Development methodologies like Agile, DevOps, Test Driven Development, Continuous Testing and Continuous Deployment etc. have replaced software development approaches that put testing at the end of development. The one common thread across these development methodologies is that testing is now placed in the heart of software development. That, and test automation has been an instrumental enabler of these methodologies. Can you even imagine being able to confidently meet the speed of development or fast deployment if the entire testing process was manually conducted?
Organizations across the globe are under constant pressure to increase the levels of test automation in their development cycle to roll out error-free and high-quality software products in the market faster. A report published by Transparency Market Research entitled “Test Automation Market – Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast 2016 – 2024,” stated that “the global test automation market is expected to expand at a CAGR of 23.6% from 2016 to 2024, reaching US$ 85.84 Bn by the end of the forecast period.”
The relevance challenge for manual testers
- This rise of automation has brought the traditional role of the pure manual functional tester under fire.
- It is also true that most organizations are now moving away from developing legacy products and those who do have legacy products are gradually on the road to upgrading to smarter architectures. As architectures change, the ways to test them follow suit. This further impacts the employability of old-school pure manual functional testers.
- Forrester estimates that by 2020, robots will have replaced 6% of jobs in the United States itself. The growth of the digital enterprise is leading to the rise of automation of the enterprise processes themselves with technologies such as Robotic Process Automation. Clearly, it is only a matter of time before repeatable and time-consuming processes will be replaced by automation to not only cut costs but also enable better outcomes.
Business processes and demands are constantly evolving. To remain relevant in a competitive marketplace, manual testers must ensure that their skill sets do not become stale.
Automation as an added string to the talent bow
It is rare but not impossible to find 70% of testing being automated. In this automated environment, it is clear that the capability to automate will be the preferred skill. Manual testers thus need to add the automation string to their bow so that they can remain relevant and ensure that their jobs do not become redundant. Manual testers today should now become critical contributors to test automation. The good news is this is a natural progression of their careers.
- Capable manual testers know the testing process inside out.
- They know what to test and when to test.
- They know how the software product should function and also understand the challenges in testing those functionalities.
- They also have sharp analytical skills, can efficiently manage workloads and quite obviously, have a passion for their jobs.
Clearly, manual testers bring a host of advantages to the plate. As development frameworks such as TDD, BDD, DevOps etc. gain a stronghold in the software development landscape, manual testers can leverage their experience, vast product knowledge and perspectives to develop automated tests that think from the perspective of the end users. This helps in developing high-quality products faster.
What to do next?
Any forward-thinking manual tester needs to add some automation specific skills to their portfolio and gain hands on experience of automation tools. Since test automation also demands coding knowledge, learning a relevant scripting language becomes an added plus. However, the challenge is that not many manual testers know how to code and many do not have the liking or the inclination towards programming languages. For those testers, understanding the workings of scriptless test automation tools offers an excellent option and helps them make the transition to test automation smoothly.
The role of the manual tester is now in a state of flux and those who do not evolve, risk becoming redundant. The role of manual testing will never completely go away, but you can count on the opportunities for pure manual testers shrinking. Our advice to stay ahead in this game, and yes to not get fired, is to embrace test automation. In a world that is beginning to thrive on automation, the adage “change, or be left behind” has never been more relevant.