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IT testing as a profession

posted Oct 27, 2013, 4:56 PM by Jake Vosloo   [ updated Oct 27, 2013, 5:01 PM ]

Once again I realise how slow business managers are in catching up with and grasping the opportunities and risks involved in what is often dismissively called I.T.  For example, the testing of IT systems (software, networks and hardware) has never really featured on the CEO's dashboards or at Business College.  Yet, it is probably one of the most powerful risk management functions within an organisation.  This was recently highlighted, courtesy of Knight Capital and the investigations following their small ($400 million) blunder.

Testing of IT systems is very similar to the auditing of financial books. It is the double entry method for technology systems, first enter the code into the computer and secondly enter the expected results into the tests.  No amount of business requirements, system designs, architectures or other documentation can make up for a lack in testing.  If your organisation is not prioritising testing over documentation then you are doomed to have high overheads, low returns and unmanageable risks.

It's amazing how low middle management's regard for their testing resources are and how little they expect of their testers.

  • Management should expect testers to be involved in the design of every system, the functional tests should be part of the business requirements (BDD).
  • The testers should be involved with the architects in defining the non-functional tests of the architecture.
  • The testers should be involved in the development phase by automating the functional tests and integrating with the unit tests provided by the developers.
  • Finally, the testing phase itself should not exist because it should already be done when development is complete.

I am inspired to see people like Aldo Rall go to great lengths to explain the benefits of proper testing to business and IT management. If you are a senior manager you should understanding how IT gets work done.  If you are an IT manager, you should consult with people like Aldo on how to improve your testing division.