Does the use of tools in software testing change the type of QA engineers needed?

If we use Test Management tools in the QA environment, does this have any effect on the type or quality of engineers we need? What are the risks? How robust is the outcome?

Ideally, the tools would help engineers to do their existing jobs better.

Effectiveness

Even if it were concluded that the skills needed to test the target application were still the same (whether or not supporting software tools were used), the use of software tools would be expected to increase the work rate of the QA team, helping testers to take less time to complete the tasks they perform routinely all the time.

From the organisation’s perspective a more streamlined, structured process, offering time-saving and less propensity for confusion, should greatly improve the effectiveness of the existing testers. And with everyday operations made easier to complete, QA staff are likely to derive greater satisfaction and pleasure from their work.

On the downside, however, is a risk that software tools will lessen testers’ reliance on their common sense or intelligence (if they just slavishly follow the scripts or work their way perfunctorily through pre-written test cases)?

Should it therefore be incumbent on testers to keep their wits about them? Or is this an unfair slight on their diligence? Could it not simply be the case that, with or without software tools to support them, good testers are good by definition and that the converse may therefore also be true?

Organisation

One clear benefit of software tools is that they help manage the testing process when a team of several testers is involved. Test cases can be allocated more easily between test resources. In addition, by being helped to become more organised as individuals, and with test cases themselves also better arranged, existing testers become more effective overall. Software tools enable testers to:

  • Reference test cases if they surget what a certain feature is meant to do
  • Collaborate more easily with external suppliers
  • Share the workload among the team members more easily
  • Lessen the ambiguity as to who does what (which in itself can improve how existing testers organise their own work schedule)

In short, a messy environment makes for an untidy mind, while the cleaner the set-up, the more freely the tester can think. And so it follows that, if improved structure can improve effectiveness, the opposite must also be the case.

Productivity and costs

If the right balance is struck between the use of software tools and the level of manual testing expertise, especially with the effect of a better process structure, there is every chance that the eventual benefit of software tools will be a reduction in cost. Reduced costs, remember, are a direct consequence of structured and more efficient testing (using software).

With the help of software, it could also be possible that not all workers require in depth knowledge of the platform being testing, since the test cases will capture some of that. The point here is that fewer people need to have a thorough knowledge of the target platform, even though the skills needed for the testing role may well be the same.

The cost of outsourced teams can also be reduced, since they also do not need to know as much about the platform. They can simply follow the steps with the help of software tools. These tools also help testers to manage other testers by enabling them to divvy up and allocate tasks more easily, and this then lowers management overheads.

Conclusion

The outcomes of test projects will vary, depending on the balance struck between the use of software tools and dependence on engineers with in-depth knowledge of the application being testing.

By analogy one could ask whether developer tools make a difference to the quality of a developer or development. The answer would be ‘no’, but they certainly make their lives easier and more productive. And what effect, for example, do PM tools (e.g. JIRA) have on a project managerAPPs effectiveness? Do they make them better at their jobs? Maybe not, but they certainly improve their organisation and effectiveness, which in turn makes them more productive and happier.

The parallels with QA testers appear persuasive. However, if you are not fully convinced, ‘test and measure’ is one way of finding out for sure.

Article extracted from the original http://trootest.com/blog/does-the-use-of-tools-for-software-testing-change-the-type-of-qa-engineers-needed