Understanding the Influence of Human Factors on Testing Activities in Software Producing Organizations
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The view of software testing has, over the years, evolved into a constructive one. However, while testing has received an increased focus in the software engineering field, the literature has predominantly focused on new technologies and new methods for testing and little on how testing is conducted in real-world projects. Many of the problems encountered in testing are related to both work and organisation, and improving software testing should be seen as a sociotechnical challenge. This thesis aims to shed light on how software testers are organized within the companies and how they can be motivated in their work. We explored the policies and rules conceptualized and implemented in software development projects and searched for the most desirable set of traits and skills. We wanted to see when the perceptions of software testing are formed and how they evolve during the educational and professional years. We hope that the results of this thesis will contribute to the body of knowledge regarding testing research in an industrial setting. This overall purpose will more specifically be pursued through the following three research questions: - RQ1: Which contextual factors are salient in situations that can generate strong motivation for software testers? - RQ2: How is the motivation of software testers encouraged in practice? - RQ3: How does working experience in industry contribute to the perception of testing activities' importance? In this research we have used a mix of quantitative and qualitative data analysis. The quantitative data were used to construct an overview of the internal organization of testing activities and for analysing the results from alumni survey data sets. Qualitative data have been used to understand and explore the many factors we observed during the stages with focus on motivation and characteristics of testing professionals. The main contributions are: C1. Identification of challenges encountered by testers, managers and developers during software testing activities. C2. A classification framework for organizing and managing testing personnel. C3. A description of factors that motivate software testing personnel as well as strategies deployed by the companies for stimulating their testers. New motivational and de-motivational factors were identified within testing context. C4. A set of skills and characteristics considered suitable or desirable when hiring software testers. C5. A multi-faceted perspective of the perception of a testing career among students and graduates as well as factors influencing the students in pursuing a software testing career. This thesis offers insight into how organizations decided and adopted a guideline for testing activities. Furthermore, the research provides a comprehensive description of factors that influence the software testing personnel and a new set of motivation and de-motivation factors were introduced. In addition, a multi-faceted perspective of perception of the testing career among students and graduates emerged. Lastly, the results improve our understanding of the mechanisms influencing the students for pursuing a testing career.