Independent Testing in other words, testing that is officially done by a third party team that has not been engaged with the source code development, is a serious business. It is a discipline of its own under the larger umbrella of software testing with people who specialize in testing activities ranging from manual to automated, from functional to performance, from compatibility to internalization. A study by Ambysoft in 2013 talks about how Agile organizations claiming to be Agile were. In this study while evaluating the parameter of “validation and verification”, one of the checks done was to see whether an independent third party team was used for testing the software under development. While in several organizations there is a discussion of merging the developer and tester into a single role, especially with how Agile and nimble they need to be, the role of an independent tester is never going to go away, at least in the foreseeable future, given the value they bring in, to the quality of the product. We do continue to see organizations as large as Facebook not having a quality team of its own, but we also steadily continue to see newer organizations (e.g. WIKIMEDIA) christening the new role of a software tester.
While we continue to emphasize the prominence of the role in the future, despite mergers with that of the developer in certain groups and organizations, the tester has an important role to play in shaping his and the discipline’s future. He needs to the quality consultant and advocate not just in own team but also within the larger product team, has to be ready to take on bigger and better challenges (whether it is TDD, whether it is interfacing with end users, whether it is learning new test automation tool functionalities or whether it is understanding newer computing technologies). Such readiness of the tester and actual implementation on the ground are critical to give “independent testing”, its facelift into the future. Also, there will be situations where the tester will need to collaborate with the developer to a larger extent than he did in the past – whether it is pairing with him to understand the system internals, or taking on a paired development and testing effort. These are going to increasingly become inevitable in the future. In all of these situations, it is in the tester’s best interest that he has to step out of the development zone and mind set, to maintain his independence in the testing effort.
The scope of software testing is only going to rise, with technology becoming omnipresent in all disciplines – whether it is wearable computing that is slowly penetrating the market, or the ongoing aggressive software development in the mobile app world or end user centric web applications or enterprise world applications, to name some. Independent testing is a better understood and accepted term in the industry now than it was, a decade ago. While, there are some forces, including a questioning on the cost spent on independent testing, that will attempt to merge it with the product development effort, with the right focus from the test team and the other market forces (be it end user needs, competition, time to market etc.) at play, the world of independent testing will stand tall and high into the coming years, staying clear of all the distractions it may occasionally face.