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Spreading-the-Testing-Gospel
Shivani Mody
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
If being a software tester does not sound like a savvy career choice, think again. A neglected category of IT services till 2000, software testing has now emerged as a $13 billion global market with $3 billion being accounted for offshore testing. Recent estimates suggest that nearly $1 billion of it, is captured by the Indian companies. With experts speculating that the market opportunities for offshore software testing companies to hit $8 billion by 2008, India is all set to make a mark.

Despite offering immense potential, software-testing awareness is limited in the country. With a need to popularize testing as a career and a business, a forum called Software Testing Practitioners of India (STeP-IN) was launched in October 2003. This non-profit forum caters to the needs of testers by bringing together software test professionals, practitioners, academicians, and service/product vendors on an international platform. Now members share techniques, frameworks and case studies to enhance software-testing at the events.

The main activities and strategies were decided by the steering committee, which has the likes of Arun Ramu, VP, Head-Independent Validation Solutions Group, Infosys Technologies, as President of STeP-IN forum and Ramesh Gopalaswamy, Consultant and Adjunct Professor, IIITB and Anna University, as the Vice President. They lured other practitioners into the conferences. Starting with 300 participants, today it stands at 1,600, and still counting.

Students generally don’t select software-testing as a career path. Tapping into the student base, each member of the steering committee adopts one college and spreads the knowledge amongst them. Their goal is to create interest in students and bring up the testing fraternity in the colleges itself. They also plan to request the alma maters to introduce testing as a subject in the curriculum.

In India there is no support available to encourage testers or to solve their problems. The Step-IN forum has taken up the task of becoming the largest helping body and creating 20,000 to 25,000 testers in India. In order to achieve this benchmark, they organize talks, theme conferences and colloquiums to share test related concepts and innovations.
The STeP-IN forum conducts quarterly conferences with experts delivering lectures on set themes such as usability testing and performance engineering. They conduct international conferences, wherein industry veterans arrange tutorials, guiding members to learn new practices, while a panel evaluates white papers, technical reports and industrial research works.

The group selects the most informative papers for discussions. The forum sets a positive momentum for its members by giving the ‘Test Leadership Award’, recognizing people who provide excellent leadership examples. Likewise they give recognition to companies that establish best practices in the testing field.

The forum provides three kinds of annual membership—Corporate, Professional and Student, all for a nominal fee. One can register either on the website or directly at the conferences. As an added advantage, students are eligible for a 30 percent discount on all the STeP-IN events.

The steering committee feels the need to popularize testing as a concept. There is tremendous growth in the field, as people are competing within a smaller group than the rest of the IT sphere. One can develop expertise and position himself as ‘a thought leader’ to come up with new ideas and become a part of the happening hub of the software industry—testing.
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