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.
– 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.
– 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.
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