What I learned from Practitest’s State of Testing Report 2021

Look at the rules, not the exceptions

Now in its 8th year, the SOT Report provides testers with some valuable trend-based information on all things testing. The full report in all of its chart based glory was delivered today, and is well worth bookmarking. You can read the full report here.

Sometimes, when attending meetups, conferences or reading online articles, the loudest voices are often those with the most exceptional experiences. But we may discover this fact long after our own Imposter Syndrome has reprimanded us for not living up to their ideals. We may find ourselves wondering “I’ll never be a proper tester, I don’t even write unit tests” or “I’ve never done test coaching/worked on IoT technology/done BDD/shifted left/[insert plethora of missing skills]” so is there even a future for me in this industry?

Stats tend to be more accurate at revealing general trends. As I did at my Testbash Manchester talk, rather than focusing on the exceptions, I want to pull out some of the rules. How the majority of people who consider themselves to work in Testing define what they do, what they call themselves, and how they work.

Nope, its not sexy. But it is reassuring to learn that out of all the responses:-

  • 28% are known as “Test/QA engineers”, only 0.89% Test Coach and 2.14% are SDETS.
  • 74% and 60% test Web and Mobile, only 9% IoT and 18% Big Data.
  • 92% work in Agile environments, only 27% use BDD.
  • 75% have tasks that involve Test Automation & Scripting, 68% validating users stories. Just 15% are tasked with Unit Testing (and that’s down 3% on the year before).
  • 75% use bug tracking tools like Jira, only 14% use exploratory note taking tools.

Its important to note I don’t want to denigrate the activities on the right. At all. But the fact is, waaaaaaay more folk are doing the things on the left. You just don’t hear about it.

For me, this report puts into sharp relief some of the misconceptions doing the rounds, that you have to know how to do all this stuff to be successful. You don’t. Why? Because as with so much in testing, the answer is often “it depends”. BDD is a great fit for some organizations, but not for all.

Learn the fundamentals, safe in the knowledge that what you may be learning at your current place in terms of processes, tooling or skills could go out of the window at your next company. And that’s totally fine.

Testing is a broad church, and there is still a seat for everyone.

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