Friday, January 27, 2012
Why I Haven't Been Hiring Testers
As many of you know, my engineering career started in software testing. I'm in engineering management now, and spend most of my time building and managing teams, writing code (product code and test code), and handling technology strategy for various clients. I feel like that's important to mention up front: I am not anti-test.
Well, here's the thing. I haven't hired a straight up manual tester since 2007. I haven't hired anyone to a test position since 2009. I've hired developers, contracted designers, even hired project managers and contracted documentation experts. But no testers. I know what kind of value a tester can bring to an organization... so why haven't I hired one?
Well, partly because the testers that we did hire mostly stayed. That guy I hired in 2007 is still with the company and still doing testing. The guy I hired in 2009 is still with the company, although he has moved into development. We're still getting the testing function.
There's another part, too. I've basically stopped hiring testers as an early team component.
The testing function is hugely important. We do want to know that what we built works and that it fits our customers needs. So why no testers?
Increasingly, I have other people who are embracing the tasks that used to be reserved for a dedicated tester:
- developers have survived - thrived even - while writing test automation
- product owners have been eager to use the product in a structured way
- customer service reps and implementation managers have been able to provide additional context about application usage and behavior
- improved monitoring points out problems in dev, QA and production, and makes the patterns behind them apparent so debugging is a lot easier
Now, for some applications I'd still hire a tester. I'd make that hire when I needed that kind of specialized knowledge. But that knowledge is becoming less and less specialized as more people start listening to the mantra that "quality is everyone's responsibility". We're seeing more people who test, even as I'm around fewer testers.
Test is not dead. Test is more pervasive and discussed than it has been for most of my career. The dedicated tester, however, is becoming more rare. And I think that's actually good.