Testing in 2020 – Part 2

I don’t know why it took me so long to write the second part of this article.  Maybe it was that I needed some time to let my theories brew, maybe I needed to talk to other people about the way I see the market and the profession evolving, or maybe I really was pretty busy on a number of other projects and tasks.

In any case it was good that it took me some time because it helped me refine my ideas and consider some points I had not included during my first revision of the subject.  Only thing is that because I don’t like very long blogs I won’t be finishing this subject on this post, but will be writing a third (and hopefully last) one later this week.

Revisiting the game-changing factors

In the first part of the article I mentioned 4 game-changing factors:

1. Time to market revolution
2. Commoditisation of technology
3. Globalization
4. Virtualization / Cloud Computing

While talking to a friend last week I realized there is one human-behavioral-pattern that serves as the underlying motivation for all four of them (and many other less significant ones) and unifies them into a single change-wave:
Our race to shorten the time we are willing to wait to get what we want, or using the psychological terminology –

Our unwillingness to Defer or Delay Gratification

I will give a couple of examples of this race:

Example 1 – Food Sources & Alimentation
– Some 10,000 years ago we (the human race) developed agriculture as an alternative to of collecting fruits and vegetables from the wild.
– The first recorded restaurant dates to the 11th century in China
– Around 1850 the refrigerator is developed to maintain food and other products available for making food.
– In 1921, the first Fast Food Restaurant is opened, White Castle, serving hamburgers in the Eastern United States.
– In 1953 the first TV (frozen) dinner is sold in supermarkets.
– In 1967 Amana Corporation delivers the first “Personal Microwave Oven“, by the mid 70’s the technology was economic enough to make it a house-hold item.

Following this train of events, the day is not very far when we’ll have a “food replicator” like the one in Star Treck that instantly creates any food we want (regardless of what planet it originated from) in a matter of seconds.

Example 2 – Communication & Messaging
– Some 3,000 years ago people communicated sending a personal courier or simply walking/riding to the place where the other person was.
– Around 550 BC in Persia someone invented the first Postal Service, in Europe this was around 1500; but even before that there are references to homing pigeons or pigeon post.
– In the 1800’s the world is revolutionized by the invention of the telegraph. Then once again in 1844 with the invention of Morse Code.
– In 1876 Bell invents the telephone.
– In 1973 we took a big step forward with the invention of the cellphone.
– Some 100 years after bell on 1983 (there is no one date, but this one seems like the best to me) the Internet is established.
– Today we have email, twitter, sms, and Skype on our cellphones, and I didn’t even mentioned regular phone calls.  It takes less time for news to travel around the world than it does to get to the other side of town, and the truth is that people want to be in touch and up-to-date all the time!

I wonder how long it will be until we get direct streaming of news and messages directly to a chip in our heads in order to save the time it takes to see the news or read an email or sms message.

How is all this related to testing???

To drive the point home, the World is in a constant race to make things faster and to get results quicker.  This is also what’s driving our industry (the Development and IT industries) to deliver products faster than ever before, and in many ways it will dictate the future of our testing careers.

What will change for the testers?

As I wrote, I think that changes will centered around 3 mains paths:

– The Tasks of the Tester (his responsibilities whiting the team)
– The Testing Infrastructure (the tools used during the testing tasks)
– The Profile of the Tester

The Role (tasks) of the Tester

The biggest change for us as tester of the future will be in the role we play as part of the process:
– Who do we serve?
– What value do we provide?
– How do we interact with the rest of the team?
All these aspects will change in the future in order to make the development process faster and to complete our products and deliverable faster.
1. The new objective of the tester:

“To ensure the stability of the product throughout the development process”

If up to now our objective was mainly seen as stopping bugs from being delivered with the product, we will see how the value of testing starts flowing up-stream within the development process, and how the biggest value of the tester in the future will be to provide tools (tests, risk assessments, etc) that ensure the product is stable all the time, and not that it only reaches stability a couple of weeks before release.

How will we do this?
– By concentrating more on automation that helps developers constantly test their changes.
– By helping the team understand the risks in the changes being done to the product, avoiding flaws and bugs before they are written into the code.
– By working together with the programmers, catching the bugs they are writing into the code as they do this, instead of testing the product and reporting the them 2 weeks or 2 months after the code was written.

There are many things we will do to ensure stability; but the important thing is that instead of focusing on bug detection, we will really be working on bug prevention as part of our process.
2. No more Organic Testing Teams, testers will be a part of the Atomic Development Teams.
The second change in the role of the tester is related to the place in the Organization where we do our work.  I see Organic Testing Teams disappearing, leaving way to testers being part of Atomic Development Teams, and in some cases creating a kind of matrix-reporting structure to a Director of QA that oversees the quality and testing processes for the whole organization.

The reason for this is that the QA Engineers will need to work more and more time directly with their programming colleagues and it will “make more sense” to have them as part of the development team than for them to report to a QA Manager that is not qualified to help them control their priorities or working schedules.

We see this very strongly in SCRUM teams, but I believe this behavior is not singular to scrum and we will see more and more teams shifting from separate organizations structures in order to increase the communication and the interaction between the testers and their programming colleagues.
3. Coordinators or ambassadors of the development to external teams.
The last thing changing about the role of the tester of the future is that she will be more and more in charge of coordinating the communication with other teams (product, support, other development teams, customers, etc).

This will happen due to the communication requirements we have for testers and also due to the fact that we require from them to be more connected to the “business aspects” of the process and to be fully aware of all external factors that may influence the product and the team.

Being more fitted to communicate and interrelate with other players of the Organization, I expect we will see testers taking a more active roles in representing the team with other teams.

Changes to the Tools and to the Profile of the tester of the future

Since this blog has gotten to big I prefer to close these 2 last points on a third post that I hope to publish by the end of the week.

My apologies for keeping you in suspense 🙂

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8 Responses to Testing in 2020 – Part 2

  1. halperinko May 17, 2011 at 2:32 pm #

    Yes, it seems that the technological cycle in some areas is getting shorter and shorter (mainly around Hitech areas where this seems to be exponential).
    That's why I believe trying to predict is almost impossible.

    You have neglected one of the biggest changes, which is new human Input/Output methods – All-in-one Smart-phones, clouds and hopefully replacement to current typing and visibility aids will drastically change the interfaces we will test through, and the technical areas we will have to tackle (10 years ago – who thought every one will go with camera and GPS on him?).
    These put major new challenges to the way we test – now, how the Ha** do you test a 3D Hologram ??? 🙂

    I tend not to agree with the “all tests move into agile” way of thinking, and I believe it will soon backfire on us, I don't claim that new applications or new parts of SW releases shall not be developed in agile manner, I just claim that the huge backlog of regression which cannot be handled within the so called Agile process is building up in next releases which should support new features as well as legacy ones.One will need to learn how to keep the System/Regression processes in parallel to the agile development – and today this is mainly ignored (or just not making the headlines, while in practice it is being done in a parallel group) – since System/Regression is not in-sync with developers tasks and deadlines.

  2. Yaniv May 17, 2011 at 2:57 pm #

    Hi Haleperin,
    I think you are right saying that we will get a backfire when shifting 'all tests into agile' , but it's a long process that should take a while.  Probably now we're at a the point where we shift too fast to agile methodologies and testing without the required infrastructure (and that's the reason for the backfire). 
    But the regression is being addressed by agile methodology mostly via automation. Maybe now we're not there yet, but I believe we will get there by a decade or so.

  3. Vered July 13, 2011 at 10:23 am #

    Hi Joel,
    As always, great article, thank you. I am totally agree with you that tester's responsibilities are being change and getting more focus on coordinating and driving quality aspects. Thus, I am wondering, whether “tester” phrasing is still actual. Shouldn't the new role of a QE (quality engineer) in an agile organization lead testers to a new title? I would like the Quality Coordinator title, but still feel that it doesn't reflect all spectrum of responsibilities of a QE in the team.

  4. joelmonte July 13, 2011 at 10:34 am #

    Thanks Vered,

    This is a pretty good point, specially true in many places where testing is becoming a responsibility of all the team, and we see many developers creating and running automated and manual tests themselves…
    I heard once a company referring to their testers and Quality Engineers, I also heard someone talking about creating a post of Quality Master (like scrum master) for his team.My only problem with this is that, as you imply, we may be a little early in the evolution process and not only could we be creating an empty name but also creating a name for a position that will be different to the responsibilities we will end up having in the end.I guess that if I had to choose today I would go for Quality Engineer, not perfect but at least the closer I can think of.-joel

  5. Chris Dimitriadis July 24, 2011 at 5:41 pm #

    Excellent Article/Blog! It is exactly the way more mature organisations are heading. aka. the Organisational Director of QA

  6. Anonymous July 27, 2011 at 10:40 pm #

    Thanks Chris, it will be fun reviewing these assumptions 1, 2 and 5 years from now…
    and I promise to add more diagrams next time 🙂

  7. Vijay August 20, 2015 at 10:14 am #

    Was there a 3rd part of this?

  8. Chetan November 20, 2015 at 9:03 am #

    Great forecast,

    I liked the bug prevention thought, communication is the key between the team instead of reporting to managers. Involving in support and understanding the business aspects.

    Lean development/agile is still foreign for most of us.

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