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I.T. & Telecommunications careers

Testing & Configuration

What is the role of a testing and configuration expert in the software development process?

It’s quite likely that most software developers can do a bit of testing and a bit of configuration. However, on large scale I.T. and telecommunications projects, specialist testing and configuration management professionals are needed. Before the I.T. solution is implemented, these experts are effectively responsible for making sure nagging little software problems are prevented, or ironed out.

If software developers are the writers of the I.T. and telecommunications world, then these guys are almost like the editors and proofreaders. Although configuration management and testing are very different disciplines, they are both similar in their overall purpose – making sure that software products are optimised, refined, consistent, fully functional and fit for purpose.

Without these guys, the millennium bug might have actually happened and plunged the world into chaos. If it wasn’t for these clever people, your favourite social networking website would crash every time you wanted to log on and you’d never be able to digitally admire your latest crush from afar.

These professionals can work on all kinds of software projects, including ones which focus on operating systems, applications, websites and computer games.

What qualifications do I need to become a testing and configuration expert?

To pursue a career in this area, you will need specialist I.T. skills, experience of using the latest testing or configuration systems, a strong understanding of software development principles and excellent verbal and written communication skills.

After all, configuration management and test professionals need to work as part of a larger team to ensure that development protocols are adhered to and appropriate changes are made quickly and efficiently.

How do you test out software?

The software testing process tends to happen once the software developer has finished coding. Testing teams will firstly liaise with their client in order to understand the scope and objective of the specific software development project being undertaken. They’ll then set out a test plan for what specific testing activity has to be done.

They are then responsible for extensively testing every single part of new and existing software products. They detect and track bugs, test for durability and stability, and make sure that all functions perform effectively and appropriately. Essentially, they make sure that the end-user is going to be able to use the product without any problems.

They are also responsible for making sure all defects are recorded, before liaising with the software development team and providing them with detailed test reports, from which necessary changes will be made.

Are there testing and configuration personnel who specialise in a particular field?

Some testing professionals specialise in functional testing (i.e. does this work, or will it enable the user to do this), and others specialise in non-functional testing, which focuses on durability, scalability and security (i.e. will the server crash if this many people log in at once).

However, some testers often do a bit of both. Testing can be done manually, but it might be very time-consuming and inaccurate. Consequently, many testers use automated testing tools, which run a huge range of test scripts for them in a short space of time.

You will most likely begin your testing career as a software tester or a test analyst. Depending on your career choices you might become a test lead, test manager, test designer or test architect, as you progress through your career.

What does a configuration management engineer do?

Careers that specialise in configuration management are all about consistency, protocols and quality assurance in the software development world. These guys make sure that software projects are rigorously controlled and thus delivered on time, on budget and in accordance with the proposed requirements.

Especially complex projects can easily become chaotic without configuration management and therefore these careers are essential for the delivery of I.T. solutions.

Configuration management engineers play an integral role throughout the software development project lifecycle. Before development activity takes place, these guys use their technical skills to define procedures and baselines that development activity and changes should correspond to.

They will then conduct technical audits throughout the development process to ensure that the product complies with the proposed controls. Configuration management professionals are also responsible for writing reports and ensuring that all development activity adheres to predefined processes.

Configuration management is essentially all about defining, refining and maintaining software performance levels.

Did you manage all that? To be honest, if you did, then there might well be a you-shaped job opening in the testing and configuration subsector. Impressive!