Mastering T-Shaped Skills
T-shaped skills have become increasingly important for software engineers in test as the role of testing and quality assurance becomes more critical in the software development lifecycle. T-shaped skills refer to a combination of deep technical expertise in a specific area and a broad understanding of other related disciplines. In other words, it is the combination of having a broad skill set and a deep knowledge of a specific area that sets T-shaped software engineers apart.
For a software engineer in test, having T-shaped skills can lead to a more comprehensive and effective testing process, which can result in higher quality software and increased customer satisfaction. This is because T-shaped software engineers are able to test software from a variety of angles, taking into account different technical aspects as well as business requirements.
Long T (deep technical expertise)
The deep technical expertise of a T-shaped software engineer in test is crucial. This knowledge allows them to understand how the software being tested works, what its strengths and weaknesses are, and how to identify and address potential issues. In addition, this expertise enables them to design and execute effective test cases that can validate the functionality of the software and help ensure that it meets both technical and business requirements.
More importantly, deep technical expertise allows testers to deliver results. Even the best plan is useless without execution.
These skills are highly recommended for software engineers in test to invest time in, and I recommend building advanced knowledge in at least one of them.
Programming + test automation
Programming and test automation have become critical skills for professionals in the test engineering industry. As the pace of software development continues to accelerate, it has become increasingly important for testers to be able to work efficiently and effectively. Programming allows testers to automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks, freeing up valuable time to focus on more complex and valuable testing activities. With the help of test automation, testers can create, execute, and analyze test cases quickly and accurately, leading to better software quality and faster delivery times. In addition, programming skills are essential for collaborating with developers to identify and fix defects early in the software development cycle.
As software applications and systems become more complex, the risk of security breaches and cyber attacks continues to rise. This is where security testing comes into play. Security testing involves the evaluation of the software system or application to identify vulnerabilities and potential security risks. With security testing, testers can assess how secure a system is by simulating different types of attacks, including penetration testing, vulnerability scanning, and threat modeling. By performing security testing, testers can identify security flaws and risks that could otherwise go undetected, allowing development teams to address these issues and prevent them from becoming security threats. Security testing is essential for protecting sensitive information, ensuring regulatory compliance, and maintaining customer trust. Without security testing, an application or system can be exposed to serious security risks, which can result in data breaches, financial loss, and reputational damage.
TestOps and Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD)
TestOps and Continuous Integration/Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) have become essential aspects of modern software development and testing processes. TestOps involves the integration of testing activities into the overall software development process, with a focus on optimizing and automating testing processes. With TestOps, testing activities are no longer siloed and isolated from the rest of the development process but rather integrated into the entire software delivery lifecycle. This allows development and testing teams to work collaboratively and efficiently, resulting in faster feedback cycles, shorter release cycles, and higher-quality software. CI/CD, on the other hand, involves the automation of the software delivery process, from code integration to deployment. This enables the delivery of new features and functionality more frequently and reliably, with less risk and effort. By automating the software delivery process, organisations can achieve faster time-to-market, reduce the risk of human error, and deliver software that is more stable and reliable.
Test management is a critical component of software testing and plays a significant role in ensuring the success of a software testing project. Test management involves the planning, design, execution, and reporting of tests, as well as the management of test assets such as test cases, test plans, and test data. Effective test management ensures that testing is conducted efficiently and effectively, with a clear understanding of the scope, objectives, and requirements of the project. It provides visibility into the progress of testing, enabling stakeholders to make informed decisions about the quality and readiness of the software for release. Test management tools help to automate and streamline testing activities, reducing the time and effort required to manage the testing process. This allows testers to focus on higher-value activities, such as exploratory testing and test analysis, resulting in higher-quality software.
By developing expertise in these key areas, software engineers in test can become true experts in their field and make a significant impact on the quality and success of software development projects. Additionally, these skills will position software engineers in test as valuable contributors to the development team and valuable assets to their organization.
Short T (breadth of knowledge)
However, having just deep technical expertise is not enough. A T-shaped software engineer in test must also have a broad understanding of other related disciplines, such as software development methodologies, project management, and customer needs. This broader understanding helps them to communicate effectively with development teams, understand the bigger picture of the project, and prioritize testing tasks in a way that supports the overall goals of the project.
In addition, having a broad understanding of related disciplines can help T-shaped software engineers in test to identify potential risks and issues that may not be apparent from a purely technical perspective. For example, they may be able to see how changes in one part of the software can impact other parts, or how changes in the business requirements may affect the software’s functionality. This ability to see the bigger picture helps them to make more informed testing decisions, which can result in a more comprehensive and effective testing process.
Once again, the following skills are highly recommended for software engineers in test to invest time in. It’s also important to have basic knowledge of the items listed above in long T section.
Agile methodologies have become increasingly popular in software development and testing, and are now considered an essential part of the software testing industry. Agile methodologies focus on delivering software in short iterations, with a focus on collaboration, flexibility, and continuous improvement. By breaking down projects into smaller chunks, Agile enables faster delivery of software and more rapid feedback, resulting in higher-quality software. Agile also promotes collaboration between development and testing teams, allowing for better communication, faster issue resolution, and more efficient delivery of software. Agile methodologies also emphasize continuous testing, which involves testing throughout the development cycle, rather than just at the end. This approach ensures that software is tested thoroughly and frequently, with issues caught early in the development cycle when they are less expensive to fix.
DevOps practices have become increasingly popular in the software testing industry in recent years, and for good reason. DevOps is a set of practices that combines software development (Dev) and IT operations (Ops) to enable faster delivery of software. DevOps practices emphasize collaboration, communication, and automation, with a focus on removing barriers between development, testing, and deployment. By automating manual tasks, DevOps practices enable faster delivery of software, with greater efficiency and higher quality. DevOps practices also promote continuous testing, which involves testing throughout the software development cycle, ensuring that issues are caught early and that software is delivered with fewer defects. DevOps practices also prioritize feedback, enabling teams to continuously monitor and evaluate the software to identify and address issues quickly. Overall, DevOps practices are essential in today’s software testing industry, allowing teams to deliver software more quickly, efficiently, and with higher quality, while fostering collaboration and continuous improvement.
Database testing / SQL / Big Data
Database testing, SQL, and big data have become critical skills for professionals in the software testing industry. In today’s data-driven world, data is a key asset, and it’s important to ensure that it’s properly managed, stored, and tested. Database testing involves evaluating the data stored in a database to ensure that it is accurate, reliable, and secure. This includes testing the integrity of the data, verifying the correctness of the database schema and ensuring that data is retrieved accurately. SQL, on the other hand, is a programming language that is used to manage and manipulate data stored in relational databases. It’s important for testers to have a basic understanding of SQL to ensure that they can query data effectively and efficiently. With the growth of big data, it’s also important for testers to have an understanding of big data technologies, such as Hadoop, Spark, and NoSQL databases. These technologies have unique testing challenges, and it’s important for testers to be able to identify and address issues specific to big data systems.
Cloud computing / AWS / Google Cloud
Cloud computing, AWS, and Google Cloud have become essential in today’s software testing industry. Cloud computing enables software development and testing teams to access a wide range of computing resources and services over the internet, including servers, storage, databases, and more. AWS and Google Cloud are two of the leading cloud platforms, offering a wide range of services and tools that can be leveraged by software testers to improve testing processes. With cloud computing, software testers can quickly provision and deprovision testing environments, allowing them to test more efficiently and cost-effectively. Cloud-based testing also enables testers to simulate real-world scenarios by replicating different infrastructure setups, testing across multiple locations, and more. Additionally, cloud-based testing also offers scalability, enabling testers to increase the scale of their testing efforts quickly, as required. With the rise of cloud computing, it’s essential for software testers to have an understanding of AWS and Google Cloud, as well as the cloud-based tools and technologies available to them.
Mobile testing / iOS & Android
Mobile testing has become an essential component of software testing as the use of mobile devices continues to grow. Mobile testing involves the evaluation of mobile applications to ensure that they function correctly, are easy to use, and provide a seamless user experience across a wide range of devices, operating systems, and network conditions. Testing mobile applications is a complex and challenging task, with unique testing requirements such as understanding different mobile device resolutions, network connectivity issues, and diverse user environments. Mobile applications can be developed for different mobile operating systems, such as iOS and Android, and it’s important for software testers to have a good understanding of the specific features, capabilities, and limitations of each of these platforms. Testing mobile applications requires a combination of manual and automated testing, and the use of a variety of testing tools to ensure that the application performs optimally. Mobile testing is essential for ensuring that mobile applications are reliable, secure, and provide a positive user experience.
By developing proficiency in these complementary skills, software engineers in test can expand their knowledge and understanding of the software development process and become well-rounded professionals. This will help them to better understand the bigger picture of software development and testing and position them as valuable contributors to their team and organization.
T-shaped skills also allow software engineers in test to be more adaptable and versatile. With a deep understanding of their specific area of expertise and a broad understanding of other related disciplines, T-shaped software engineers can effectively switch between different testing tasks and projects. This versatility can be especially important in fast-paced and dynamic environments, where software development methodologies and requirements may change frequently.
In conclusion, T-shaped skills are crucial for software engineers in test. By combining deep technical expertise with a broad understanding of other related disciplines, T-shaped software engineers in test can create a more comprehensive and effective testing process, leading to higher quality software and increased customer satisfaction. They are able to see the bigger picture of the project, communicate effectively with development teams, and prioritize testing tasks in a way that supports the overall goals of the project. If you’re a software engineer in test looking to develop your skills and improve your career prospects, consider focusing on building your T-shaped skills.
Categories: Testing thoughts