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Tech perfection

Testing software is a science and not an art; people in this business are required to do a lot of firefighting, says Vandana Ramnani. Read on for details.

education Updated: Sep 22, 2011 11:50 IST
Vandana Ramnani
Vandana Ramnani
Hindustan Times

An aircraft has 1617 subsystems and 19 million lines of codes. Locating a defect is, therefore, like looking for a pin in a haystack. So, who does an airline depend on to keep the flying machines in ship-shape condition? The answer would be an IT tester, who is a professional who will perhaps know more about the aircraft than the man piloting it.

That’s not all. People in this business are required to do a lot of firefighting. If the software used in the stock market were to crash tomorrow, the guy who may have the antidote to set it right is again an IT tester. He is literally a jack of all trades and a master of everything tech.

IT testers have to ensure that any new software produced is up to mark before it is delivered. Defects in the systems are also serviced by them.

Pradeep Chennavajhula, an IT tester, took up this profession after being in the field of software development and programming for several years. “Many customers I was dealing with were consistently unhappy about the defects in the software that had been delivered to them. I, therefore, decided to dedicate time and effort to scientifically remove software defects,” he says.

“Technically, software testing is much more challenging compared to its development and programming. It is an exciting field and is technically more stimulating. Today, the complexity of software demands that the aspirants are familiar with the tools and technology used in testing. Though initially it may not be a highly paid job, it offers faster growth options to software professionals,” he says.

Chennavajhula, who is an ME from BITS Pilani, is armed with an MBA from Penn State University, US, and is also a certified software tester from QAI Global Institute. What matters to the software professional is not just writing the code but also the quality of the code. “The question I would often ask myself was how come intelligent people produce defective software. My quest from that day onwards was to work towards managing the quality of the software produced.

I realised that quality can be engineered into the product by systematically eliminating defects at various stages of developing a software. Finally, there was a scientific way of finding defects in the software – and that is a science and not an art!”

Testing as a job requires one to be proficient with technical knowledge and experience of the development life cycle, functional domain, and technology and tools used for testing. In addition, it requires individuals to demonstrate a high capability for logical analysis, deduction, reasoning, communication, and presentation skills. Testing is considered as a necessary business-critical skill at par with project management by many organisations today. Individuals aspiring to be testers should demonstrate a high level of observation, perseverance, and technical aptitude to excel in the field.

A tester needs to have functional domain knowledge, programming knowledge and strong communication skills. “In testing, one gets to present the bad news first — the defects in what you have done. It is important, therefore, to articulate a problem in an objective manner,” he says. Testers also need to have strong observation skills. There are things that they can’t learn on the job such as stock exchange functioning, mechanical aspects of how a ship or an aircraft may work etc. Companies when they hire IT testers, look for people who are quick on the uptake.

As a tester, the challenges that one may face is lack of appreciation and acceptance of engineering quality, resistance to involvement of testers in the early stages of development, lack of talent, lack of belief that testing is scientific, systematic, creative and technically more challenging and lack of management support for quality delivery.

As software becomes more complex, the demand for quality shall increase and testing will be critical for businesses in India as well as overseas.

“My advice to students is jump in now, learn, and grow,” adds Chennavajhula.

What's it about?
The job of a tester is to find defects in the software delivered, expose risk of delivery to the management, minimise risk of delivery to customers and ensure conformance to requirements India corners a total of 70 per cent of the outsourced testing services market. More than 35,000 testers are needed in the country

Clock Work
8:00 am: Report at work and plan for the day; debrief meeting
. 9:30 am: Identify critical issues and plan for resolutions
. 10:30 am: Allocate activities for individual team members
. 11:15 am-01:00 pm: Review test designs, and work on corrections
. 3:00 pm-05:00 pm: Client discussions and reporting of defects and their criticality
. 5:00 pm-05:30 pm: Brief team on the changes as required
. 5:30 pm-07:00 pm: Work with the development team on resolution of the defects
. 7:30 pm: Log out for the day and leave for home

The Payoff
Salary structure of a trainee to a director
Test engineer Rs8000 to Rs13,000 a month
Senior test engineer Rs15,000 to Rs20,000
Test lead Rs30,000 to Rs50,000
Test architect Rs50,000 to Rs75000
Test manager Rs75,000 to Rs1,50,000
Head testing Rs1.50 lakh to Rs2.50 lakh

Software quality engineering and programming skills
. Communication and reporting skills
. Planning, team management and coordination

How do i get there?
Organisations interested in trained graduates and generally employ BSc, BE, BCA for technical roles
Software students should focus on technical and soft skills Individuals have to undertake a specialised course in testing

Institutes & urls
. QAI Global Institute, US,
. Edista Testing Institute, Bangalore,
. Amity Soft, Chennai,
. Software Quality Engineering, US,

Pros & cons


High growth industry


Technically stimulating


Excellent growth opportunities


Recession proof


Long working hours


You are expected to be a constant learner

1.5 mN IT experts needed by 2012

A senior professional talks about the industry

How big is the IT testing industry in India?
The software testing industry has increasing growth potential and is proving it for the job seekers. The shortage of supply is making it a well-paid option even for fresh graduates.

The IT Testing Industry is estimated to be a $9.1 billion industry in India. Interestingly, India garners a total of 70 per cent of the world’s outsourced testing services business, and is currently growing at a CAGR of 47 per cent annually as per the estimates. This is expected to grow in the similar manner for the next five to seven years.

Till a few years back, the average deal sizes in outsourced testing projects were about $50,000 to $60,000, requiring a few testers. Only certain parts/types of testing were being outsourced to India. Currently, independent software vendor (ISV) are outsourcing end-to-end testing projects and the average deal sizes are around $2million to $4million.

The number of testers in India, shortfall etc?
The ongoing need for qualified IT personnel in Asia Pacific will fuel major opportunities for IT training and certification in the region and it is estimated that around 1.5 million IT experts will be needed by 2012. According to a recent study, NASSCOM projects 15 per cent growth in the software industry and a shortage of five lakh skilled workers by the end of 2010.

Basic skillsets/eligibility required to become an IT tester
Knowledge of software quality engineering, programming skills, functional domain of the application, skills in automation, communication and reporting skills and international certification.

How different is a testing qualification from an IT qualification
Not very different. While IT qualification mandates individuals to demonstrate the skills for development of an application software, a testing qualification focuses on domain knowledge, automation knowledge and knowledge and experience with software testing skills.

Navyug Mohnot CEO, QAI Interviewed by Vandana Ramnani

First Published: Oct 12, 2010 10:33 IST