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Why Software Testers Can't Test

64% of testers currently spend little to no time creating automated tests ?!?

By Noel Wurst, Managing Editor at Skytap

(This article was originally published on the Skytap Blog)

software-testingWhat do software testers most want to do while at work?

What do software testers enjoy the most about their job?

What do many testers struggle to find the time for each and every day?

What’s absolutely critical to the success of your enterprise?

There’s one simple answer to these questions, and it might surprise many non-testers out there. The answer is, “testing software.” It’s what testers signed up to do, it’s their passion, but unfortunately, testers find less and less time each and every day to do the thing they love most—and what you most need from them.

Why?

What are testers doing instead?

Why can’t they just stop doing whatever it is that they are doing, and get back to testing software?

Because many organizations don’t have the assets, environments, and infrastructure necessary to test early and test often—even though these environments are readily available, easily provisioned, and less costly than the outdated and unscalable processes and hardware that continue to handicap dev/test teams around the globe.

A recent survey by IBM and Software Quality Engineering titled "The Future of Testing: Where Do Testers Spend Their Time?" was designed to “explore where today’s testers are spending their time, what obstacles the most often encounter and where they think their attention should be focused.” Like I mentioned earlier, one might think and hope that testers were spending their time testing software, but this survey, and others out there prove otherwise.

Let’s take a look at the results, though I do recommend checking out the entire survey for yourselves.

A nice place to start when looking for the juiciest or most surprising bits of this survey is that 35% of those polled stated that they spend more than half of their week not testing. That’s 87 of the 250 polled claiming that between 20-40 hours (1.5% claimed a full 40 hours!) of their 40-hour workweek is spent not testing. That’s 87 unhappy testers, not improving the quality of your software, or perhaps even worse, the software of your customers—for at the very least, 20 hours every week. Calculate that over a calendar year and we’re talking about over 1,000 hours of testing lost—per tester.

Before we read further into this survey to find out just exactly what these testers are doing if they’re not testing, let’s play devil’s advocate for a minute. We’ve all read about decreased productivity at work, say at the fault of social media, March Madness, or post-holiday online shopping—maybe these half-week or less testers want it this way. Maybe those 20 or more hours spent not testing are spent doing something more fun!

Hardly.

Survey results report that of those polled:

  • 46% want to spend significant time creating automated tests, but 64% currently spend little to no time on it
  • 41% want to spend significant time performing exploratory testing, but 55% currently spend little to no time on it
  • 30% want to spend a significant amount of time executing automated tests, but 68% currently spend little to no time on it

So why can’t testers spend more than “little to no time” on automated and exploratory testing, two areas that provide an obvious impact on software quality? 59% of those polled, the largest percentage for all the available choices, stated that the one activity they wish they could spend less time doing was…”waiting for test assets.” Dagger.

When it comes to actual testing activities that testers would also like to spend less time on, the number one answer was “setting up, configuring, and refreshing test environments.” Obviously I’m a little biased, but it’s difficult for me to think of environments that requite that much setup and configuration time as real “assets” at all.

In closing, these survey results, while perhaps not entirely shocking to someone in the software development field, should at the very least sound some alarms around the level of frustration felt by testers who cannot find the time to test. After all, it doesn’t have to be this way. Waiting on test assets, lengthy setups and configurations, bugs making it into production—these aren’t simply parts of the SDLC. They may have been in the past, but we’re no longer waiting for their solutions to finally appear in the future. They’re here now.

Want proof? You don’t have to look any further than those who responded to this survey by saying that they’re not suffering from these headaches, and who do find the time to test each day. That’s your competition, they’re using things like cloud-based dev/test environments right now, and they won’t always be in the minority.

Creating Complete Test Environments in the Cloud

A top focus for application development today is on acceleration, but faster is not always better. The bigger challenge is to improve the speed and quality of software releases. By utilizing virtualization technology in the SDLC, specifically service virtualization and virtual dev/test labs, companies can increase test coverage in less time and ultimately produce better software faster.

Watch this on-demand webinar to learn how to combine service virtualization with cloud-based dev/test environments to:

  • Develop and test in production equivalent environments
  • Empower teams to develop faster through self-service access
  • Improve software quality through increased test coverage

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Cynthia Dunlop

Cynthia Dunlop, Lead Content Strategist/Writer at Tricentis, writes about software testing and the SDLC—specializing in continuous testing, functional/API testing, DevOps, Agile, and service virtualization. She has written articles for publications including SD Times, Stickyminds, InfoQ, ComputerWorld, IEEE Computer, and Dr. Dobb's Journal. She also co-authored and ghostwritten several books on software development and testing for Wiley and Wiley-IEEE Press. Dunlop holds a BA from UCLA and an MA from Washington State University.

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