Even the best ideas and plans need rigorous testing

By JJ Rosen February 18, 2024
Even the best ideas and plans need rigorous testing

This article originally appeared in The Tennessean.

Click, click again, and then click again.

To most of us it’s tedious, but to a select few it’s fun.

The little-understood role of “tester” takes an eye for detail, patience, and technical know-how.  And the good ones are both perfectionists and good communicators.

Testers are the unsung heroes of the tech world, and outside the tech world they are just plain unsung.

Some call themselves “test engineers” while others are described as QA (quality assurance) professionals.  Although there are differences, the mission is the same: make sure that the software, websites, and mobile apps we all use work to perfection.

Testers play a critical role in the software development process but rarely get the credit they deserve.

No one I know grows up with a dream to become a tester.  Most of us in the tech industry started with the ambition of becoming a genius software developer, a highly respected network engineer or tech startup founder.

But those who land in these more sought-after roles know that without great testers, building great software would be next to impossible.

A tester’s role is to try to break the software that the development team has built.  They test for everything from bugs, to security, to performance with the goal of making sure that when a product is released into the wild it will work as expected.

There are different types of tests that software applications must pass before it goes live.

Load tests check to see if an application can handle a large volume of users without crashing. Security and penetration tests emulate hackers to ensure that by the time an application is launched it will be secure.  And functional tests are designed to confirm that the features of an application or website work as intended.

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There are also different techniques that good testers master.

Manual testing is just what it sounds like—painstakingly trying to find issues one click at a time.  Automated testing involves writing scripts that emulate manual testers with the push of a button.   And now, AI-based testing is starting to catch on.

When I first started programming, I figured I could just test my own software myself.  As every developer knows, this never works.

Just like writers need editors and bookkeepers need auditors, anyone who undertakes complex endeavors needs someone looking over their shoulder to make suggestions and find errors.

So, it’s not only time we give testers, editors, auditors, and the like their due, but it’s time we embrace these roles in all aspects of business.

As a custom software development firm, we recognized the value of QA professionals long ago.  But while we have always prioritized testing the applications we build, we’ve not always applied this to other parts of our company.

Whether it’s coming up with a sales strategy, hiring a new employee, or designing a new logo, having someone to check your work is something we could all benefit from.  As we make our way into the new year, I’m looking for ways to road-test all of our business practices.

For us, the first phase of this is to re-emphasize an office culture where there’s no shame in making a mistake.  The idea is to make sure all of us know that ”business bugs” (like software bugs) are unavoidable—no one is perfect.

Our next step will be to analyze the mistakes (bugs) we have made in the past and figure out how best to test our work to avoid them in the future.   In the software development world, this is the “test plan.”

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After a few more click, click, clicks, I’ll report back to share the results.

JJ Rosen is the founder of Atiba, a custom software development firm and Nashville IT support company. Visit Atiba.com for more info.

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