Last week I published Part 1 of this series about why do I think testers are not treated professionally in some organizations.
My take is simple and I put the bulk of the blame on us The Testers, because many times we bring this upon ourselves by not taking our jobs seriously enough and not behaving professionally in our work.
It was nice to get some encouraging comments from testers I respect, but what I’m after is additional inputs on the subject. Even if you don’t agree with me, I want to hear your feedback in order to learn from it and improve our work!
A look back at the first 5 reasons
I will not go over each of the reasons I already talked about, but it is good to list them here for reference and completeness.
I believe that at least part of the reasons why You are NOT treated as a Professional Tester in your company are:
1. You think testing is not a technical profession, and so you don’t even try to understand the code behind your product!
2. You are not involved in the process until you are hit in the head with a build by development and told to “go and test it”.
3. Your only interaction with a Customers is when your Support Team asks you to reproduce a bug from the field.
4. Risk management is something you practice only in the context of Life Insurance.
5. You don’t have a plan to improve the value of your testing.
Now a look at the next 5 reasons
Why You are NOT a Professional Tester!
6. You think your job is mainly about writing and running
predefined Test Case Scenarios
There is so much more than only running scripted tests:
– Providing feedback on the design of your application.
– Analyzing the Risks of your current development plan and project.
– Providing informal feedback during the development stages.
– Developing an automation framework that will help your developers maintain the stability of the product while they work on it.
– Running tests, but definitely not only those you scripted before hand.
– Analyzing the results of your tests and the rest of the information available to you, to provide insights into the status of your product.
– Providing feedback on the process.
And I could go on & on…
In short, the value of your job goes way beyond executing test-steps and setting them to pass or fail!
7. Automation (and scripting) is an Advanced Science, and a project you will work in the future – in your spare time.
STOP coming up with excuses why not to work on automation!!
This is another side of the technical shortcomings of some testers but from a different perspective.
Automation is not a magic pill or the cure to all the problems faced by testers, this is only a sales-pitch-lie from many tool vendors. But still, there are times when using scripts or tools to do part of your dirty-work will make it more efficient and save you time.
The problem is that, again here, some testers feel they are not technical enough to do this, and so they choose not to use automation or scripting to improve their testing. In a sense it is like striking stones or rubbing sticks to light a fire, and refusing to use a lighter while saying that for you it is easier this way…
8. You do most of your testing while standing high on top of you Ego
A good tester is a humble tester! We need to know how to provide feedback, and even more importantly how to receive feedback from teammates and peers.
Many testers get frustrated when team members (specially programmers) give them unrequested feedback on their testing, or when they are queried on a bug that was not found or a test that was not run. Many times there are good reasons for all these “misses” and we only need to keep calm and share this information, but lot’s of testers take these questions as personal attacks on their professional integrity and reply with loud tones or harsh words.
In the same way as you need to know how to report your bugs and provide negative feedback to your project team, you need to know how to receive constructive criticism from your peers.
No one expects you to be perfect, but they expect you to be professional about your mistakes and to learn from them as well as from the feedback you get from the team.
9. You don’t keep track of your professional skill set and the areas where you need to improve next
One of my best managers in the past used to talk about our personal “Virtual Toolbox” as the set of skills each of us carries with him and uses when needed.
– What tools are in need of improvements or updating?
– Which are the tools that you keep needing, and that you may want to acquire next in order to improve the quality of your work?
Testing is without a doubt a craftsmanship, and without the proper tools (virtual and actual) you will not be able to create the required product.
10. The only idea you have about a career path involves becoming a manager or moving on to another career
Some people get into testing because they think it is a good path into programing. Others do because they don’t know what testing is about and it sounds cool to “play” with applications all day long. After all, how hard can it be, right?
Part of them can end up been good testers (at least I hope that I did!). But most of them will end up frustrated, counting the days until they can stop testing and start doing the work they really wanted to do. While others don’t appreciate the real challenges of testing, and think the only way to move forward is to start managing people.
It is true there are challenges and rewards to managing a testing team, but there are also countless disciplines to conquer that are not related to management and that may give you even more challenges and bigger rewards (and definitely a lot less headaches!)
My point is that, if all the time you are looking to do something else and not focusing on how to test better, there is no way you can do it more professionally. So think if you are in the right place, or if maybe you should simply be looking for something else…?
Want to be professional? Start by looking at testing as a profession!
Looking at these ten points from 20,000 feet I think the line connecting them is the call to change our general approach to testing.
The first step is to start considering testing as OUR Profession.
Once we absorb this first step, the second one is to look at what we are missing in order to become better testers. What areas should we develop? How do we need to approach our work and the relationships with our customers and teammates? And what can we do NOW in order to increase the value of our work?
The third and last step (at least for this short approach) is to plan ahead how to improve, and to realize that as a profession we have much to learn before considering ourselves gurus or experts (if there is such a thing…)
The important thing is to realize that the change needs to come from within, and not from some God-given decree or from the title next to the name in our email’s signatures.