Good Testers Revisited!

(This is a guest post by Huma*)

Good testers are not easy to find!

Good testers not only know the art of testing, but also offer great versatility and wide range of skills in getting the software testing job done, effectively. Different projects offer different set of challenges, and good testers are those who respond to each challenge and help their project teams build a better software by being creative, smart and through in their approach. Following are some of the strategies used by testers, which make them good for themselves and for their teams.

keep-calm-and-carry-on-testing-80

(designed using http://www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk/ )

Preventive, Not Just Defensive

Do testers “only” find bugs or break software? Probably not, as good testers do not limit their talents just to that, but also contribute towards building a better software. Good testers are not just defensive, they are also preventive in their approach. They constantly look for potential areas of risk, vulnerabilities and user unfriendliness and help their teams identity and avoid such issues during early stages of software development. This helps in saving cost of fixing a bug late in a project.

Explorer, Not Just Verifier

Should testers only focus on verifying functional requirements? For projects with half-known and ever changing requirements, only focusing on the written requirements is to inherit the ambiguity and incompleteness of those requirements. Good testers not only make sure that written functional requirements are fully and correctly implemented, but they are also curious and creative enough to explore and hit the corner cases. Using less common test scenarios, different set of test environments and unusual test dataset are a few possible ways, which can be helpful in early detection of bugs.

Spontaneous, Not Just Pre-Scripted

Is sole creative work of a tester limited to write long and run pre-scripted test plans? No, good testers should be able to write short, focused and easy to execute test plans, offering enough flexibility to respond to constantly changing requirements of a product. Good testers are spontaneous and smart to learn, write and execute tests on-fly and do not always rely on pre-scripted test plans to guide their work. Issues with lengthy and pre-scripted test plans have been highlighted by many leading figures of the software test industry. Such test plans eventually lose value as they become boring due to repeatedness, stale due to changes in the product and take too long to run, thus lacking focus on a particular area for testing and finding bugs. For good testers, tests which require repetition of steps and manual work, automation is probably the best bet!

Automation, To Compliment Manual

Good testers can chose wisely between manual and automated tests, and they know how and when to use both and complement each other for better test coverage. If a product is constantly changing or too complex to automate, good testers prefer doing it manually. If not, they give the repeated and tedious job of running regressions tests to test tools. It helps them save time and resources, which they use to develop robust test tools for efficient and effective regression testing.

Diligent, Not Idle

To be idle is a short road to death, and to be diligent is a way of life! [Buddha]

Good testers do not sit idle and wait for a product to finish, but work diligently with their fellow developers(aka programmers) during all phases of a software development life cycle. They do so by providing constructive feedback during early phases of a product design through reviews. They run testing scenarios which can help them identify bugs, write automated test scripts to be run on nightly builds, or develop smart test tools for regression testing.

Try New, Not Just the Same Old

One test strategy doesn’t fit all types of projects. The most exciting part of a tester’s job is to try a fresh and effective test strategy each time, which fulfills a project’s specific demands. Good testers are open to ideas and willing to try new things which can help them do better at their jobs.

Use Both, Numbers and Instincts

Good testers use both their gut feeling and numbers to make better test strategies. They run meaningful reports to know more about trends for test results, bugs (reported, resolved or outstanding), areas with least or most impact and risks associated, and so on. Good numbers, combined with testers’ instincts help them act promptly and give attention where it is needed.

What do you think makes a good tester?

* Huma is one of the good testers I know and has been a regular contributor to Knowledge Tester. Her previous guest posts were about Data Tempering and Wasted time in testing. She is no strangers to the readers, so I don’t think I need long introductions. Thanks Huma for a great post and keep sending them and hope that readers enjoy it.

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