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Pradeep Soundararajan on the Negative Effects of Enforced Manual Testing

by Michael Stal on Sep 17, 2012 |

In his blog “Tester Tested!” Pradeep Soundararajan recently published an interesting show case called "Story from a company that built "the best software testing tool". The author describes what happens if for business reasons testers are forced to perform tests manually in a "boring" routine activity.

In the project he personally witnessed a vendor of an renowned testing tool required some checking activity for another software product. Goal of this activity was to check  if certain links loaded correctly per mock. Instead of automating the task, the company outsourced this activity to an Indian service company. As the business model of the Indian company was based on the three questions -

How long is the work? How many people can we bill? How will this help me answer investor questions on the revenue?

- their testers had to manually check whether the pages and images all loaded correctly. After some time the testers got demotivated by the routine activity.

The same Indian testing service company got an inquiry from another customer for similar checks, but this time the customer asked for an automated solution for page load checking. Thus, the Indian company came up with an automated solution that worked very well according to Soundararajan. When someone in the testing service company noticed about both projects he was wondering why they did not apply the same automated solution for both customers which the business managers refused for the higher revenues they got for manual checking.

The vendor of the testing tool also recognized this fact because their Indian outsourcing partner was using their testing tool for building the automated solution for the second customer. According to Soundararajan they were using this fact as a reference  for advertising their testing tool.

Soundarajan derives the following moral(s) from this story:

    1. Humans are made to run tests that humans were never supposed to. 
    2. When automation kicks in - comparison to humans and automation also kicks in - indicating how poor their understanding of testing is.
    3. Business decisions can decide how boring testing can become.
    4. Most large services companies remain large at the expense of killing software testing and upcoming testers.
    5. Software testing tools are as useful as spoon and fork - they are needed everyday but shouldn't cost as much as a Ferrari.
    6. The world needs more bold people than just more skilled testers at the moment. So if you are focusing on training testers, don't just teach them testing.
    7. Those who trade their time for money and are designated as testers aren't testers anyway.
    8. Most often, companies that are proud of building the best or popular software testing tool are actually putting the field to shame.
    9. The best software testing tool is always the human brain. It can operate in "non thinking" mode too and unfortunately seems to be the popular mode among most testers since they are paid for it. 

Some readers commented to the blog posting. For example, Joe disagrees this is a general problem:

Be careful not to generalize here. I once worked for a test automation tool company. We pointed proudly to the fact that we always used our tool to test new versions of our tool.
Not all tool companies should have shame.

Other readers support the points the posting makes such as Mahathi Ramya:

nice post Pradeep.. i think almost everyone working in IT field might have noticed what you have explained.
completely agree with below sentence:
Most large services companies remain large at the expense of killing software testing and upcoming testers.

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Good post by Naresh Chintalcheru

I see some of the points are valid.

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