What does a software test engineer do?

What does a software test engineer do?


The software test engineer is an integral part of any software development project. Without software testing, it is not possible to launch a product successfully. 

Through software testing, you can verify that the product is stable, and ready for launch. In this article, we will discuss the importance of software testing, the various types of software testing, and how a software engineer can ensure quality of the product before it’s released. 

What is software testing?

Software testing is the process by which professional testers and engineers go through the software product to make sure that it matches requirements, meets quality mandates, meets stakeholder expectations and so on. There are various steps in software testing, and once each of them are completed, and meets the desired expectations the ‘go-ahead’ signal will be given.

Software testing is thus one of the most important steps in software development because it would help detect the bugs and errors in the software. Early detection of the bugs will solve a number of problems, including maximising the developer’s efforts to produce a great product. The testing would ensure that you are going down the right path with the product. Hence, it is a time-saving, cost effective and customer-satisfaction driven option. 

There are plenty of examples where software bugs have caused monetary loss to the companies. This is because they failed to do the testing, or missed to rectify the errors and leading to heavy loss of money to the brands concerned, and even a bad reputation. 

Some examples:

  • A fighter plane has a software bug that caused it to not detect targets in 2015
  • The Bloomberg terminal in London shut down in April 2015 due to a software error and this affected more than 300000 traders and even postponed a huge government debt sale
  • Nissan cars had to recall more than 1 million cars from the market. There was a software glitch in their airbag sensory detectors. 
  • Starbucks once had to close down 60% of its POS stores due to a software glitch

Types of software testing

There are different types of software testing, but they can be broadly classified into two main categories: Functional testing and Non-functioning testing. These days, there aren’t many places where a software application is not used. 

Software testing has also taken prominence among companies indulging in software development projects. Software glitches can not only result in loss of time and money, it can even lead to death in some cases. So launching a software application without proper testing is really not feasible. 

Functional testing

As the name suggests, Functional testing deals with the functional aspect of the software. The functions of the software must perform as expected, otherwise you will have to check what went wrong where, and rework again. 

It is important to see whether you are getting the desired results. In Functional Testing, you have the following:

  • Unit testing
  • Integration testing
  • Smoke testing
  • Regression testing
  • White box testing
  • Black box testing
  • End-to-end testing 

You can do the various levels of functional testing using the different tools.

Non-functional testing

Through Non-Functional testing you can test the non-functional aspects of the application. This will be all about the performance security, usability, reliability of the app, and is usually done after the Functional testing is passed. 

With both the tests completed, you can ensure the quality of the apps to its entirety.  Here are some basic levels involved with non-functional testing:

  • Performance testing
  • Security testing
  • Load testing
  • Volume testing
  • Stress testing
  • Usability testing
  • Scalability testing
  • Reliability testing

And more…

So while with functional testing, you determine the quality of the software, with non-functional testing, you can make it even more perfect. These testing steps would cover the entire aspect of software testing, making sure all bases are covered. 


This is another software testing step that involves Regression and Maintenance.

Each of the steps mentioned above serves one purpose or the other, you need to do each of the steps to ensure all functions are covered.

The importance of having a software engineer team

This proves that software testing is so important, and you need to have a software engineer team to cover the processes. You must have a mix of specialists in your software testing team to ensure swift and complete software testing. 

The team consists of junior developers, QA analysts, automation engineers (with various capacity levels) and often more than one engineer, depending on the complexity of the project. There will be a manual testing engineer and an automated testing engineer as well. 

The teams generally maintain a document that will contain all the tasks completed and this would be like a reference for each member, and gives helpful information about the tasks completed, schedules, task organisation, deadlines, quality standards and processes. 

The software engineer makes use of three main strategies to do the testing processes – white box, black box and grey box testing (this is a fairly newer term utilising both black box and white box testing strategies). 

The critical skills needed for the job are, of course, programming skills, reading and comprehending the codes quickly, critical thinking, communication skills, patience and detail-oriented. 

The responsibilities of the software testing team

Have a look at the general roles played by the testing team:

The tester

The software tester will be a specialist in his field, and hence have relevant knowledge of the designing concepts, the execution methodologies and so on. They will be in constant communication with the development team to do the following:

  • Creating test cases and documentation
  • Running tests according to specifications and standards 
  • Report the test results after analysing them

The Manual test engineer

While automated tests are helpful in finding the bugs and flaws of the software, it is mandatory to do a manual test to check whether all the instructions from the client are followed to the letter. The QA engineer will analyse how much effort and time is required to perform the testing process. He is also responsible for documenting the test cases, so they can be logically divided into test suits. The test engineer will compile a daily report so all the aspects of the test will be shared with the team lead. 

The Automated test engineer 

The automated tests will cover all the normal aspects of testing, the routine testing and regression. There will be effective test scripts to help identify problem areas. It is the duty of the automated test engineer to write, execute and analyse automated tests, document the automated testing processes so there will be record of the test plans, test cases and procedures. The engineer will work on the testing frameworks to help generate the test cases efficiently. Even though the tests are done automatically, it is important for the QA engineer to always do research on the new tools that might improve the testing process. 


The software tester is thus an integral part of a software development project. The team members work together, and support each other to come up with great applications that meet quality and safety standards. The software engineer also goes by the following names: Quality Assurance Analyst, Quality Assurance Director, Software Quality Engineer, Product Assurance Engineer.

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