
– The commoditisation of technology – reducing or eliminating the cost of most of the technological products needed for our work today.  If for example some years ago we needed to invest thousands of dollars to get good automation tools, today we can use Selenium or Watir for free; if back then a good test management system meant using something like QualityCenter and paying tens of thousands of dollars a year, today you can get a good test management tool like PractiTest for prices affordable by most organizations.
– Globalization – where international and cultural boundaries have been blured and are slowly dissapearing (at least in all that’s related to the IT and Development worlds).  Today most of us are already “masters” in cultural and communication bridging techniques, necessary to talk to our teams spread all over China, India, Europe, the US, Australia and soon enough the Moon and Mars too.
– The Cloud / Virtualization Revolution – that together with the comoditization of technology, make it possible for us not only to access cheaply unlimited computational resources, but to do this practically instantly.

What will change in 10 years from now?

I think the testing world will change mainly in 3 aspects:
–  The tasks performed by the testers – or what will be the main responsibility of each testers within her team.
–  The testing infrastructure – or the tools we will use to manage and perform our testing tasks.
and
– The profile of the tester – or what will be the profile and the qualifications of the testers of the future.

I will expand on each of these changes in my second post, that I hope will be out in the next 2 to 3 days, for now I will be happy to hear if you have any additional ideas about the points I wrote up to now.

About PractiTest

Practitest is an end-to-end test management tool, that gives you control of the entire testing process - from manual testing to automated testing and CI.

Designed for testers by testers, PractiTest can be customized to your team's ever-changing needs.

With fast professional and methodological support, you can make the most of your time and release products quickly and successfully to meet your user’s needs.

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7 Responses to Testing in 2020 – Part I

  1. Lalit February 3, 2011 at 3:47 pm #

    great post. waiting for the nest part.

  2. Joe Strazzere February 3, 2011 at 5:42 pm #

    Interesting. I'm glad to see you decided to focus on your own experience and perspective – it appears to be very different from mine.

    “Testing activities were isolated from the rest of the development tasks”
    Over the past 10 years, I've never worked in this kind of isolated state. I was always been able to ensure that testing activities were parallel to development activities.

    “Our “Test Engineers” where mostly developers fresh out of college and without any experience.”
    Over the past 10 years I was able to avoid this completely with one exception. I took a new QA Manager position where my first task turned out to be finding new homes for the wannabe-developers, and replacing them with professional QAers.

    “Automation projects were something we saw as extremely complex or altogether unreachable objectives”
    Moderate automation has simply been a part of business as usual in my teams over the past 10 years.

    “Lastly, between 1998 and 2001 was when the vast majority of us started doing some sort of outsourcing. “
    This one sounds right to me. Around that time, I was also experimenting with outsourcing models.

    I wonder if there's much of any norm here, or if everyone's experience has been different? Maybe I've been lucky.

  3. Joel Montvelisky February 4, 2011 at 11:25 am #

    Thanks Lalit.
    Will let you judge again after the 2nd part…

  4. Joel Montvelisky February 4, 2011 at 11:34 am #

    Thanks for the inputs and your personal view.

    I will start by answering your last question. I decided to go with my own experience after realizing it would be hard for me to reach a norm of the experience of a significant part of the Testing World with my current means, although I did get positive feedback from many members of the crowd who came to say that this was their experience too.

    I am writing the second part of this one and hope to publish it over the weekend. Will be happy to see what you think about that part too.

  5. Ryonish June 7, 2011 at 9:39 am #

    interesting
    i will read your next post for more insites
    ram

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