How Many Testers Does A Software Development Team Need

Every SDLC (Software Development Life Cycle) calls for testing because it is through testing that you would be able to identify the potential pitfalls of a particular software. Before you decide on the number of testers that should be added to your team, have a quick look-through of the duties and responsibilities of a tester:

Duties and Responsibilities Of A Tester

  • The primary function of a tester is to head a quality control team that would fix bugs so the product would be bug-free when it is released.
  • Testers are needed during the planning and preparation stages of a software. They are the primary people who would analyze, test and review the design specifications, create test signs and conduct test procedure specifications. Testers are also responsible for automating the tests at particular intervals.
  • Testers are responsible for setting up the test environment as well. If it is the system administrator who does it, then the tester would assist him.

As the test execution progresses, you may need to bring in more testers. This depends on the test environment
If it is the tester who executes the test, he logs the test and notes the main points, gathers performance metrics and use tools for doing this.

Normally, there will be many testers in a project and they are responsible for reviewing each other’s work, so there will no more glitches; what one person missed, the other person would cover.Now that we have established the importance of a tester, we shall also examine the factors that actually determine how many testers are required for each project.

If you are looking for the right ratio between software developers and testers, then the answer is this- it depends. Sometimes you might need one tester for a three-person developer team, sometimes it could be a five-person team, sometimes ten and so on. Sometimes, there will not be even a single tester for the software. It all depends on a number of factors.

  • Experience of the tester
  • The type of project
  • How complicated the software could be
  • The features involved in the project
  • Past experience with similar software
  • The culture you work in
  • Your schedule constraints
  • Issues with bugs

Many IT companies are plagued with elusive problem of deciding how many software testers they need for their project. The hard truth is that there is no “one-size fits all” scheme because earlier mentioned factors should be taken into consideration. It is imperative to test all software even though it brings a bottleneck in your software delivery process. Through proper testing, you can create flawless softwares; and for this you need professional testers because this is something that developers cannot do.
You cannot use the same ratio used by another IT company because their requirements may vary. Your product would be different from your competitors. It would also depend on how your company is developing its products and the rest of your employees, especially their abilities and capabilities in completing a project on time. Hence the product alone cannot determine the ratio; it also depends on the nature of the project and its process.
Nevertheless, keep these pointers in mind when you are hiring testers:

  • Apart from the experience of the testers, you’ve got to consider your capability in hiring so many testers; can you manage all the people that you are hiring, can you pay them all?
  • What is the scope for testing the software?
  • Make sure you assess the testing and see whether only the required amount of work is delegated to the tester
  • Can you modify the testing process?
  • Sometimes automated testing can be done; is it possible for you?
  • What is the type of testing that you need to do? Sometimes you don’t even need to hire testers, but assign the task to small groups of in-house employees

Think of the above mentioned pointers and come to the conclusion whether it is really worth hiring testers. If it is not within your budget to hire according to the ratio of the developer when your project is a bit challenging, you can place priorities on different parts of the product. Your tester would be able to identify the risky areas and the testing would be concentrated on those areas as opposed to each stage of the product. Identify those areas where there is likelihood of failure and adjust the testing accordingly.

The End Result

The exact ratio of developer to tester is still a bone of contention because you can never reach a proper conclusion. There is no rule of thumb that claims the exact ratio; even experts would find it difficult to name a ratio. Sometimes, the ratio may not even be the answer. Think of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan movie where they needed to save the civilians trapped within the disabled ship. The simulation test failed and no one at the Starlet academy was able to test it successfully, even the famous James T Kirk. He failed twice before Kobayashi Maru was successful.
There is no magic number, but if you are desperate for one then you can try 3:1 (developer:tester) ratio and see if it works for you.

Interesting links about the topic:
Right Ratio Between QA Testers and Developers?
What Is The Good Ratio Of Software Developers To Testers?
The Good ratio Of Software Developers To Testers On An Agile Team?

The author: Reema Oamkumar is engaged as a thought leader at, which is a part of the YUHIRO Group. YUHIRO is a German-Indian enterprise which provides programmers to IT companies, agencies and IT departments.

  1. Hello Reema,
    thank you very much, nice article and good analysis,
    but why are you calling a software tester by default ‘he’?
    I have met some fabulous women testers.,

    • Hello Barbara,

      thank you for mentioning this. We will try to mention woman as much as men in our blog posts.

      Kind Regards

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