I find titles incredibly useful and useless at the same time. This becomes even more apparent when looking in IT shops, especially the testers.
I find titles useful for classifying things and groups of things. In regards to the workplace, and positions, the title helps to identify what job function the person (in theory) specializes in. For example, when needing an application developed, my first though wouldn’t necessarily be the sales rep down the hall, but instead, a developer. If I wanted to know what kinds of features our customers wanted, I would then probably visit the sales rep.
Now, in theory, this gets even more muddled when it comes to people who specialize in testing. QA, Tester, SDET. I’ve seen the three titles used interchangeably a number of times. For the purpose of this post, I’m only going to be using QA and Tester however.
When I first started in testing, it seemed to be that most of the testers around were given the title QA. As time went on, there was a push to have the QA’s re-titled to be testers. I can remember having a discussion while in line for coffee with my lead about a years ago when he asked me where I stood on this discussion. This was due to the fact that the newer IT divisions within our company were only hiring testers, not QA’s. I had stated of course that I preferred tester, as it more accurately described what it was that I was doing in my role.
How times change. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been taking a much closer look at what it is that I actually do at work. One thing that really surprised me, is that I don’t seem to do a whole lot of testing any more. I think that it would be safe to say that lately, I’ve been actually hands on keyboard testing for maybe 6-8 hours per week. Some days, I spend my time writing test automation. Ok, that’s a test activity. Some days I spend my time participating in code reviews or doing a root cause analysis to find the source of a fault in the code. I guess that’s somewhat, maybe kind of related to testing. There’s also days where I spend my entire day showing teams how systems integrate and working on solutions to these bugs. Of course, it’s just scratching the surface, but, you get the idea.
When we look at these types of activities, they don’t outwardly have much to do with testing. Instead, they seem to have much more to do with the whole quality process over all.
Do you find yourself in a similar situation? Are you still passionate and dead set about what your title should be? Does it really matter if you’re a Tester or a QA? If my title was changed to Tester tomorrow and I was going to continue performing the same types of activities, I really wouldn’t mind. For the moment however, I’ve realized that I’m happy with QA, and whatever each individual person happens to think that each letter stands for.