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Everything you need to know about QA and Agility / SDETs – The point where QA and Agile Meet

Rajesh Prakasam

November 19, 2021

In a market where most software is constantly being improved and equipped with better features in every release, traditional testing certainly is a huge hindrance, and it is considered the #1 bottleneck in software development, according to a Gartner Report on QA. This is why a continuous approach to quality assurance, where quality is a part of the software development from the beginning, becomes crucial. 

 

Software development in an agile method improves how testing is performed. The agile methodology includes quality assurance in every stage, and QA engineers perform continuous testing and provide rapid feedback throughout the development cycle. 

 

Then we go one step further and look at mature agile teams. Multiple organizations with mature agile teams have at least one common factor: skilled software pros who multitask and keep upskilling themselves to adapt to the market demands, especially from a quality assurance point of view.

 

SDET or Software Development Engineer in Test is a role performed by a hybrid software developer involved in both development and testing, and sometimes more in the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC).

Why SDET? / The need for SDET

An SDET oversees the entire SDLC and ensures that the project requirements are met. They can work as developers as well as testers and have the capability to think from both perspectives. Therefore, SDETs will be able to eliminate silos in traditional testing where development and testing do not work in tandem.

Besides identifying the root cause of issues, SDETs can also work on the code to fix the issues. The quick fix of issues facilitated by SDETs translates to faster release cycles without too much dependency on multiple team members. The need to develop and release high-quality software in a short period seals the deal and mandates the presence of an SDET in the team.

What does an SDET do? / Typical roles and responsibilities of an SDET

Although the responsibilities assigned to an SDET may vary depending on the individual’s skills and the organization/team structure, here’s a list of typical duties of an SDET.

  • Understand customer requirements 
  • Create test cases
  • Perform testing
  • Create and maintain reports on development and testing
  • Perform debugging
  • Regularly communicate with all stakeholders
  • Analyze and identify technology gaps and recommend/design tools to improve the product.

Differences between testers and SDETs

A tester is not expected to have programming skills, but an SDET should test and code. Effectively, a tester points out the issues, but an SDET identifies and fixes the issue. Testers are involved only in the testing stage of the SDLC, whereas SDETs are engaged from the beginning of the development process. A tester’s work is independent, and all they have to do is to test once the development is complete.

 

Therefore, a tester does not have to communicate with other team members. On the other hand, the role of an SDET involves communicating with customers, end-users, team members, and the company management. A tester might perform manual testing or automation testing. An SDET develops the tools and test cases required for such testing and performs testing using their developed tool.

 

Skills required for SDET/How you can become an SDET 

To become an SDET, you must develop the following skills:

 

  • Become a skilled developer in one or more programming languages 
  • Understand intricate technical specifications down to the last detail
  • Possess knowledge of different test methodologies
  • Be able to design test cases
  • Understand and perform project management
  • Build test automation
  • Work within Agile method of development
  • Understand business requirements
  • Ability to communicate effectively with the team as well as the client
  • Continuously upskill and keep up with the trends of the market

Other Career Options as an SDET

A quality assurance engineer does not necessarily have to be a developer to become an SDET. Listed below are some areas a QA can learn and the kind of teams they can fit into:

  • Expertise in cloud platforms and services like AWS or Azure – The Cloud deployment team
  • DevOps knowledge – The DevOps team
  • Product management and ownership – The product team
  • Design Skills – The design team
  • Automation expertise – The Java / Angular development team
  • Business operations knowledge – The Acceptance / Operations team

If you’re a quality assurance engineer, choose a field that interests you in addition to quality assurance, specialize in your preferred area, and transform yourself into an indispensable resource for your organization as an SDET. 

Give a list of different fields SDETs can get into, and they can choose whichever area they have exposure/interest/skills in and specialize in that and become an SDET, who will be an indispensable resource for any company. 

 

Manual testing may be a thing of the past, but Quality assurance as a practice will live on forever. People who have multiple skill sets and keep learning and updating themselves will always find a lucrative career in quality assurance.

 

By

Rajesh Prakasam

VP - Digital Engineering

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