What does a software tester do? (And how much time do they spend actually testing software?)

Date: Jan. 13, 2020

Late last year, TechWell and Tricentis jointly fielded a survey of testers and testing leaders. About 400 people responded with thoughts about how they are testing today, where they spend the most time, and what holds them back. We also looked at job satisfaction levels and the level of respect testing receives. The findings are summarized in a report released today, “Expectations vs. Reality: The Role of Testing in a DevOps Transformation.”

When we set out to conduct this survey, we were particularly interested in understanding how all of this varies – what testers do, how they feel, and how much the role is prioritized – as an organization progresses towards DevOps maturity.

The standout finding: Testers at organizations who have successfully completed DevOps transformation were four times more likely to say their organizations prioritized testing as a key part of the transformation effort. We also looked at actual vs. expected test automation rates and found that most organizations planned to scale testing significantly but achieved only modest increases in test automation rates.

So what does a tester do with most of their time today? In this post, we answer that question and take a look at how responses differed based on an organization’s DevOps maturity level. If you don’t wait to wait for the rest of the results, you can download the full report.

How testers spend their time

Across all DevOps maturity levels, survey respondents report spending most of their time, on average, performing these five tasks:

  • Implementing tests
  • Designing tests
  • Planning tests
  • Testing strategy
  • Documenting issues

That’s right – testers still spend more time on testing than they do on anything else. It turns out that the answer to the question, “What does a software tester do?” is still pretty simple. But when we segmented survey responses according to DevOps maturity level, some interesting trends emerged.

We found that in organizations where DevOps transformation is complete or in progress, testing strategy took the top spot, and updating/maintaining automated tests also made the list of the top five ways testers spend their time. In contrast, in the least mature organizations (those who said DevOps transformation hasn’t started and it isn’t a priority), testing strategy didn’t even make it into the top five. Those testers said they spent the most time on implementation and documentation.

The report also examines tester satisfaction levels (hint: more testers are satisfied than dissatisfied), manager satisfaction levels, and what testers see as the biggest threats and opportunities to their roles. According to one respondent, “Every tester goes through difficulties with changes in requirements, deadlines, and expectations regarding automating tests, reporting test results, etc. I feel it is part of the job in agile teams. We learn to adjust, and we get things done. That doesn’t make me dissatisfied with my role.”

Date: Jan. 13, 2020

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