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How far should a software testing role extend? Further than you think

It's a rapidly evolving world for software testers today, so the onus is on them to be open to new experiences. Expert Gerie Owen explains why testers need to own it all.

I've been a tester for almost 15 years, and I consider myself an expert. My company is now insisting we start looking at things that aren't involved in the functional requirements and the UI. I have said this is the developers' responsibility. What are your thoughts on the software testing role?

Where have you been for the last few years? Testing, in most organizations, is much more than you describe. The role of testers has expanded significantly to include security, reliability, maintainability and the other "-ilities." In addition, testers are expected to evaluate the overall fitness of an application for its intended purpose, as well as report on the risk of deploying an application at a given time.

You may not see requirements reflecting the nonfunctional needs of the application. More often, these are expressed as IT or organizational policies and are applied across all applications used in the organization. Depending on how you manage your requirements, they may not have even been transcribed into your requirements management software.

But make no mistake, these requirements exist. No organization can develop or customize its software today without having them. There are too many things that can go wrong with software that don't have anything to do with its features. For example, security holes can open up your entire infrastructure to an attacker, or an application may not be meeting the needs of its users.

Given today's software testing role, I would be surprised if you aren't looking at security, fitness for intended purpose and other application characteristics that don't fall squarely in the realm of function.  Functional testing is increasingly the realm of automation, and testers have been broadening their portfolio with a larger definition of what constitutes quality. This means learning more, but it results in better software and a more satisfying software testing role.

Because of automation, the scope of manual testing is shrinking. At the same time, the need for software quality is more important than ever. The testing profession is responding, and you may have some catching up to do in order to participate in the evolution of testing.

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