what does a software tester do

Agile Testing/DevOps

What Does a Software Tester Do? (And How Much Time Do They Spend Actually Testing?)

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, what holds them back, how satisfied they are and how well they are satisfying the expectations of others. 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 their companies perceive them – 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 expected significant gains, but in reality, experienced only modest increases in test automation rates.

In this post, we answer the age-old question, “What does a software tester do?” and share key findings about where testers are spending their time, as well as how that changes based on DevOps maturity level. If you don’t wait to wait for the rest of the results, you can download the full report or watch the webinar now.

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. Even as enterprises dive headlong into new development and delivery methods, it turns out the that answer to the question, “What does a software tester do?” is still pretty simple. But when we broke down the results by 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 top five.

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 make the top five. Those testers said they spent the most time on implementation and documentation (of both issues found and manual tests).

The report also examines tester satisfaction levels (with the majority reporting they are either satisfied or very satisfied with their roles), manager satisfaction levels, and what testers see as the biggest threats and opportunities to the role. 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.”