Why is software testing undervalued?
Unfortunately, software testing is consistently undervalued within development. Which in turn means that many software testers feel underappreciated. Strange when you know how significant testing can be for organisations of all shapes and sizes. Here we look at the value of testing before attempting to answer the question: Why is software testing undervalued?
It is official: Testers feel underappreciated
A bold statement for sure, but one which sadly seems true. In a recent eTestware LinkedIn poll, we asked software testers a simple question: “Do you feel undervalued / underappreciated?”
At the time of writing, the poll has been running for 4 days and a staggering 88% of respondents have selected, “yes”. But why is this? Why do they feel this way? Answering this will also answer the question in the title of this piece. In an article published by theICEway in 2021, a former eTestware software tester revealed why she thought testing was often overlooked. ‘The Relationship between psychology and testing’ lists psychological factors as one reason. Both ‘confirmation bias’ and ‘cognitive bias’ combine to make testing seem destructive, meaning that many organisations skip it altogether. In this instance, testers have every right to feel as though they are being unfairly treated because they know the benefits of software testing.
The benefits of software testing vs the (perceived?) drawbacks
We have often extolled the virtues of testing but here are some key examples:
- If you adopt software testing, you will save money
- Your customers will be more satisfied as their user experience (UX) will be improved
- Software testing can also prevent large-scale corporate incidents
Bearing these points in mind makes the ‘undervalued’ element all the more questionable. What are the reasons? Here are a few possibilities:
- Software testers must be aware of exact user journeys plus outcomes, otherwise they will struggle to create test cases that can help perform accurate tests (this invariably uncovers UX issues to fix)
- During the requirement gathering phase, testers need to rely upon accurate and comprehensive documentation (vital information that has been communicated verbally in the development phase is often not present)
- In testing, applications are accessed from thousands of device-browser-platform combinations simultaneously, meaning that robust apps are required for the most widely used of these (this is rare)
These points suggest that testers are the first people to question a software product and / or a software development team. True, the development phase may contain much internal debate and a clashing of views. But the software testers then come in and start to really question what has been done and why… Which can feel quite critical. This could also be unwelcome, because how do they know better than the team which built the product in the first place?
Why is software testing undervalued? Perhaps the answer is less scientific than it is emotional. Maybe it is simply a question of ego. Would that really make an organisation downweigh the oft-spoken about benefits though? Hard to say. What do you think?