Experts predict the most in-demand skills for testers, organizational challenges, best conferences, and more in 2019

If only we had the power to know the future… We would all be rich and live almost forever, no? Well, of course, we can’t foretell what exactly will happen this year. Will Bitcoin make a comeback? Will the teased “The Office” reboot actually happen? One could only dream…

But, we can make hypotheses about the state of software testing, based on where the industry has been headed and thanks to some of the industry experts who devote themselves to modernizing and advancing the profession.

We asked these five industry experts for their take on software testing trends in 2019:

  • Janet Gregory – Agile Coach, Trainer, Quality Process Consultant, Author
  • Jeff Martin – Director of Product and Operations at SmartBear
  • Lisa Crispin – International Speaker, Author, Testing Advocate at Mabl
  • Raj Subramanian – International Speaker, Developer Evangelist at Testim.io
  • Refael Botbol Weiss – Head of Customer Experience at BlazeMeter, Continuous Testing

Here is what they’ve said!

What Will Be the Toughest Obstacles for Test Teams in 2019?

Janet Gregory: 

One large obstacle I still see is thinking about testing as a separate activity and thinking about testers as ‘test teams’. Using terms like test teams reinforces the idea that testers and testing activities are separate, not part of development.” 

Okay, you got us Janet—that’s a badly worded question—but you know what we mean!

Jeff Martin: 

“The greatest obstacles for test teams in 2019 will be how they relate to other teams and professionals working inside the software development lifecycle. With a focus on getting software released very quickly but while maintaining a high quality, collaborative planning and a common language between teams is becoming a necessity. The trend of enhancing technical skills for the QA department will also continue.”

Lisa Crispin:

“I still see too many teams, even so-called agile teams, that still silo their testers, even if technically they’re on a cross-functional team. The dev team operates in a mini-waterfall fashion, doesn’t let the testers participate in planning discussions, doesn’t collaborate with them to test as they code. The stories for the iteration are thrown over the proverbial wall the day before the end of the iteration. I’m not sure why so many teams are stuck in these old ways which never really worked well. Even back when waterfall was feasible from a competitive point of view, projects only succeeded when testers were involved from the initial analysis and design phases and all the way through coding.

I think we humans cling to familiar practices even when they don’t work!”

Raj Subramanian: 

 “I think with the advent of new technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR),  Augmented Reality (AR) it is going to be all the more important for testers to enrich their knowledge in these technologies. The way testers test applications based on these technologies needs a totally different mindset, test setup, test environment/infrastructure and this will probably be the biggest challenge for test teams in 2019.”

Refael Botbol Weiss: 

“Last year, we saw the market embracing serverless more and more (we are now past the first-adopters stage) and I believe that although the tools for developing these functions improved significantly, testing it (functional, performance, integration) is going to be the next challenge to ensure great user experience.”

What Will Be the Most In-demand Testing Skills in 2019?

Janet Gregory:

“There are many skills that are needed, but I think testers need to understand their context. For example, if they are the only tester on a delivery team, they will definitely need to learn teaching skills – how to share some of their testing knowledge with the rest of the team. Or, if they are working with a data warehousing/business intelligence team, they may need to learn a lot more about data integrity and data science.

Like any person in our industry, it is a continual learning experience. Knowing about new trends doesn’t mean you have to learn everything, but it gives a person the opportunity to dig in a little bit more on a subject if they think it will help their team.”

Jeff Martin: 

“As QA becomes increasingly automated, there are two sets of skills increasing in demand. First, the technical chops to be able to build reliable automation integrated into the delivery pipeline. Second, QA is increasingly being asked to expand toward more user experience testing as that is an area better performed by humans than automation.”

Lisa Crispin:

“Test automation skills will remain in demand. Many managers still think the answer to their software quality problems is to automate tests, and they see the testers/QA engineers/SDETs as the people who should do this. High-performing agile and DevOps teams, on the other hand, will hire testers who have excellent communication and collaboration skills, ability to learn the business domain quickly, and ability to work closely with developers and other team members. Knowledge of DevOps practices and continuous delivery principles and tools will be in demand from higher performing teams. Testers who know how to test apps using AI and machine learning will also find many opportunities, IMO.”

Raj Subramanian: 

“It is hard to say what skills will be in demand in any given year, as the market, technology and frameworks have been changing at a rapid pace. Before a person learns about one technology/framework there is another one which pops up and this cycle is endless. So, what I would say is, as testers we need to be curious and open minded in adapting to change, learn and read about the latest trends in technology and be ready for whatever comes in our way for testing.

Also there is a trend for testers to be technical; which is a very generalized word like saying you need to “know IT.” But, I think on a high level the market is more open to testers who have some knowledge on programming languages like Ruby, Python, JavaScript and some knowledge on automation frameworks like Selenium, Calabash, and Cucumber that are quite often used in agile teams. So it does not hurt to know some of these as well.”

Refael Botbol Weiss: 

“I don’t think it’s a particular skill which will be the winning horse…  I believe shifting to a T-shape mindset is more crucial for testers than before. Today, our applications are much more than the code we write, we use thousands of 3rd party libraries, we are relying on automation to increase throughput, and the standards of UX are going up. I believe testers will need to leave the comfort zone of executing tests and embed themselves more into the 2-pizza team to influence and educate but also learn and develop new testing methodologies to catch up with new technology.”

What Tools or Methodologies Are You Excited to Understand Better This Year?

Janet Gregory:

“I’m not sure there is a new methodology around, but I’d like to explore a bit more about quality and what it means to different teams. For example, there is a difference between product quality and quality of your process and many teams get confused in what they measure. Also, there are different points of view in how we perceive quality of our products.

I’d like to find better words to help teams define what they mean.”

Jeff Martin: 

“The most exciting new solutions for me are not technical, but process based. Adopting Behavior Driven Development (BDD) has proven extremely helpful in focusing both development and testing resources on working together in a common language. This greatly cuts communication overhead and helps deliver on the promises of Agile and DevOps and well worth investigation.”

Lisa Crispin: 

“I’m interested in learning more about the DevOps practices and tools teams use to succeed with continuous delivery. I want to grow my knowledge of platform as a service and serverless architecture as well. I’m also working to increase my knowledge of machine learning and how it can be helpful for test automation, analysis of production usage data, and other testing activities.”

Raj Subramanian: 

“I am super excited about the influence of AI in test automation and software testing in general. I know there are lot of people working in the AI testing field on really cool stuff and it will be just a matter of time people realize its potential and a whole community is formed around it. I would personally like to know about 3 things in 2019 1) How AI is used in software testing 2) How to test AI based systems 3) How to be human in the world of AI”

Refael Botbol Weiss: 

“It would be interesting to see what personal assistants will bring, that is a green field for us testers as it adds a new layer which is not always deterministic because there are so many ways to ask a specific question (not to mention other languages which require unique adjustments).” 

What Are the Best Upcoming Conferences Testers Should Attend?

Janet Gregory:

“I may be a bit biased here, but my favourite is the Agile Testing Days conferences – this year, the North American one is in Chicago. Their talks are not only about testing – which is one of the reasons I like the conference – so many choices so attendees are exposed to different ideas. There are also great social activities, and the conference really makes an effort to provide an environment for people to talk with each other.

Another good testing conference that I like is the one (or two) day TestBashes – so far they’ve been mainly in Europe but are making their way to the U.S. as well. They are on a smaller scale and more accessible to many folks.”

Jeff Martin: 

“The STAREAST and STARWEST conferences are always worth attending for any tester.

This year, I would also recommend Atlassian Summit as an interesting conference not only for testing but also for gaining a deep understanding of the other roles in software development.

Automation Guild brings together expert testers and automation experts to enable automation efforts for an online-only conference that’s a great value and doesn’t require flying/hotels.”

Lisa Crispin:

“Next month I will be at European Testing Conference, it’s one of my favorites because it is inclusive of everyone interested in testing and quality, whether or not they self-identify as testers, so it’s a diverse group. There are lots of opportunities for informal conversations and meeting new people. All the workshops are presented twice so there’s more opportunity to get to the ones you want!

In March I’ll be at BoosterConf in Norway, again quite inclusive of all roles and specialties in a software team. There are sessions to help improve both on the tech side and the culture and people side.

I won’t make it to any TestBash conferences this year but I do highly recommend them – a welcoming, energetic community.

I’m super excited to be able to participate in TestingUY in May! I’m lucky to know several testing practitioners from Uruguay and it sounds like an amazing community. There are a lot of exciting testing communities in South America, lots of innovation there.

Agile Testing Days USA and Agile Testing Days Germany are of course among my favorites. This will be my 11th year at Agile Testing Days Germany. It’s a wonderful community where people make lasting relationships and continue to help each other beyond the conference.

I attended my first CAST last year, another one with similar benefits to Agile Testing Days, European Testing Conference and TestBash. It’s a smaller conference where you get the chance to talk to people outside of the sessions as well as high quality content. It will be in Cocoa Beach in Florida again, that is the Space Coast, and you can see rocket launches from the beach at night from the nearby Space Center!

I’ve heard that Nordic Testing Days is a good conference. I also enjoyed the Mob Programming Conference last year, which is in Boston in April. It had several sessions on testing topics. I’ve heard good things about Agile Cambridge. Australia and New Zealand have testing conferences that sound great but I haven’t had the opportunity to go yet!”

Raj Subramanian: 

“I have attended and spoken at multiple conferences in the past 5 years. Based on this experience, I would highly recommend the following conferences:

Domestic Conferences

Agile Testing Days USA

Software Test Professionals Conference 

Agile DevOps East/West Conference

StarEast/StarWest Conference

QAorTheHighway Conference

Targeting Software Quality Conference (Organized by KWSQA)

TestBash

International Conferences

Agile Testing Days Germany

Nordic Testing Days

EuroSTAR

TestBash Brighton

LetsTest

Refael Botbol Weiss: 

“I love meetups…  It is like seeing your favorite band in your neighborhood cafe. There is time for questions, follow up, talking with peers.”

And there you have it!

At Abstracta, we are looking forward to taking on exciting new projects with current and future clients, helping organizations and testers enhance their automation efforts, watch the use of AI in testing grow, break the barriers between development and testing, and attend conferences, especially the one we sponsor each May in Montevideo (our hometown), TestingUY, the largest testing conference in South America!

Tell us, what will be some of the biggest software testing trends in 2019? What do you hope this year will bring?

 


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