the future of software testing (part 1)

This is the first post of a multipart series on my predictions about the future of software testing and how testers of the future will do their job.

Outsourcing. It’s a familiar term and the way a lot of testing gets done here in 2008. However, it wasn’t always so and it’s not liable to be that way in the future either. In this post I will talk about how I think testing will get done in the future and how outsourcing might fundamentally change as a business model for software testing.

In the beginning, very little testing was outsourced. Testing was performed by insourcers, people employed within the same organization that wrote the software. Developers and testers (often the same people performing both tasks) worked side by side to get the software written, tested and out the door.

The vendors’ role in the insourcing days was to provide tools that supported this self service testing. But the vendors’ role soon changed as demand for more than just tools surfaced. Instead of just providing tools to insourcers, vendors emerged that provided testing itself. We call this outsourcing and it is still the basic model for the way many development shops approach testing: hire it out.

So the first two generations of testing look like this:

                    Generation                   Role of Vendors

                    (1st) Insourcing              Provide tools

                    (2nd) Outsourcing          Provide testing (which subsumes the tools)

The next logical step in the evolution of testing is for vendors to provide testers and this is exactly the era we’ve entered with crowdsourcing. Yesterday’s announcement by Utest marks the beginning of this era and it is going to be very interesting to see it unfold. Will crowdsourcers outperform outsourcers and win this market for the future? Clearly market economics and the crowds’ ability to execute will determine that but my personal view is that the odds are stacked in favor of the crowd. This is not really an either-or situation but the evolution of the field. The older model will, over time, make way for the newer model. This will be a case Darwinian natural selection played out in the matter of only a few short years. The fittest will survive with the timeframe determined by economics and quality of execution. Crowdsourcing has much going for it including the sheer number of tests and test environments that can be brought to bear by the size and expertise of the crowd.

That gives us the third generation:

                    (3rd) Crowdsourcing      Provide testers (which subsumes the testing and tools)

And what about the future? Is there an aggressive gene buried deep in the DNA of our discipline that will evolve crowdsourcing into something even better? I think so, though it may be years and a few technological leaps away. I’ll coin a new term for now just to put a name on this concept: testsourcing.

                    (4th) Testsourcing         Provide test artifacts (which subsumes the testers, testing and tools)

Testsourcing cannot be explained however without one key technological leap that has yet to occur. This technological leap is virtualization will be described in part two of this series.

Comments (13)

  1. Philk says:

    isnt this process inefficient, waiting for the crowds to ( hopefully ) find the bugs then fix them ?

    might work for the consumer s/w market where the crowd has the right equipment to test on, what about all the other markets, how will they do their testing in the future ?

  2. strazzerj says:

    Other than the pay-per-bug aspect, how is Crowdsourcing different from a public Beta?

    I’d hesitate to call it "the next logical step in the evolution".  To me, it’s more like an odd mutation that we’ll all watch to see if it lives, or dies quickly.  I think I’m betting on the latter, but haven’t yet decided (funding can allow very strange mutations to survive far longer than one would imagine).


  3. Joshw says:

    I agree with that. It’s impossible now days to really validate and test complicated functionality on all the  available platforms. Having the ability to use the crowd as a cloud testing lab can be a great benefit.  

  4. MSDNArchive says:

    You are right that the crowd won’t have specialized equipment but future innovation will take care of much of that (sorry to keep you hanging, but I am working on those posts now). But think how many bugs users find … those are the exact ones I expect the crowd to also excel at finding. That’s one reason I view the crowd with great anticipation and hope.

  5. Philk says:

    I presume MS tracks the bugs the users find that MS testers missed – is there any pattern to them, are you putting any effort into working out why the crowd finds them and you miss them ?

  6. strgpune says:

    I just saw your video. It one of the most inspirational talk I have ever heard about software testing. I thank you for that.

    Future of software testing: From your video, one can easily understand what is coming our way and what needs to be done to grow the career as a software testing professional.

    You have raised many important ideas and one of such idea is TestSourcing. In my opinion, it will be also important to understand "future of the software development" along with it. It is painful to see when I find someone using analogy of manufacturing processes with software development and testing and bringing in thoughts from manufacturing processes such as Lean development and all. The fundamental mistake that I see here is comparison of human’s mind creation with machine’s creation. software dev and test is a mental activity and it must be compared with similar activity in manufacturing, which could be the "design" process of any automobile, airplane, etc. If what you have discussed in video is going to happen in next 10 years, what can be expected from a world like this, that has confusions about right comparisons.

    The question that I have is how a tester in future will have to think?

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  8. [ Nacsa Sándor , 2009. február 6.] Ez a Team System változat a webalkalmazások és –szolgáltatások teszteléséhez

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  12. Pete K says:

    Testsourcing is sort of mix of charged ready -to-go tools with truly professional testing/QA people using it. Client does not care about infrastructure as it is provided for their whole team and resources as they are prepared and managed to meet client needs and start contributing from day 1.

    Here is what folks do – they have community proven by Linkedin profiles and enterprise-friendly project management Jira and additional tools such as Gredy, Selenium and Soap UI which are in cloud and available on-demand. Moreover they have partnership/affiliate program "Test Freeway" –