Interview with Christian Mercier 

 6 May 2022

Christian Mercier has been working in the financial services sector since 1996. From branch business to CRM, strategy and IT - from savings banks to state banks and corporate banks - he has already gained a wide range of experience. Starting in the classic project business, the focus is now on agile methods. Christian Mercier supports his clients in the high-quality implementation of requirements. Even before the topic of agility became widespread, he was involved with methods for creating transparency and optimising project communication. During implementation, he places great value on usability and system maturity. Setting up tests in an agile manner or testing in an agile environment is therefore a particular concern of his.

What challenges will software testing have to face in the future?

The challenges of the future are manifold.

First and foremost, new technologies and increasingly complex systems come to mind. These things are also often paired with an increasingly far-reaching impact on users - be it through automated lending processes, systems that act completely autonomously, or artificial intelligences that talk to real customers.

Additionally, in the area of testing, there is an ever-increasing level of automation and software support in the development process. So while software is being developed and tested, the environments in which it is developed and tested are changing. This is already not a new development today, but the importance will increase with increasing speed in the form of iterative implementations.

The most important point, in my opinion, is that we make up for the failures of the past years and create a consistent awareness of quality. Any deviations discovered in a test must no longer be perceived as unpleasant or disturbing by any person involved, they must rather be recognised as a positive driver for the product. Of course, this only works if the focus is not exclusively on the initial investment, but on the long-term return of investment. Of course, there must still be quick prototypes, quick and dirty solutions and low-cost offers - but here the quality level must be clearly defined in advance and communicated to the outside world. Because here, too, a deviation remains a deviation and must be consciously accepted in case of doubt and not simply swept off the table for cost reasons. If all those involved, from the client to the implementers to the most important link in the chain, the client, agree on the quality, i.e. the positive relationship between expectation and implementation, there is nothing to be said against testing on the soundtrack. But this decision must be made consciously by all. And it is precisely creating this awareness that I consider to be the greatest challenge.

What ideas or solutions could address these challenges?

In addition to the continuous occupation with new technologies and techniques, in my view a further development and consolidation of the self-image is necessary above all. As with any activity, the result becomes excellent when the profession becomes a vocation. Teams, whether agile or classic, do not need just any person who has the topic of testing on the table - no, they need a person who occupies the topic of testing with full conviction and passion and who carries others along with him.

How can we find such people? The good news is that they already exist! If they are used and promoted in the right way, they can more easily bring their environment with them and thus ensure a positive effect in the long term.

What does future testing look like? How will we test?

In my view, testing will continue to be the classic old "craft" in which the result depends to a large extent on the skills, knowledge and commitment of those involved. Even if the tests are fully automated and integrated into a toolchain, and every software increment thus runs through all tests, the result depends on good planning, solid analysis, efficient design, conscientious implementation, reliable execution, and comprehensible evaluation. In my opinion, ensuring all this must continue to be the task of qualified and dedicated people. Due to the fast-paced and cost-driven environment, this requires not only good technical expertise, but above all a certain enthusiasm to win the other stakeholders over to the quality mission.

The dusty image of a tester who clicks through the same test cases over and over again must continue to change into a tester who understands participants and systems in order to anchor the idea of quality deeply in the procedure and process.

How can testers and test managers prepare for this today?

From my point of view, as a software tester I need to have a deep basic understanding of how the technologies work in general as well as a detailed understanding of the sub-areas and sub-aspects to be tested. This means that I have to deal with the technology of the future today in order to understand it in the future. This includes not only software that is to be tested but also software that accompanies, supports or executes the test. Because we all know that there is no such thing as error-free software. So when I use software for testing, I have to understand the possibilities and limitations of this software more than I do today. Only then can I use it correctly and interpret the results correctly.

In my view, one topic will not change - to get good results, I have to start testing as early as possible and understand it as part of the overall development. The topic of "quality as an attitude" is key to success for everyone involved. Because we can only be successful in the long term if we do things with heart and soul and out of inner conviction.