The SDET Role in Quality Assurance

Sandeep Raheja

December 18, 2023

Taazaa is transforming its QA framework by embracing the role of the Software Developer Engineer in Test (SDET)

Incorporating SDETs into our QA processes allows our teams to accelerate testing and achieve comprehensive test coverage. It’s a significant step towards maintaining our commitment to quality and innovation. 

This article explores what’s involved in the SDET role—what SDETs do and the benefits they provide.

What is an SDET?

A software development engineer in test is an individual with a strong background in both coding and testing. They are part of the quality assurance team but are very different from traditional QA specialists. 

Because they’re skilled in programming and testing, they complement more conventional testers. Where traditional QA teams follow written testing plans to test applications manually, SDETs write custom code to automate testing. Other QA specialists write detailed tests within the test automation frameworks SDETs create.

SDETs handle more technical tasks than traditional testers, allowing testers to focus on test design and coverage. They both know basic testing concepts and can write code. The difference is that SDETs tend to have more coding experience, and QA specialists have more experience with traditional testing practices. SDETs are also skilled at designing and writing complex testing applications.

What does an SDET do?

An SDET engineer may perform any of the tasks described below. 

Building Test Automation Solutions 

SDETs are responsible for building strong, scalable, and high-quality test automation solutions. They design and develop the framework, breaking it down into independent, reusable modules for different functionalities (e.g., data management, logging, element identification). 

SDETs use abstraction techniques like page object models to hide the underlying implementation details of the application under test. This simplifies test scripts and makes them less prone to break when the UI changes.

Software development engineers in test design frameworks that support data-driven testing. The test data is stored in separate files or databases for easy test case creation and variation. This design improves test coverage.

Writing Test Scripts

While it’s not solely their responsibility, SDETs are often tasked with writing test scripts—particularly focusing on edge cases. They go beyond basic scenarios and cover negative testing, error handling, and unexpected user behavior to ensure thorough testing.

SDETs break down test scripts into smaller, reusable functions to improve readability, maintainability, and debugging. To reduce script complexity, they leverage page object models for efficient element identification and interaction. It also makes the test scripts more maintainable.

Using data-driven testing techniques, SDETs parameterize test cases with different data sets. The benefit of this approach is that it helps maximize test coverage and reduce script redundancy.

Managing Performance and Scalability 

Part of the role of a software development engineer in test is to select performance-optimized test automation frameworks and tools that minimize the impact on the application under test.

During testing, SDETs monitor resource utilization (CPU, memory, network) to identify potential bottlenecks and optimize resource allocation.

They also perform scalability tests, designing and executing test scenarios that simulate real-world user loads. These tests assess the application’s performance under various loads and conditions.

If the team uses Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery practices, SDETs integrate test automation with CI/CD pipelines. This integration automates testing throughout the development lifecycle and enables early feedback on code changes.

Additional Responsibilities

Along with the above tasks, SDETs also perform many standard testing activities, such as:

  • Maintaining version control
  • Creating documentation
  • Participating in design and architectural discussions
  • Debugging
  • Preparing test reports

What’s the difference between SDETs and QA Engineers? 

If you’re thinking that SDETs sound similar to QA Automation Engineers, you aren’t wrong. The two roles require similar expertise, share many responsibilities, and even use the same tools and languages. 

However, the two roles have distinct differences. 

An SDET is a developer, first and foremost. They are assigned to the QA team, but they know how to write code and develop features. One way to look at it is that the only feature they develop is “testing.” 

QA Engineers are testers. Where an SDET is skilled in development and testing, QA engineers and testers only concern themselves with manual and automated testing. Because of this focus, their programming skills are limited.

What need to SDETs fill?

The increasing complexity of modern software makes it difficult to test manually. With their focus on automated testing, SDETs help alleviate the manual testing burden and allow for more test coverage. The greater the test coverage, the higher the software quality.

For software products, testing processes are highly technical. Every product has critical features that must be functional in every product release. That means those features must be tested in every sprint—in addition to new features and code changes.

That’s a heavy load for a testing team to tackle manually.

For developers working in agile environments, sprints are usually two weeks long. That doesn’t give testers much time to test everything manually. If they can’t write automated test scripts, it becomes a critical quality issue.

This is the need that is met by having software developers in test. SDETs prevent testing from creating roadblocks that can degrade software quality or delay product release. They have the skills needed to lighten the manual testing burden.

Committed to Quality

At Taazaa, we’re rigorous about testing. Our clients depend on us to deliver high-quality products that meet their needs and further their business goals. 

And we don’t want to let them down.

That’s why quality assurance is an everyday practice for us. We continually seek new and better ways to ensure that every software product we create is free from defects. 

In a way, we’re always performing quality assurance on ourselves. We test our assumptions and methodologies, constantly looking for ways to improve.

The SDET role adds a new tool to our workshop. By bringing experienced SDETs on board, we aim to elevate our QA processes with advanced automation techniques. 

The addition of SDETs aligns Taazaa with current industry trends and ensures our testing methodologies remain top-tier within the software development industry.