Domain Knowledge – Is it important to Testers?

In today’s market testing has become essential entity across any domain like Banking, Financial Services and Insurance (BFSI), Retail, Health Care, Transportation and so on. As the testing industry grows, a tester with basic skill is not sufficient to meet the market needs. Market now demands domain and subject experience. Having said that doesn’t mean they don’t need software testing knowledge. Domain knowledge is used to derive business use cases and software testing knowledge is used to derive ideas to test the limits of the technology.

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Majority of the testers would agree that it is unfair to not hire a tester just because he/she does not have prior domain knowledge. This could be justified by the testers who had to start somewhere at some point where they didn’t have testing experience or testing skills. They learnt on the job and added value to the projects they worked on. But can these testers test an application without knowing how a particular business works? What about the risk involved with hiring a poor domain knowledge tester?

Let’s understand this:

1. Online Banking – Tester has to test online banking flows few of which include login, transfers, bill payment. To login a tester might need basic testing knowledge but to do modules like transfers and bill payment, a tester needs to be a subject matter expert. One should understand the business logic on money flows.

2.  Health Care systems may not consider testers without prior knowledge, as it would risk some- one’s life.

3.  Retail: Retail domain In Store Solutions, Enter- prise management, and Warehouse manage- ment. One needs to understand the basic flow at every level for the service to run successfully. Ex: If I were to test POS, I need to know about POS before I can actually test it.

With this being said, a tester also has to understand the ground reality. It is quite a challenging task to build and maintain a team rich in testing and domain knowledge

How can testers gain domain knowledge without prior experience in the domain?

1. Plan
To increase domain knowledge is to come up with a plan of attack. Knowledge is vast and one cannot gain all in just a day. You need to filter down the amount of knowledge you are trying to absorb into pieces and attack it gradually.

For example: if you may say you want to become a domain expert in banking. But which area of banking, specifically? Retail banking, investment banking or private banking? Or it doesn’t matter to you?

2. Ask Questions

Ws Asking questions is an art in itself and if you want to build up knowl- edge, you need to know WHO to ask, WHAT quest ions to ask and WHEN to ask them. Then you also need to record the answers from others so you build up knowledge base for yourself.

3. Internet one of your best friends to pick up domain knowledge. There are so many websites which showcase the knowledge and yes you have online courses too. So start your search, register, read and gain as much knowledge as you can.

4. Find a Mentormentoring

Finding a mentor who has years of domain knowledge acquired kills two birds with one stone – you get guidance on your career and you ALSO get to strength- en the domain knowledge.

Wrapping Up
Now we know why domain knowledge is important and some tips on how to increase the domain knowl- edge. As with all learning, the most important aspect of increasing domain knowledge is your DESIRE to learn. If you have the desire, no hurdle will be great enough to block you from gaining anything.

Always desire to learn something useful – Sophocles

That’s all I have for now. Stay positive and have fun picking up domain knowledge in your projects.

About the Author

Ajitha Mannem is a senior test engineer with 9 years of experience in software testing and is currently working for a banking institute. You can learn more about Ajitha at www.linkedin.com/in/ajithamannem

2 thoughts on “Domain Knowledge – Is it important to Testers?”

  1. Why are on many testers and testing still on this? Why cannot you think that we are in technology, IT or ICT. You gain domain knowledge if and when you work on some domain but what you really need is technical skills. I would like to think that testers need to use domain knowledge on your own marketing.

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