The Top 5 Challenges Facing Testers Today

Posted in: Quality assurance testing, Web and software development by: Simon Hill on:

Challenges Facing Testers

The software development landscape has changed dramatically over the last decade. While a lot of time and effort has gone to building new processes, methodologies and even communities for developers to meet the challenge, testing hasn’t seen nearly as much attention. This is a real problem facing testers because the role of the QA department is changing.

The scope of the average QA department is growing wider. There are five major trends that represent serious challenges facing testers today.

Agile development

The original Agile manifesto dates back to 2001, but it has taken years for the processes and methodologies to filter through to the enterprise, particularly for large organizations resistant to change. According to Cap Gemini’s World Quality Report 2014-15, 93% of organizations are now using agile methods compared to 87% in 2013.

To use agile effectively, there has to be a real change in mindset for the tester. Less documentation and a faster build cycle really moves the goalposts. Automation is the most effective way to deal with mounting regression testing. Testers are morphing from gatekeepers hunting defects in a completed piece of software, into advocates for the end user.

Mobile technology

More than 1 billion smartphones will be sold this year and there are, on average, more than 400 new apps released in the iTunes App Store every day. The meteoric rise of mobile technology has shifted the focus for testers to non-functional territory. In some ways, it’s a microcosm of the larger trends. These place greater importance on performance, security and usability, presenting challenges facing testers.

We’ve discussed the importance of real world testing for mobile apps, highlighting some of the unique considerations that make entirely different challenges facing testers when testing traditional software.

Big data

There’s a general acceptance now that there’s huge potential value in gathering and storing data. Although, not every organization collecting data knows how to aggregate and analyze it. Regardless of how it’s used, the process for collecting and storing information in data warehouses is fraught with potential problems and it requires stringent testing.

Without the ability to extract the data error-free when it’s required, the whole process is useless. Testers are increasingly asked to audit these big data trails and ensure that they’re fit for purpose. Handling the sheer volume of incoming data is a challenge in itself. How do you correctly store pertinent data from varied sources when it’s not standardized?

Cloud access

People expect to be able to access documents on a wide variety of devices from anywhere in the world. We’re moving beyond storing files in the cloud for easy access to embedding software and infrastructure in the cloud. We’re even moving testing to the cloud!

This is a big challenge for testing from a performance and security point-of-view. Can the cloud handle the load at different times? Are the correct security checks in place? Does the service provider have a proper backup schedule and disaster recovery plan?

The cloud is convenient, but the risk of security breaches and data loss is very real. The Symantec report, Avoiding the Hidden Costs of the Cloud, found that more than 40% of organizations have lost data in the cloud and two-thirds of them saw recovery operations fail.

Lack of resources

You could argue this has always been a problem facing testers, but a lack of commitment to training and allocating the required resources directly results in a poorer quality end product and customer dissatisfaction. Because testing is about more than the functional, organizations must consider the expertise and tools required to properly test usability, security and performance.

Cap Gemini’s World Quality Report 2014-15 found that the testing proportion of the average IT budget has risen from 18% in 2012 to 26% in 2014. 35% of organizations say they still aren’t satisfied with the budget allocated to testing. The challenges facing testers have to be faced before the other trends can be properly addressed.


Simon Hill

Simon is an experienced freelance technology journalist covering mobile technology, software, and videogames for a wide variety of clients in print and online. He regularly contributes to Digital Trends, Tech Radar, and Android Authority, and he ghostwrites for CEOs in the technology space. After completing a Masters in Scottish History at Edinburgh University, he began his career as a games tester, progressing to lead tester, game designer, and finally producer, before leaving the industry to write full time. He is passionate about the potential for good software and hardware to improve our lives, and strongly believes that thorough testing is a vital prerequisite for greatness.