Why Testers Are Starting to Look More like Developers: An Interview with Mike Faulise

[interview]
Summary:
In this interview, Mike Faulise, the founder and managing partner at tap|QA, explains how organizations are trying to move toward continuous integration and taking in automation. Consequently, he says, testers are cultivating more technical skill sets and starting to look more like developers.

Jennifer Bonine: All right, we are back with our last interview of this segment before you guys see some more presentations, and I'm here with Mike Faulise.

Mike Faulise: Hello.

Jennifer Bonine: Mike, thanks for joining us again.

Mike Faulise: Hello.

Jennifer Bonine: Mike is one of the founders of tap|QA. So, why don't you tell us, Mike, a little bit about what you're seeing here as an owner that does pure-play QA and just focuses on quality? Obviously, a great place for you to be, being that there's lots of testers here and lots people of people worried about quality.

Mike Faulise: We love it here at STARWEST. Hashtag STARWEST, hashtag tapQA.

Jennifer Bonine: There you go, so now you can all tweet us, I think. Right?

Mike Faulise: Yes.

Jennifer Bonine: Okay, good. What we want to do is talk about some of … As an owner of an organization, you obviously deal with lots of companies, organizations, you're out there talking to different people. What are some of the things you're hearing, what are people worried about? What should people be thinking about right now?

Mike Faulise: Sure. You know, I think it's been interesting. We've seen a lot of organizations try to merge and go towards CI—continuous integration—and really taking in automation. One of those trends has been that the tester is now starting to look more like a developer. The hard part for organizations is that that requires a much more technical skill set. So, for our QA organizations that, whether you're a five-person or a couple of people or twenty people, when you start having technical QA people, there is become a very large attrition rate for a technical tester.

What I mean by that is that the trend is that somebody learns how to code in C# or Java, they stay within a group for a little bit, and then they end up going to become a developer. So there may not necessarily be attrition outside the organization, but it's attrition within just a QA group. So we're having a very tough time, just as a QA community, keeping technical testers employed within the QA organization.

So that's been something that we've had to … you know, really looking at large Fortune 100, 5000 organizations, kind of looking at, "Is this a skill set that we actually want to internalize?" So, what we've really started to look at is, the trend now has been that this is a skill set that's definitely needed for agile and lean and, doing CI automation, we need this skill set. But it may not be one that we can long-term have at an organization. So either you have to use your organization as a feeder-pool for developers to say, "Hey, you're going to start here for six months, then you're going to go into development, but you got to make sure that this is maintainable." That's one way to do it, and I think that's a great way to make sure you've got continuity with your CI automation.

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