Ironically, I am yet to see a ‘made’ software tester. They are all born living beings with around 98 degree Fahrenheit body temperature, moving around, doing things like everybody else does… So, to complete this thoughtful statement, testers are definitely born, and then they go on to become either good or bad testers!
So how does one become a good tester to get noticed?
1. Education: This is a basic thing that is expected of every tester. I guess, we are all qualified and hence, we are in an organization. There could be some exceptions like James Bach (Satisfice Inc.) who doesn’t have a professional degree, but however, was able to make an impact through his unorthodox ways of testing.
2. Tricks of the trade: This comes with experience. The more applications you get your hands on, the better you become. You will learn a few tricks along the way too. I remembered an incident from the organization I used to work previously. Everybody in the company were asked to test a particular product before it went to production. While everyone was hammering the product, I decided to test the user manual which would be shipped with the product. Interestingly, I was able to find over 130 defects in the user manual (with just a couple of hours of testing). To my surprise, this was far more than what the rest of the company had discovered. Obviously, I won the prize for finding maximum number of defects. However, what I learnt from this exercise is that it is crucial to focus on the complete product and not just on what you think is important. In this case, the user manual was fundamental for the product to be installed and to be used correctly. However, none had spent time till that event to look into it.
3. Use of appropriate tools: Tools are an integral part of a tester’s kit. At the basic level, you will have to know a few software testing tools to save your test cases, file defects, version controlling, traceability matrix, etc. These tools will bring you at par with the others. However, for you to create an impact, you will need a few more tools that can either help you do things efficiently (e.g., heuristics and oracles), or tools that can enhance your productivity (e.g., Automation tools, Debugging tools, and a few converters and system utilities).
4. Well read: Reading gives you a perspective into things which would otherwise not be available. A good book encompasses a huge amount of experience which the author has researched while writing the book – and this experience can be obtained for a small price! The more you read the more perspectives you will have, and the more you can use them effectively at work.
5. Association: The interesting thing is that the above four points can be accomplished on your own. However, this last and the most important point calls for support from outside. This requires one to get out of their comfort zone to reach out to others for help and information.
a. Know your customers: I often ask this question- “Is what I understand same as what the customer expects?” So, the more you know your customer the better adept you will be in testing the application. You will be able to understand certain nuances on how the application is used, where it is used, and who the primary users are.
b. Know your resources: These could be your friends, colleagues, mentor, community, etc. While bringing us up, our parents always told us to keep the company of the good. Similarly, Tom Davenport, professor of Information Management at the University of Texasonce mentioned, “If only HP knew what it knows, it would be three times as profitable”. Hence, it is important to know where to find the information you need. This is the difference between a good and a bad tester!
I have many more things to write. However, would like to stop here, and hear from you.
Hope these insights were useful. Happy Testing!