Artificial intelligence (AI) is quickly transforming software testing and quality assurance (QA) by powering game-changing capabilities like autonomous testing, intelligent test case generation and real-time risk analysis. As a result, it is creating new opportunities for AI-savvy test engineers. But that doesn’t mean that you can set it and forget it.
AI helps us work smarter by eliminating repetitive tasks. Think of it like a supercharged intern who can rapidly analyze huge datasets, suggest myriad test ideas and point out risks — all at incredible speed and scale. But also, like most interns, AI needs some guidance. With the addition of thoughtful human oversight and control, AI tools can ultimately enhance the work of test engineers, and even alleviate stress by automating mundane work. In the end, however, human test engineers will remain the key decision-makers.
Buckle Up: The Landscape is About to Change
AI enables QA professionals to focus more time and energy on strategic, high-value testing activities by automatically handling rote script maintenance, data management and other repetitive tasks that consume excessive time and effort. It can eliminate the grunt work so test engineers can focus on more rewarding testing aspects of their jobs. AI also reduces over-reliance on specialized technical expertise by shifting the focus back to foundational testing skills like business domain knowledge, advanced risk analysis and cross-team collaboration. Ultimately, a test engineer’s true value is a combination of their experience and their domain knowledge, not just their tech skills. And AI can help bring these to the forefront.
As AI helps developers produce more code faster, it will create more work for quality assurance testers. Using AI to automate their test plans, test engineers will be able to manage greater volumes of throughput without feeling overwhelmed by it. To be sure, this will all be a boon to the software industry as a whole. So, buckle up and prepare for more — not less — work.
Broad adoption of AI will organically transform QA roles into more advisory-focused, strategic positions focused on optimizing end-to-end testing processes versus hands-on test execution. Test engineers will transition from being “tactical doers” to a role akin to a strategic coach who guides the technology for maximal impact.
AI-enabled autonomous testing tools that automatically generate test cases, execute scripts, manage test data and identify risks will become standard components of future QA stacks, allowing test engineers to achieve much higher test coverage rather than simply automating happy path testing. But this can only happen if those in control ask the right questions, establish sound guardrails and apply the unique skills only a human can provide.
The Importance of Human Judgment — Don’t Relinquish Control
The key to the successful integration of AI into your testing program is to remain skeptical. It is unwise to blindly trust in the opaque limitations of an AI tool. It also helps to know how the technology works under the hood. In fact, irresponsible use of AI can be dangerous, especially if we don’t understand its limitations.
Testers need consistent human judgment and involvement. Human skills like customer empathy, communication and creative problem-solving remain critical, and AI will never replicate these distinctly human capabilities. By emphasizing their focus on users, systems and applications, creative testers will thrive in the presence of AI automation.
It is not only software testers who need to embrace change but developers of testing tools, as well. It is important that whoever creates the platforms for testing provides transparency into how their tools work. AI tool developers should avoid “black box” development and provide visibility into their models. When a test engineer understands how an AI tool works under the hood — and how it is limited — they will be in a better position to trust and verify the tool’s output. This open collaboration between tool developers and test engineers can maximize benefits and minimize risks in our industry.
Preparing for an AI-Driven Future
To best prepare for the adoption of AI-powered QA tasks, enterprises must invest in proper change management, provide extensive AI training and promote open communication. For their part, test engineers can benefit from engaging with each other to share their AI experiences — whether positive or negative.
In the short term, the software test industry needs leaders to take a measured approach by piloting AI tools on targeted use cases, versus attempting to overhaul all of testing overnight. Start small with low-risk AI projects, then scale what works.
While AI promises to change the testing status quo forever, human insight will remain the indispensable ingredient for responsible, successful software releases. Creative testers who master AI will drive the greatest innovations. Those who embrace this exciting time in our industry are sure to come out ahead of the pack.