Is Domain Knowledge Necessary for a Tester to Get a Job? Then What About a Novice Tester?

When you appear for a software testing interview as an experienced professional, even though your CV reflects total years of experience, but still the interviewer will ask ‘What is your total work experience?’ and if the hiring is a project based hiring, you will definitely be asked about your experience in that particular domain.

The Years of Experience does matter since that becomes a decisive factor for the role, salary etc. but why do they focus and give so much importance to the domains? Does it mean there is a direct impact on the output if a domain expert is hired in the team?

To know more, read this article, I hope this will give you a good insight into the importance of domain knowledge. 

importance of domain knowledge

In my article today, I have covered below areas –

  • Why a Domain Expert is given preference than an amateur
  • How do we define Domain in terms of the Software Industry
  • What are the Different Domains a software Industry works for
  • How you can enhance your domain knowledge

Why Domain Knowledge is Preferred

As I stated earlier each industry is different when it comes to their way of business, hence the required skill set also varies not only from the technical perspective but also from the business perspective.

Say, if you are working for a healthcare industry, you should be aware of healthcare terms like provider, inpatient, outpatient, and anything involving medicine will require the user to be aware of ICD’s (International Classification of Diseases).

Read more => How to Test a Health Care Application

The Requirement document uses these terminologies, so it’s important to understand these before a tester can write test cases.

Say, for e.g., in the retail industry, a POS (Point Of Sale) requires a user to swipe a card for credit card payment. The tester should first learn and understand the payment functionality and how credit card transactions can be tested.

Domain knowledge is always a preferred option, but that doesn’t mean a tester with no domain knowledge is not good and will not fit the project. An amateur or an inexpert tester just needs to build their capability.

novice and expert

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The major difference between a novice and an expert is, a novice tester can get the job done but a domain expert can be suggestive in addition to just getting the work done faster.

Further reading => Software Testing Advice for the Novice Testers

A tester who understands the core functionality and knows the business well can provide feedback, suggest for improvements, and be an active participant in a lot of decision-making meetings.

At the time of hiring be it internal or external, this question is asked for the same reason. The interviewer judges accordingly, if a novice is hired, it will be assumed that the tester should be given time to build domain knowledge when compared to domain experts who would already be aware of the basics and can get started with the technical details of the project.

I have seen instances where if a tester has shown interest in a particular domain and gained great expertise, they are hired as BA’s (Business Analyst). So, gaining domain knowledge not only helps a tester in their day to day job but also gives tester an option of changing their profile.

If a tester is associated with the same project for a longer duration and knows about the in and out of the application very well, they are also given a choice to become product experts.

Read more => You can also refer to below article to get more idea on the importance of domain knowledge => How Domain knowledge is Important for testers?


How do we define Domain in terms of the Software Industry

Domain, as defined in the world of software, means a different type of Industry or sector a Software Organization extends its service. Any logo that an organization wins is tagged to a domain; say your company wins a project for Vodafone; the project will be tagged to a telecom domain.

Domain is basically a grouping based on the type of business rather than technology/platform. For e.g.Vodafone may require a tester to have telecom domain knowledge and at the same time have technical knowledge on java, database etc.

Given below are some of the different domains we work for:

Domain knowledge for testers

DomainDescription
Retail,Travel
& Hospitality =>
*********************
Retail is the process of selling goods to the consumers in small quantity. Retail includes sell of all types of products ranging from food & beverage, consumer durable goods, Soft goods, selling of books, hotels.
Travel includes the aviation & railways industry. Hospitality mainly clubs the restaurant industry.

Some of the major areas testers are involved in the retail sector

• Point of Sale (POS) – POS is the integral component for any retail chain. Hence, this forms one of the main areas of retail Testing. A Tester is required to validate the overall functionality of a POS application including front of house operations, back of house operation like reporting etc. Sometimes, it requires to perform device testing and to ensure the configurations are working as expected

• End of Day (EOD) – EOD is a very important terminology in retail industry because it involves a list of activities to be performed by any business before closing their day. Hence validating the EOD functionality is very important.

• Websites – With current demand going up for the online market, website testing forms another big scope for testers. Most of the restaurants now accept online ordering.

• Pricing – Another important Module in the retail industry is the Pricing. As testers, we are required to ensure the items get tagged to the correct pricing model, and when items are sold they are sold at the correct price.

• Invoicing – The concept of purchase orders, invoice creation also holds importance in the field of retail. Testers are required to ensure creation of purchase order (PO) works and correct invoicing done against each PO.

• Payment Validation – Most of the restaurants and retail firms now accept all types of transactions, hence testers need to consider these as one of the most important module in their test plan. Test Validation for Payment should include validation of transactions using any mode like cash or card, authentication in case of card payment.
BFS => *********************
Banking & Financial Services. All the major banks and financial institutions are categorized to fall under the BFS domain.

Banking industry demands the maximum security, hence in most of the organizations, such clients have their own ODC’s with restricted access to other users.

Some of the major areas testers are involved in the banking sector

• Account Functionality – Banks these days allows us to operate several types of account, ranging from savings, checking, loan etc. As testers it becomes important to validate functionality involving different type of account creation, also to ensure the different entry criteria’s are checked before an account can be opened.

• Credit Card Functionality – Credit Card issuance involves several levels of background checks. When validating credit card functionality testers should pay attention to ensure the applicants meet the minimum criteria and the system has a way of verifying those details.

• Loan & Mortgage application – Testers also play an important role in testing the loan and mortgage applications in the Banking sector.

• Banking Websites – The most secured websites, security testing is of high demand when it comes to testing a banking application since you would like to secure data from any hacking etc. hence, apart from functional testing, banking domain provides testers with a scope of security testing.

• Trading Websites – is another area where testers are required to validate the equity trading etc.
Healthcare => *********************
Healthcare industry is a sector which deals with the health of an individual, hospitals, insurance companies, wellness companies all fall under healthcare.

Even Healthcare industry requires secured work place since many times the system deals with real user data.

Healthcare industry may require us to work on insurance projects or require us to test a hospital website It may require us to work on models which would predict the health of an individual. This model mainly works by collecting inputs from user, and using some science it calculates the wellness of the user and also predicts on how long the individual can remain healthy.

Some of the major areas testers are involved in the healthcare Sector-

• Insurance Companies – Direct or indirect insurance forms a very important sector in the healthcare industry. As Testers you may be required to test for companies providing direct insurance, say directly to an individual or for companies who provide indirect insurance like an individual insured through a company. Insurance testing involves validating all types of term policies, age criteria’s, payment model etc.

• Hospitals – Hospitals or the healthcare providers are also migrating to lot of online booking websites where IT industry forms an integral part now. Testers are required to validate the outpatient, inpatient functionality.

• Wellness Groups – Wellness groups are companies who consider your health history and recommend a healthy lifestyle. This sector requires testers having a good analytical skill because this mainly deals with verifying the logic used to generate health conditions. Individual’s health data forms the input for such systems.
Telecom => *********************
Telecommunication is the exchange of information using electric signals. Mobile phones, landlines, VOIP all are part of telecom industry

Major Telecom giants require us to test their networking, the prepaid and post-paid plans they offer. Sometimes the testing is required to be done from different locations to ensure the coverage.

Some of the major areas testers are involved in the Telecom Sector-

• Mobile Plan – Telecom industry now offers a range of plan for individuals or family, testers should incorporate such scenarios to accommodate validation for different types of plans offered by the company, it could be prepaid or post-paid, family or individual pack, validation of promotional packs.

• Billing – Billing forms one of the most important sector of a telecom industry. This is one of the most complex areas also.
eCommerce => *********************
A place for buying and selling which happens through internet. This is fairly a new platform but this will surely change the shape of the industry. The Online business is in high demand these days which is generating the need for ecommerce sites.

Some of the major areas testers are involved in the Ecommerce Sector-

• Website testing – Ecommerce is extending to almost all types of industry; hence testers should be clear on some of the base concepts on how transactions take place to validate an ecommerce website.

• Payment Functionality – Payment forms one of the major components of an ecommerce platform. Testers are required to ensure all modes of payment work and also third party integration should work, say if a company supports payment through PayPal.

Also read => How to Test Banking Applications

How you can enhance your domain knowledge

We just read in the above section on why domain knowledge is given preference, now here are some ways on how you can enhance knowledge on a particular domain:

  • While testing any project, focus more on the business understanding and think like an end user, analyze the importance of each functionality from a business point of view. This will help you gain a deeper knowledge of the domain.
  • If you are new to the domain and unfamiliar with the terminology, you can do a Google search.
  • Each Organization has their own internal training materials. Going through those materials also helps.
  • Apart from training kits, many organizations also provide internal domain certification. Internal certifications don’t hold much value outside the organization but they are good for gaining knowledge. This certification helps if a tester wants to change projects within the same organization. Many customers make it mandatory to have a certain level of domain certification, like if you are working on a healthcare project, clearing HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) certification is a must.

Conclusion

This article will give you a high-level idea of the different domains and why you should take interest to improve your domain knowledge, but the actual scope of testing for each of the domains remains huge.

Details on the type and how to test each of the domains will be covered in separate topics.

Author: Thanks to Priya R., our team member, for writing this useful post. If you want to write such articles for millions of STH readers, let me know here.

Let us know in which domain you are currently working on and which other domain you are interested in learning about.


23 thoughts on “Is Domain Knowledge Necessary for a Tester to Get a Job? Then What About a Novice Tester?”

  1. Excellent article about gaining Domain expertise to get well verse with all the enterprise applications in the present job market.
    Thanks.

  2. Great article. It was very helpful as I have BFS domain knowledge and aspiring to transition to a Software Tester Career. Thank you.

  3. Thanks Shisher,we will keep posting information on testing techniques
    You can also refer to our existing posts on testing techniques. Just search for ‘testing techniques’ using the search option in right top corner.

  4. Thank you for this article on domain knowledge. This is certainly a preferred job requirement. At least, familiarity with terms of the particular industry sector is helpful.

  5. Great Article Ma’am. Currently I’m working as a Web Testing Executive in Travel & Hospitality domain . It helps me a lot… :-)

  6. Hi Priya,

    Thanks for this excellent write-up and for linking to my article on increasing your domain knowledge on projects.

    The way I see it, domain knowledge actually falls into two categories.

    There is (1) Industry Knowledge and (2) Solution Knowledge.

    First, under industry knowledge, in the case of Banking & Financial Services, you’ll have the items you mentioned above, e.g. accounts, credit cards, loans & mortgages, banking and trading websites.

    I would also point out that there is a ton of additional banking industry concepts that one can talk about – payments, settlement, reconciliation, compliance, risk management, FinTech and digital.

    Second, under solution knowledge, you’ll have specific business software applications that need to be mastered as well.

    For example, when I was project managing core banking implementations, my team would be using Temenos T24 (a very popular Swiss-based banking software suite) and I would send key members of my testing team to be trained in the software. And due to HUGE budgets in core banking projects, we’d be lucky enough to go to places like Geneva to learn :)

    In summary, and to link back to the title of your post, I’d say that domain knowledge (both industry and solution knowledge) is not essential for testers, but certainly gives you a HUGE added advantage.

    Imagine, if you’re working with a business user to test a loan origination system and you’ve no idea how a loan is processed, approved and paid out, don’t you think it will waste quite a bit of the user’s time?

    Another example – if you hit a software bug and have no idea how the package application is configured, you’d waste time sending the bug to the software vendor for analysis. But if you understood the software package as a solution, you might even be able to troubleshoot or have some clue about what the software bug is all about in the first place.

    That’s the reason why I always advocate that ALL project teams, not just Testers, but Project Managers, Business Analysts, Designers, Architects – be conversant in the industry that they operate in.

    And if they learn the key software applications as well, that makes for a potent combination in terms of skill set that will make you so much more marketable.

    Signing off now, have fun picking domain knowledge – it’s SO important.

    P.S. Such a great website here in Software Testing Help (STH)!

    Domain knowledge is a huge interest area of mine, particularly in Banking & Financial Services Industry (BFSI) – I look forward to sharing more of my know-how in this area with STH readers!

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