Why a career in testing makes sense
By: R SUBRAMANYAM
Wipro employee Deepika Mamnani chose testing as a career over her
earlier role as a software programmer. A move that few years ago would have
shocked her peer group. Testing, back then, was a least desirable
function within the IT fraternity. Programmers, when asked to be a part of a
testing project, would actually view it as a punishment.
There, however, is a noticeable change in attitude, with techies over
the years taking on to testing. Project leaders at software services
firms say that the interest level in testing as a job is growing.
Persuading software professionals to move to testing is no longer needed. Many
developers are, in fact, asking to be a part of the test team at IT
For large software companies, the change in mindset in the techie
community has come at the most appropriate time, as income generated from
testing services is growing every quarter.
Big players in software services like Infosys and Wipro, for one, are
increasing their investment on testing. Tier II software vendors like
Cognizant and stand-alone testing service providers also say that
business is booming. "Testing services", says G Sumitra, director, testing
practice at Cognizant, "is a key growth driver for the IT industry."
Helping it gain traction are the rapid increase in the number of
transactions going online and the growing number of productivity-critical
applications, both of which have made a robust testing infrastructure
With many testing tools being out in the marketplace, the ability to
provide fully-integrated testing services in different environments has
also been made possible, she explains. Further, many product companies
are adapting to independent testing, verification and validation to
crunch the cycle time for deployment of their products.
Echoing a similar view, Suresh Vaswani, president, Wipro Infotech, says
that few years ago the downsize of an enterprise application would not
cause much damage. Not any longer, as companies have to make sure that
applications - especially the customer-facing ones - are glitch-proof,
which can be possible only through rigorous testing.
Technology analysts firm Gartner's analysis of the testing market
reveals its huge potential. The estimated market for software testing is $13
billion which is 39% of the global outsourcing business. About 30% of
an application life-cycle is testing and around 80% of it can be
outsourced, Gartner says.
While the importance of testing has been established, to what extent it
is needed, depends on the nature of an application. Life-critical
applications such as aerospace and healthcare, for instance, need thorough
testing than those applications which are not. Similarly, applications
used by a bank need to be almost defect free.
Gangadharaiah C P, senior vice-president, Wipro, says for consumer
goods like mobile phones, testing is vital. If the product fails while in
use, manufacturers would lose both reputation and market share.
India is steadily emerging as a key hub for software testing, and
testing is becoming one of the fastest-growing service lines in the offshore
space, say software service vendors. With increased usage on Internet
driving the market demand for applications, the market for testing is
expected to be a fundamental part of the software industry.
By outsourcing software testing, clients can reduce the cost of quality
by up to 30%. This savings can be redeployed for releasing new
features, says Arun Ramu, vice-president, independent validation services,
Infosys, adding that rigorous validation methodologies ensure that
applications are defect-free before they are exposed to stakeholder.
Both Infosys and Wipro, the two big software vendors, are seeing a
quantum jump in earnings from testing services. This service for Infosys
contributed to 6.2% of the company's Q2 FY 06 revenue of Rs 2,294 crore.
For Wipro, testing services earned $68 million in the first half of
FY06. Revenues from this service in FY05 was $90 million. "We are seeing
consistent growth each quarter," says Gangadharaiah.
Ditto for Cognizant, which says that testing services is its fastest
growing new offering. In calendar 2004, the number of career testers grew
from 200 to over 1000. "We expect it to double in size in calendar 2005
taking the headcount of career testers to 2000," says Sumitra.
While large players, both domestic and multinational, are battling it
out to grab a large chunk of the outsourced testing services, companies
that offer testing as a stand-alone service say they too are seeing
The presence of big boys is not a threat, they say. ThinkSoft - which
specialises in providing testing service to banking, financial and
insurance segment - says that the many clients prefer to go to independent
testing vendors, rather than to a company which also offers testing
along with application development and maintenance (ADM) services.
Vanaja Arvind, executive director, ThinkSoft, says that domain
expertise that the company has built over several years is unmatched. This
gives it a strong competitive advantage. Big and medium size vendors too,
are using the domain expertise as a trump card to highlight their
Cognizant says that the two big differentiators for its testing
services are domain-aligned testing, and automated testing. Wipro says that
along with domain knowledge, it is the early start in this space which
gives it an upper edge. "We offer several in-house developed point
solutions and frameworks such as defect prediction and capture tools," says
Compared to the traditional ADM service, testing lends itself more to
offshoring, a feature that software vendors find very attractive.
Vaswani says that offshore component in testing is as high as 80%, compared
to 70% in ADM and 50% in package implementation service offerings.
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