I want to start my story from couple short dialogue that happens with me every day. If you are a member of QA/Test community, I think, you also meet them in your professional life.
“You wrote that you are a Senior Quality Assurance engineer. Why senior?”
“It’s just that I’ve been in the company for four years and I know the system better than anyone else”
“Okay, and what is your daily work?”
“I’m testing the system after changes.”
“And you test a lot? And who writes the tests? And who plans the testing process? And who breaks the work into components? And sets priorities?”
“Well, basically, the test manager — but on new features, I, myself, write tests”
“And that’s it?”
“It seems so”
“Then why are you a QA engineer?” I really wanted to ask. But instead, I say “that sounds great”. I smile and walk out of the room to the office.
“We need to QA this feature,” said the familiar developer.
“Not QA it… We need to test it,” I patiently answered and go on through the office.
Then meet HR college.
“Look, we’re here looking for Manual QA in one of the teams,” she said.
“QA engineer…” I correct, “with the skills of manual testing,” I continue.
“Well yes, same shit,” says HR. “We have one candidate and his QA Team Lead has already approved.” she continues.
“Gives me a copy of the candidate’s CV.” I look through the data; I return, “He is a tester, we need a QA engineer.”
HR with an uncomprehending look and a slightly annoyed voice replies, “so we need a tester. Don’t complicate things.”
“Well, if you need a tester then change the job title, or write that we are looking for a QA engineer.”
So I kept going through my path as a Software QA engineer, feeling completely confused; with the lack of order in knowledge, and the sense of complete anarchy in terminology in this field.
At the beginning of my “QA” career, I finished a course at one of the well-known colleges in Israel at the time. The course was called “QA Master” and was held twice a week, in the evening, throughout the year. And at the end, I was awarded two certificates: “Testing Engineer” and “Master QA”. I was very proud that I became a Master QA, even though it did not pay attention to the fact that I’m also a Test Engineer (QA sounded much cooler ). My first serious job made me, unknowingly, engage in QA activities. I only realized this recently — although, essentially, my job was to test engineering, and I already had the title “QA Specialist”. Then another job, and I immediately became a QA engineer. It was demanded that I only test, plan, and design tests. And then it happened, the thing that changed my life…
But half a year ago in a conversation with my very close friend, who is a part-time engineer with a second degree from the Technion (very serious university). I shared problems and ideas with him as usual — how we had to improve quality while mentioning that “we are a QA engineer, should this and these things…” He stopped me and asked, “why did you decide that you are engineers and what’s involved in Quality Assurance? If you have just to test all day long?” That day I could not answer him because, inside, I felt like a QA engineer — but I could not justify the title. I started looking for answers in order to understand the whole QA sphere. And then it really got started…
I began to search for answers by studying courses, which today can be found on the market and in which the name and advertising featured “QA”. Many advertisements claimed many promises, like to make anyone a QA expert in nine months — which is surely a complete deception in any field. But we’re not talking about this today. The problem was completely different. Not in one “QA” course did I find anything related to a QA engineer’s work. Testing: yes. Tools and technology: yes. So “QA” was mentioned only in the name of the course, but there was not another word about it.
I went further: I contacted the community of testers. And I asked a simple question, “who is a QA engineer, and what is the difference between one and a tester (or even a test engineer)? Though I received many answers, it all boiled down to the philosophy of James Bach. “We are all testers,” and everything else is “titles with which people try to inflate their ego.” Therefore, it is a waste of time to study such questions. Okay, I went on looking…
I turned to the great Google. The beginning of the basic Wikipedia definition, which can be summarized as follows: testing is a tool of the Quality Control process, and QA is a set of activities to improve the quality of all processes in development. Too superficial. But after a little digging, I found a deposit of information. And, as it turned out, all the information was tied to classical production, and not to the world of software development. I decided that this should not interfere since in both cases there is a production process and a final product.
After researching and working with several sources, I came to the following conclusions:
- Tester is a state of mind. Like a fighter.
- Each testing specialist has a clear vector of development — from the tester to the test engineer and then the QA engineer. This is a great alternative to going into automation or managers.
- Every QA engineer must be an excellent tester and test engineer. But not every tester is a QA engineer.
- Agile methodology and team approach require each “tester” to be a QA engineer.
- To further develop the professional level of the software QA area, we need to clean up the definition and terminology.
In order to keep things in order, in terms of terminology and roles of QA, I propose you to follow-up with the next article: SQA Revolution – Modern Concept.