Sunday, August 06, 2006

Test Automation - Takes toll of Microsoft Testers ....

I read this old story (Reported by Seattle times in and around Jan 2004) about Microsoft Laying off 62 Testers in Windows group.

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/microsoft/2002155249_mslayoffs20.html

Because (as reported by Seattle times - www.seatletimes.com)

1. They had automation so testers not required.
2. They need to cut cost - either send jobs to India (low cost option) or aggressively automate...

It is pretty sad to note that a company like Microsoft (I am an ex-Microsoftee) is taking step like this. Conventional wisdom and all classical/contemporary literature on Test automation makes it clear that "automation cannot replace human beings and human part of testing". I am at loss to understand why Microsoft (some groups in MS) thought that automation can replace Testers.

This is a story published about more than year ago and is not an official communication from the Redmond based Software giant.

But The Seattle Times, being the largest daily newspaper in Washington state and the largest Sunday newspaper in the Northwest. Well respected for its comprehensive local coverage, The Seattle Times, winner of seven Pulitzer Prizes, is also recognized nationally and internationally for in-depth, quality reporting and award-winning photography and design.

I am afraid it sends wrong signal -- Microsoft should have (might have) done something to set this right...

Anyone listening?

Shrini

7 comments:

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

Its good, if manual testers are fired or layed off, for automation taking front seat.

It creates a need to find a place where their creativity, will take front seat.

Anonymous said...

No testers were laid off because they were replaced by automation. Testers, were, however laid off because they were among a group who:
a) had little or no coding skills
b) had no potential to learn those skills
c) weren't very good testers either

There's a difference, as you know, between button pushers and testers. MS laid off button pushers.

Anonymous because I've probably said too much.

Shrini Kulkarni said...

Hi Pradeep - I am surprised at your comment. Automation taking front seat is good but should it be that cost of manual testers - no way. Your comments shows that you know little about "Automation" and little about "Testing".

what makes you to believe that automation is creativity? It is funny to equate - automation attempts to repeat test steps of a so called manual test case. Do you call this as creativity.

Would suggest you to read about automation and read about Testing.

I would suggest you blog about this comment of yours. see you there

Shrini

Shrini Kulkarni said...

Thanks anonymous for clarifying about firing of button pushers.

I am not sure about designations of those - were they SDETs or STEs?
Going by what you explained it appears that they were laid off for performance reasons.

I am surprised as why Microsoft did not do a good PR work at clarifying this? Can you point to any official clarification this - article, blog post or some thing like that?

Some statements/views mentioned in the quoted news post point to a story that seem to justify layoff and link them with automation/cost cutting

1. spokeswoman Tami Begasse said there is no correlation between the tester layoffs and the company's growing use of workers abroad. She said the group was restructured because it's automating some testing tasks.

2. In September, the server group said it was cutting 93 positions as part of its move toward automated testing.

3. One factor is the push by executives to cut costs and adjust to the slower growth in the technology industry.

4. The 62 work in the core operating system division, headed by Brian Valentine, a senior vice president. In the past, Valentine has called on managers to consider outsourcing work to India as a way to get more done for less cost.

other thing I would like to know is - will you fire a tester for not having skills for coding?
Having gone through microsoft interview process (at india) - I know that mediocre tester can not make it to Microsoft Job. No coding skills, no aptitude or potential for learning and no good testing skills - Did MS make those 62 hiring mistakes and attempted to correct by firing them at once?

I would encourage you to me write to me to discuss more about this...

Shrini

Seshadri P V said...

Hi Shrini, Dont shoot the messenger. If you disagree with Pradeep, counter his points - dont question his knowledge.

The Avenger !!! said...

Hi shrini,

I strongly feel people get complacent once they land a plumb job. I agree that doesn’t justify being fired but the fact here is it’s all related to bottom line "Money".

If I feel I cannot use a candidate anymore and especially when things need to be done, I would be faced with no option but ask him to go.

I have come across a lot of people in my present organization who

1. Don’t do anything to improve theirs, team mates or employers bottom line.

2. Their lethargic attitude begins to rub on their immediate reportees who start taking things for granted.

3. It gives rise to unnecessary animosity, politics and all sort of rubbish hampering progress at each and every step.

Given a chance I would fire these very ppl who I feel don’t

1. Learn and improve their acumen (business or otherwise)

2. Form the right kind of partnership with colleagues and team mates to improve, cement or find work arounds for processes.

3. Continually strive to work and enable higher return on investment (ROI) that an employer requires in the first place.

I am not justifying Microsoft’s act but I remember I got fired from my first job as they didn’t want a full time business analyst when business was lax.

Continual rise in productivity is the key and for people who don’t show that much promise, our industry is not the right place I believe.

I may be wrong, but I have never felt otherwise esp when i faced the firing line not so long ago. I will wait for your comments on this......

Anonymous said...

Any of you who think the test automation process can replace manual testing should go find other careers. That is one of the most ignorant things I've ever read regarding the SQA industry. It's no wonder software quality is continually going down the toilet. We are being inandated with H1B's who think because they understand some basic VB scripting, they are somehow now great testers. Hardly. I've been a director of Software Quality Assurance for 6 years. Guess what. I won't hire anyone who doesn't understand that software testing is an investigative practice which requires skills far beyond test auotomation. Any monkey can record a script. No wonder Microsoft releases garbage software. If test automation is their philosophy of choice, I feel sorry for them.