There’s a plague upon the testing craft, and it’s called “fake testing”. You could also call it “ineffective testing”. Here’s James Bach’s guide to faking a test project.
I believe fake testing is generally practiced by testers who just don’t know any better. We can’t really blame them. Most testers “fall in” to the profession. There’s a widely held belief that testing is an unskilled profession that can be done by anyone. So when it comes to adding testers to a project, often “anyone” is hired.
We could try to educate those “anyone” testers, but there’s not much point. They are the symptom, and not the problem. The problem is a lack of understanding of testing by the people who are hiring these testers in the first place. The problem is that testing is easy to fake, and its effectiveness is difficult to measure.
This is why we end up with testing certification. Hiring managers don’t know enough about testing to recognise good testers, so they’re just turning to some kind of authority to tell them what a good tester looks like.
If we want to attract more skilled professionals to software testing, then we need to work on educating the developers, the project managers, the product managers, the recruiters and the other people involved in hiring testers in the first place. If they recognise good testing, then they’ll know how to recognise good testers. Understanding how to effectively test software is something that the whole software development team should know about to some extent anyway.
So how do we do it? Well, for starters, maybe we should stop siloing ourselves as a community. We should be networking with the rest of the IT community, doing talks at developer and project management conferences, submitting articles to a broader audience. I’m sure some of us already are. It would be great to introduce more testing-focused coursework in universities. I know it was an area that was definitely lacking in my computer science coursework.
It’s been so good to see non-testers coming along to the Sydney Tester Meetups. I think we need more online resources, so that it’s easy to direct people to good sources of information about software testing. Something like “good testing starts here”. Dot com.
What do you think? How can we help educate the greater IT community about software testing?