Testing becoming the fastest-growing niche within the IT space

For long the poor cousin of software development, the testing function is forcing its way into the limelight, say software companies. And that trend happens to coincide with testing becoming the fastest-growing niche within the IT space.

Technology company officials say that the biggest difference in recent times is a surge in interest among youngsters to choose testing as a career, as against companies having to push a few staffers into the testing function out of necessity.

"The turn of events leading to an increased interest in testing has been quite dramatic", says Ranga Reddy, CEO of Maveric Systems, an independent software testing major based here. "Even up to the year 2000, testing was almost like an after-thought, and having no specific budgets".

Sumithra Gomatam, senior VP and global head of testing practice at Cognizant, says there has been a significant growth in the testing function over the past five years. "We are very committed to growing this business", says Gomatam, and Cognizant has seen its employees in the testing function grow from 4,000 at the end of 2004 to more than 17,500 now.

Cognizant is also reaching out to engineering college students, providing them awareness about a career in testing by getting experienced hands to interact with the students. Within the company, testing has turned one of the fastest-growing practices.

Krishna Prasad, general manager of UST Global says "Many customers are looking for vendors to provide independent verification and validation (IV&V) services which are separate from the development process. This has led to a surge in demand for QA and testing services and fuelled the growth in testing-focused jobs. As a result, engineers with functional, technical or performance expertise are seeing QA and testing as a viable career path."

Maveric's Ranga Reddy says the software testing industry is growing at 20%, making it the fastest growing niche in the IT space and that the near-term prospects look good because the testing vertical is becoming more mature and an increasing share of testing work is being outsourced by companies in the West.

Reddy says traditionally, 80% of software development work was being outsourced, as against only about 30% of the testing work. "With an increased need to effect cost savings, a larger share of software testing work is also being outsourced", says he.

A recent Nasscom report on the software testing market says the global testing market was worth $30 billion in 2010, and that India's share of it was $3.2 billion. According to the report, export revenues and the number of employees in the software testing industry have doubled over the past four years.

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