Why utilise a test engineer?

By Liam Brotchie

08 February 2021

Test Engineering is an integral part of the development process. We walk you through why it's so important.

All types of companies, from start-ups to tech giants like Apple and Google, have Test departments which monitor the quality of development. Behind each successful and high-quality product, there is a team of professionals who work on maintaining and improving its quality standard.

From small quick turnaround campaigns to large scale digital transformation projects, we are well equipped to use our practical session-based approach and exploratory testing techniques to deliver maximum impact.

Division of labour

Testing allows focus. Testing can occupy between 25-40% of development time. If we presume a Developer is going to spend their time on testing all possible cases, instead of working on the new features for your business product, they will be preoccupied with tests, where they may be influenced by cognitive biases.

Just as the best writers require an editor, due to a lack of impartiality between writing the code and testing it, Developers benefit from having a Test Engineer review their work.

In 2017, Software Fail Watch estimated the world economy could have saved $1.7 trillion if appropriate tests were carried out before releasing software. It is therefore imperative to onboard and utilise a Test Engineer’s skillset.

Earlier is cheaper

Testing provides clarity in communication. It improves focus on items that really matter. The earlier testing starts, the lower development costs are. The price of a defect is markedly higher if detected towards the end of development than the start (PDF). This is due to the amount of rework required and potential knock-on effects to integrated components.

It is therefore especially important to have a team member who will take care of quality as the development process unfolds early on. A Test Engineer will champion quality throughout the Development Lifecycle. From the design and documentation stage they shall be constantly analysing the product in terms of completeness, clarity, consistency, executability and verifiability.

Utilising the right mindset

Testing lowers development costs. There is a difference between a Developer’s and Test Engineer’s mindset when approaching a project. A Developer’s job is to build and resolve a task by the means of the code. A Test Engineer focuses on verifying and challenging this implementation.

A recent State of DevOps report (PDF) discovered that teams who integrate testing into each stage of the development process spend 22% less time on unplanned work. Test Engineers simulate various scenarios and edge cases to ensure high quality. Their purpose is to find mistakes or trigger them. They sit across two schools of thought: building the right product and building the product right.

By embedding a Test Engineer early, through our continuous feedback they can ensure the product benefits from fast assessment throughout the project lifecycle in order to achieve both goals.

Errors kill brands

Testing protects your brand. Bugs are the bane of every user’s life. In a perfect world a Developer would be expected to write perfect bug free code. In reality, programming mistakes do happen. The problem is that modern applications can be complex to test. This complexity multiplies when you add in features such as a responsive user interface, compatibility testing, non-functional requirements, and user customisation.

Software is not finished when the first version is delivered. Every release adds new features and functionality. That is why regression testing is especially important. Test Engineers can build automated tests into every iteration of a product so that you can be sure the old features are still working whenever newly added items are added.

Stable, well-tested, bug-free software will generate trust with your client base and in turn generate more engagement than buggy, unstable, poorly tested software.

User experience is everything

Testing mitigates against risk. 88% of users will abandon a product based on bugs and glitches a recent survey discovered. A Test Engineer is not just checking that the software works, they are truly testing.

They will consistently ask questions of the implementation and seek the answers through a multitude of test techniques they are trained in – What do users expect? What does the business require? What features are most important? What should it not do? Why?

They will look for edge cases and look for out of the ordinary scenarios so that when these situations arise in production, they will already have been identified, discussed, and mitigated.

The bottom line

No matter how straight forward a project may seem, there can be a lot going on under the hood that affects the quality of the software. We can see that getting things right early in the development cycle can be so important to the success of project goals and for that reason utilising a skill set that moves beyond software verification to software testing is also important.

There is value in peace of mind. Our dedicated Test Engineers will unapologetically push the boundaries of our products in order to make informed, objective assessments and ensure the team produce the best work it possibly can.